The Susa Funerary Texts A New Edition and Re-Evaluation and the Question of Psychostasia in Ancient Mesopotamia

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Nathan Wasserman

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Abstract




A group of seven short late Old Babylonian texts, written in Akkadian, found in the early twentieth century in a grave in Susa, form the focus of this paper. The texts, which have attracted much scholarly attention since their publication in 1916 by Jean-Vincent Scheil, have until now not been collated. They are presented here with improved readings, a new translation, and extensive commentary. The mention in two of the texts of an alleged chthonic “weigher” is philologically disproved: psychostasia, the weighing of souls, did not exist in ancient Mesopotamian religion . The suggestion of some scholars that these Old Babylonian Akkadian texts are witnesses to Elamite, or even Iranian, belief in the weighing of souls is methodically refuted . The nature of the seven so-called Susa Funerary Texts (SFT) is discussed, demonstrating their close contacts to two other well-known Mesopotamian genres—personal prayers and reports of oracular or prophetic visions . Finally, the question of their unusual find spot, viz., in a grave, is discussed and the possibility raised that this peculiar location is a result of the texts’ magical function .




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