Troels Pank Arbøll

Troels Pank Arbøll

Assistant Professor

Member of:

    Current research

    As an Assyriologist working with the history of medicine, I primarily publish and study cuneiform texts with medical diagnoses, prescriptions, descriptions of plants, and healing rituals to gain a deeper understanding of ancient medical knowledge and practices. In my monograph Medicine in Ancient Assur from 2021 (available with open access) I provided the first study of the career of a single healer from the 7th century BCE by outlining his training and practice. My second monograph, published by the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences and Letters, contains text editions of early first millennium BCE Akkadian and Sumerian scholarly, political, and administrative cuneiform texts from the Syrian city Hama. The texts are among the only surviving scholarly cuneiform manuscripts from the Levant in this period. Furthermore, I have produced a range of articles examining ancient conceptions of disease, anatomy and physiology, the reality behind medical ingredients, epidemics, zoonotic diseases, the transmission of knowledge, as well as the iconography of demons and animals, and I have published a cuneiform tablet with the first known illustration of a demon of epilepsy. I also participate in interdiscplinary studies, and I have also been first author on a study of ancient DNA found in a clay brick from ancient Mesopotamia, aimed at mapping ancient biodiversity and published in Scientific Reports, as well as a perspective investigating the earliest known sources related to sexual-romantic kissing in relation to disease transmission, published in Science. My research combines traditional and new approaches to the study of ancient Mesopotamian medicine and history in order to increase the temporal depth of humanity’s scientific history while broadening our understanding of early healing practices and knowledge production. 

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