Harry R. Schwartz

Software engineer, nominal scientist, gentleman of the internet. Member, ←Hotline Webring→.

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Fishy Scholarship

Published 12 Jun 2010. Tags: animals, history.

Fish Scholar

Now, I’m no expert on Babylonian mythology, and some of my information on this is a bit fragmented and sketchy, but apparently there’s a myth in which a lot of Mesopotamian law and culture had been handed down by anthropomorphic fish-people before the Flood, after which the fish presumably became less talkative. In commemoration of this remarkable heritage, Babylonian and Assyrian priests and scholars (on at least some occasions) supposedly wore actual fish costumes. They wore a big fish-head miter and robes with scales and fins. At least, that’s the story I’m putting together from a brief reference in an episode of In Our Time and this JSTOR article.

Now, if anyone has any other reputable information about fish-dressed Babylonian scholars, I’d be thrilled to hear about it. This is the kind of bizarre history I like best. I’ve also never been so disappointed with modern academic regalia.