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How To Do Things With Tears

Ritual Lamenting in Ancient Mesopotamia

In contrast to other traditions, cultic laments in Mesopotamia were not performed in response to a tragic event, such as a death or a disaster, but instead as a preemptive ritual to avert possible catastrophes. Mesopotamian laments provide a unique insight into the relationship between humankind and the gods, and their study sheds light on the nature of collective rituals within a crosscultural context.

Cultic laments were performed in Mesopotamia for nearly 3000 years. This book provides a comprehensive overview of this important ritual practice in the early 2nd millennium BCE, the period during which Sumerian laments were first put in writing. It also includes a new translation and critical edition of Uruamairabi (‘That city, which has been plundered’), one of the most widely performed compositions of its genre.

Author Information

Paul Delnero, John Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA.
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Audience: Scholars, students, institutes of assyriology, ritual studies, comparative religion, anthropology