For Immediate Release

Public Divination Lecture: "Foresight, Forecasting, and the Future in Ancient Mesopotamia"

(March 26, 2013 Cambridge, MA) The kings of ancient Assyria--located in present-day Iraq--once sought to divine the future using the stars and the livers of sacrificial sheep. Much as we are invested in projecting and preparing for the future in our modern realms of business, government, and science, the kings of Nineveh and Nimrud tried to build their empires by anticipating the future in the realms of economics and politics.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology and the Semitic Museum at Harvard University present a free public lecture, "Foresight, Forecasting, and the Future in Ancient Mesopotamia," Thursday, May 9, 2013 at the Yenching Institute (2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge) at 6:00 PM. The speaker is Francesca Rochberg, the Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies, of University of California, Berkeley. A reception will follow at the Peabody Museum (11 Divinity Avenue). 

From cuneiform tablets produced by the diviners of the 7th century BC Assyrian court, this talk offers an intimate look at the Assyrian Empire, and insights into the context, practice, and purpose of Assyro-Babylonian divination and its role in the earliest and most fully documented cultivation of foresight.

This is the final lecture in a year-long series about divination (from the Latin divinare – “to foresee, to be inspired by a god,”) and the many ways that humans attempt to understand the present and divine the future.


About the Peabody Museum
The Peabody Museum is among the oldest archaeological and ethnographic museums in the world with one of the finest collections of human cultural history found anywhere. It is home to superb materials from Africa, ancient Europe, North America, Mesoamerica, Oceania, and South America in particular. In addition to its archaeological and ethnographic holdings, the Museum’s photographic archives, one of the largest of its kind, hold more than 500,000 historical photographs, dating from the mid-nineteenth century to the present and chronicling anthropology, archaeology, and world culture.

Hours and location: 9 A.M. to 5 P.M., seven days a week. The Museum is closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for students and seniors, $8 for children, ages 3–18. Free with Harvard ID or Museum membership. The Museum is free to Massachusetts residents Sundays, 9 A.M. to noon, year round, and Wednesdays from 3 P.M. to 5 P.M. (September to May). Peabody Museum admission includes admission to the Harvard Museum of Natural History. For more information call 617-496-1027 or go online to: The Peabody Museum is located at 11 Divinity Avenue in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Museum is a short walk from the Harvard Square MBTA station.

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Faith Sutter
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Peabody Museum
Tel: 617-495-3397





Above: Cast of the Assyrian ruler Esarhaddo gazing at or saluting the gods shown in symbolic and representative forms. Courtesy Semitic Museum, Harvard University. HIGH RESOLUTION IMAGE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST.

Francesca Rochberg, Catherine and William L. Magistretti Distinguished Professor of Near Eastern Studies, University of California, Berkeley. 

"Foresight, Forecasting, and the Future in Ancient Mesopotamia," part of the free Peabody Museum Divination lecture series, is Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 6:00 pm at the Yenching Institute, 2 Divinity Ave., Cambridge.

A public reception follows at the Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge.

Public information: 617-496-1027

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