This illustrated lecture will look at the very practical attitude evidenced by ancient Sumerians, Babylonians and Assyrians towards their dead.
This is noticeable with regard to what they thought happened to people when they did die, and the cosmic system understood to operate in the background, as well as how professional exorcists dealt with ghosts of individuals who were unsettled and who, for one reason or another, came back.
The evidence from cuneiform documents as a whole suggests that there was no debate in the Mesopotamian mind as to whether ghosts really existed; their existence was taken for granted and ghosts were regarded with sympathy.
Consideration of these points within the wider range of ancient studies raises interesting reflections on deep human beliefs and the way in which they are surely unchanging.
Dr Irving Finkel is Assistant Keeper of the Ancient Mesopotamian script, languages and cultures department at the British Museum. He is the curator in charge of cuneiform inscriptions on tablets of clay from ancient Mesopotamia, of which the Middle East Department has the largest collection - some 130,000 pieces - of any modern museum.
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