Going, Returning, Rising. The Movement of the Organs in the Mesopotamian Anatomy

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Although many assyriological studies have been done on internal organs in the Mesopotamian worldview, the pathologies associated with them, and their metaphorical and ideological value, little attention have been paid to the fact that, sometimes, internal organs are associated with verbs of movement. Perhaps, this limited regard can be attributed to the assyriological look at the Mesopotamian body being shaped by the modern biomedicine. According to biomedicine, in fact, the human internal anatomy is composed of a series of organs which stay fixed in their positions. On the contrary, I want to show how the internal organs in Mesopotamian anatomy are thought as capable to move. I will demonstrate, thanks to the contribution of the cultural anthropological perspective, that these movements of internal organs can determine two conditions: emotional and psychological states; and pathological signs. Consequently, some organ movements are considered necessary, in accordance to the functioning of the Mesopotamian anatomical-emotional system, while others produce alterations considered negative. In addition, the first case shows that there is no a clear distinction between “mind” and “body” in Mesopotamian, but that, on the contrary, the psycho-emotional dimension and bodily processes are strongly interrelated and that such expressions with internal organs and verbs of movement referring to emotional states should not be intended only metaphorically, but in the concreteness of bodily processes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)453-476
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2019


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