The susa funerary texts: A new edition and re-evaluation and the question of psychostasia in ancient Mesopotamia

Nathan Wasserman*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


A group of seven short late Old Babylonian texts, written in Akkadian, found in the early twentieth century in a grave in Susa, form the focus of this paper The texts, which have attracted much scholarly attention since their publication in 1916 by Jean-Vincent Scheil, have until now not been collated They are presented here with improved readings, a new translation, and extensive commentary The mention in two of the texts of an alleged chthonic "weigher" is philologically disproved: psychostasia, the weighing of souls, did not exist in ancient Mesopotamian religion The suggestion of some scholars that these Old Babylonian Akkadian texts are witnesses to Elamite, or even Iranian, belief in the weighing of souls is methodically refuted The nature of the seven so-called Susa Funerary Texts (SFT) is discussed, demonstrating their close contacts to two other well-known Mesopotamian genres-personal prayers and reports of oracular or prophetic visions Finally, the question of their unusual find spot, viz, in a grave, is discussed and the possibility raised that this peculiar location is a result of the texts' magical function.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)859-891
Number of pages33
JournalJournal of the American Oriental Society
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Author’s note: This research was supported by the Israel Science Foundation (grant No . 116/13) . I am grateful to the staff of the Musée du Louvre, notably to Marielle Pic, Philippe Marquis, and Mahmoud Alassi, for their help while collating the tablets in the museum . I cordially thank Wouter Henkelman, who agreed to read an advanced draft of this paper, made critical comments, and filled in some bibliographical lacunae . I also benefited from the comments of two anonymous readers for JAOS .

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019 American Oriental Society. All rights reserved.


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