Yitzhaq Feder deposited Disgust, Disease and Defilement: The Experiential Basis for Akkadian and Hittite Terms for Pollution in the group Ancient Near East on Humanities Commons 2 years, 7 months ago
This article challenges the common tendency in modern research to treat impurity
as a religious phenomenon divorced from mundane concerns. Employing the
cross-cultural psychological notion of “contagion,” this investigation examines
the usage of terms for pollution and purity in Hittite and Akkadian as they relate
to distinct domains of human experience, specifically uncleanness, infection, and
transgression. Special attention is given to the use of these terms in reference to
infectious disease. This analysis demonstrates the real-world experiential basis for
notions of impurity and also provides a new perspective to shed light on the peculiarities
of each culture (e.g., the absence of an Akkadian term for “pollution”).
The article concludes with a detailed excursus on the etymology of Akkadian
musukku and its relation to Sumerian (m)uzug.