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Visualizing the invisible with the human body

Physiognomy and ekphrasis in the ancient world

Ed. by Johnson, J. Cale / Stavru, Alessandro

Series:Science, Technology, and Medicine in Ancient Cultures 10

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November 2019
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3. Umṣatu in omen and medical texts: An overview

Salin, Silvia


The aim of the present study is to analyse the different types of texts in which the Assyro-Babylonian word umṣatu is attested. It probably denotes a skin mark and/or lesion, generally occurring on different parts of the body (of men, women, and sometimes also newborn children). This term is present not only in omen texts (physiognomic, teratologic, and terrestrial), but also in medical texts (both diagnostic and therapeutic). By analysing them, the present article will propose a more detailed interpretation of the word, so as to obtain a clearer idea of the type of skin problem indicated by umṣatu.

Citation Information

Silvia Salin (2019). 3. Umṣatu in omen and medical texts: An overview. In J. Cale Johnson, Alessandro Stavru (Eds.), Visualizing the invisible with the human body: Physiognomy and ekphrasis in the ancient world (pp. 61–80). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110642698-004

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110642698

Online ISBN: 9783110642698

© 2019 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston. BY-NC-ND 4.0 This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 License.

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