One of the more surprising aspects of the early mantic and prophetic traditions documented in the letters from Old Babylonian Mari is the use of pieces of hair and the fringes of garments as a means of authentication. This paper argues that the choice of 'hair' (šārtum) and 'fringe' (sissiktum) as authentication devices is motivated by a particular metaphysics of communication with the divine, namely the idea that winds or breezes carry messages from the netherworld to the ordinary world of everyday life. The two terms in question (šārtum and sissiktum) pun on terms for 'wind' (šārum) and 'little breeze' (sissikum) in order to recall the metaphysical underpinnings of the corresponding mantic or prophetic inspiration, but add the feminine ending *-t- order to form substantives that refer to objects that are tangible and concrete.
|Title of host publication||Akkade is King|
|Subtitle of host publication||A Collection of Papers by Friends and Colleagues Presented to Aage Westenholz on the Occasion of his 70th Birthday 15th of May 2009|
|Editors||Gojko Barjamovic, Jacob Dahl, Ulla Koch, Walter Sommerfeld, Joan Goodnick Westenholz|
|Place of Publication||Leiden|
|Publisher||Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten|
|Number of pages||11|
|Publication status||Published - 2011|