Demons, Evil, and Illness in the Babylonian Incantation Bowls

Many types of demons, both named and unnamed, appear as threats to human beings in the inscriptions on the Babylonian incantation bowls, usually dated to the later Sasanian and early Islamic periods (centuries CE).This paper examines how the incantations on the bowls depict the varieties of demons, both named and unnamed, who cause an array of evil occurrences, including illness and death, to women, men, and children. Questions the paper will address include: how do the bowls describe the ills, both physical and psychological, that befall people? In which instances do the demons cause particular illnesses (like migraine), and when do they threaten death, especially to children? The goal of the paper is to construct a taxonomy of the dangers demons offered to human beings in late antique Babylonia.

The project will be presented at the annual conference of the European Association for Biblical Studies in Warsaw, Poland, August 11-14, 2019


Affiliated Persons

Photograph of Prof. Dr. Rebecca Lesses

Prof. Dr. Rebecca Lesses

Individual Researcher