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Talk by Nicla De Zorzi – Science Talk 2019, University of Vienna

Date March 12, 2019

The first part of the title of my talk is a quote taken from a Babylonian text from the first millennium BCE: “if a flood of beer is seen in the moat of the city, men’s wives will go mad and murder [their] spouses with weapons.” Babylonian scholars loved to compile long lists of such ominous events and the consequences associated with or predicted by them. They have left us thousands of these lists written on clay tablets in the cuneiform script. The lists are the result of their attempts to find order and meaning in a world whose laws are subject to the limitless will of the gods. For a long time modern research has looked down upon these lists as an example of ancient superstition. My ERC project REPAC will prove that fundamental structures of Ancient Mesopotamian thought hide behind these lists and open a window into the mentality of one of Antiquity’s most productive cultures. The key to unlocking this mentality is similarity-based analogical reasoning.


March 12, 2019
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Universität Wien