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Archaeology & History

Assyrians blamed demon 'Bennu' for epilepsy

By T.K. Randall
January 5, 2020 · Comment icon 27 comments



A sample of cuneiform text (file photo). Image Credit: PD - LACMA
A clay tablet has been found to depict a demon that the ancient Assyrians believed was responsible for seizures.
Situated at the Vorderasiatisches Museum in Berlin, the 2,700-year-old tablet had been originally discovered at the library of a family of exorcists who lived in Assur, which is now in northern Iraq.

Assyriologist Troels Pank Arboll from the University of Copenhagen had recently been analyzing the stone when he discovered a drawing that had been overlooked for years.

On closer inspection, it appeared to be a demon with horns, a tail and a forked tongue.

It turned out that this demonic figure was 'Bennu' - a demon that the Assyrians believed was responsible for the involuntary muscle movements associated with epilepsy.
The text on the tablet contains details of remedies designed to treat the condition.

"I was the first one to notice the drawing, despite the text having been known to researchers for decades, so it is not easily seen today unless one knows it is there due to the damage on the manuscript," Arboll told Live Science.

"This specific drawing is a depiction of the actual demon, instead of other comparable drawings, which generally depict a figurine made during a ritual to remove the illness."



Source: Live Science | Comments (27)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #18 Posted by Captain Risky 3 years ago
Good find, Piney.
Comment icon #19 Posted by Manwon Lender 3 years ago
The article about UR is pretty interesting for me. I actually went there during Desert Storm after the cease fire was called. I had read about it years before and I was looking at a map of where our TOC was located I saw it listed. So I grabbed a driver,a Humvee and took off. It was only about 20 miles from our TOC. The city had been abandoned, there was no one there so we walked all around the site. It was pretty amazing because there was pottery and small clay, bone, along with shell beads just laying on the ground. So we picked up some the beads and some of the pieces of pottery. I later m... [More]
Comment icon #20 Posted by Ell 3 years ago
Do I imagine the image of a bovine looking towards the right in the lower half?
Comment icon #21 Posted by Manwon Lender 3 years ago
Yes it could be but, it's hard to see it clearly. peace
Comment icon #22 Posted by Captain Risky 3 years ago
Only apart from the upright position it has no physical attributes of a human,
Comment icon #23 Posted by Captain Risky 3 years ago
Maybe the lines denote some form of divinity, like a god or something.
Comment icon #24 Posted by Manwon Lender 3 years ago
Man that could be possible, it's really hard to tell either way. But you may be on to something, I am not even certain they know for certain either. Peace Bro.
Comment icon #25 Posted by moonman 3 years ago
Looks like a standing goat to me, nothing more.
Comment icon #26 Posted by AZStarwatcher 3 years ago
Im wondering if Ben-nu means Son of. Son of who? The languages were similar back then.
Comment icon #27 Posted by C L Palmer 3 years ago
My neighbor blames a demon for his headaches every morning--that demon whisky.


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