Analogy, Meaning and Creativity in Mesopotamian Thought and Practice

Im Rahmen des Colloquiums, das gemeinsam von der Altorientalistik und der Vorderasiatischen Archäologie veranstaltet wird, finden in regelmäßigen Abständen Vorträge zu neuen Forschungen am Institut sowie von auswärtigen Gelehrten statt.

Am Donnerstag, dem 14.10.2021, um 18 Uhr c.t.

Shiyanthi Thavapalan
Institut für die Kulturen des Alten Orients (IANES) – Abteilung für Altorientalische Philologie
Eberhard Karls Universität Tübingen

Analogy, Meaning and Creativity in Mesopotamian Thought and Practice

In recent years, Assyriologist have come to recognize just how fundamental analogical thinking, which relies on comparing two objects or systems of objects to highlight their similarity, was to ancient scientific, philosophical and legal reasoning (e.g. Bottéro 1997; Glassner 2000; van der Mieroop 2015; Crisostomo 2019). However, these studies have all reflected on this mode of thought as primarily a scholarly enterprise—bound to the nature of the cuneiform script and in service of producing textual knowledge, such as translation, commentary or divination. Significantly less attention has been paid to analogical thinking as a behavioral and cognitive process that has implication for how people interact with their environment and with things. In this talk, I will explore how people in ancient Mesopotamia produced knowledge through analogical reasoning by means of bodily, sensorial and technical interaction with tangible materials and objects. In particular, I will consider what notions like equivalence and resemblance meant in the craft world and show how analogical thinking fostered technical, technological and artistic creativity.


  • Bottéro, Jean. 1997. Mésopotamie. L’écriture, la raison et les dieux. Gallimard Education.
  • Glassner, Jean-Jacques. 2000. Ecrire à Sumer: L’invention du cunéiforme. Le Seuil.
  • van de Mieroop, Marc. 2015. Philosophy Before the Greeks: The Pursuit of Truth in Ancient Babylonia. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
  • Crisostomo, C. Jay. 2019. Translation as Scholarship. Language, Writing, and Bilingual Education in Ancient Babylonia. De Gruyter.

Der Vortrag findet im H2 im Hofgebäude, Rosenstraße 9 statt.

Anmeldung für einen anschließend gemeinsamen Restaurantbesuch unter

                  Altorientalistik                                                                                                                    Vorderasiatische Archäologie

K. Kleber                                                                                                                                       F.J. Kreppner