December 19, 2020

Oneiromancy: Dream Predictions in Ancient Mesopotamia:

By Nilakhi Banerjee

Oneiromancy is a form of divination in which dreams are interpreted in order to predict the future. This form of divination was practiced in many parts of the world, including the ancient civilizations that were based in the region of Mesopotamia, and it still continues to this day. The interpretation of dreams in ancient Mesopotamia can be found in its literature, such as the famous Epic of Gilgamesh and the Atrahasis.

Additionally, oneiromancy seems to have been practiced in real life as well, as evidenced by a compendium of texts known as the Iškar Zaqīqu (translated as ‘core text of the god Zaqīqu’), or more commonly known as the Assyrian Dream Book .

Atrahasis Receives a Nighttime Omen

In the literature of ancient Mesopotamia, dreams are depicted as serving a number of functions. The most common of these may be the usage of dreams as a means of foretelling an impending doom. In the Atrahasis, the Mesopotamian version of the flood account, the title character. Atrahasis (meaning ‘exceedingly wise’) is warned about the destructive flood in his dream.

In this story, it seems that Atrahasis’ dreams were sent to him from the gods. So one part of the text, Atrahasis is shown offering a gift to. Ea, so that he might be able to receive a dream from the deity:

Enkidu’s Dream

Dreams as a warning of impending doom can be seen in another piece of ancient Mesopotamian literature, the. Epic of Gilgamesh . In this epic, Enkidu ( Gilgamesh’sfriend) has a dream in which the gods decide that he should die as punishment for his involvement in the slaying of the Bull of Heaven and Huwawa. Enkidu also dreams that he was seized, and brought down into the Underworld.

Oneiromancy for Dumuzid’s Dream

Another instance of dreams bearing ominous messages in ancient Mesopotamia can be found in a text known as Dumuzid’s Dream . In this dream, Dumuzid, a legendary king who lived before theFlood, sees his own demise. Unlike Enkidu, Dumuzid’s dream is filled with more metaphors, and the king had to call his sister, Ĝeštin-ana, to help him interpret it.

The Importance of Dream Interpreters in Ancient Mesopotamia

Beyond the sphere of literature, one can say that the ancientMesopotamianstook their dreams seriously. This can be seen in the existence of professional dream interpreters. One of the most well-known collections of dream interpretations from ancient Mesopotamia is the so-called Assyrian Dream Book.

This was a group of clay tablets discovered in the libraryoftheAssyriankingAshurbanipal, in Nineveh. The inscriptions are said to be a record of how dreams may be interpreted. For example, the interpretation for a dream in which a person flees repeatedly is that he/she will lose all that he/she owns.