Dr. Céline Debourse

Dr. Celine Debourse

Dr. Céline Debourse studies Babylonian history and cult in the second half of the first millennium BCE, when the region had lost its independence to the Persian, Seleucid, and Parthian empires subsequently. Her dissertation, written at the University of Vienna, discusses a corpus of cuneiform temple ritual texts which provide instructions for the performance of New Year rites. Through philological and historical analyses, she established that these texts are part of the Late Babylonian priestly literature. This branch of cuneiform literature gives expression to specific concerns and topics that relate to the loss of native kingship and the loss of centrality experienced by the priestly community at that time.

Her research at Mandel Scholion further explores aspects of cult in Hellenistic Babylon by focusing on different primary cuneiform sources stemming from the city’s main temple Esagil. The goal of her project is to discover how the changing imperial dynamics may have impacted cultic practices there. Moreover, by engaging in an experimental comparative exploration of another Near Eastern temple institution that is roughly contemporary but has a different typology of sources, the project aims to shed new light on the question of religious transformations in the wider ancient Near East during the Hellenistic period.

Selected publications:

Debourse, Céline. “The ‘Day One Temple’: A New Home for the Gods of Babylon?” WZKM 110, 2020. 145-164.

Debourse, Céline. “Debita Reverentia: Understanding Royal Humiliation in the New Year’s Festival Texts.” Kaskal 16, 2019. 183-200.

Jursa, M. & Debourse, Céline.  “Late Babylonian Priestly Literature from Babylon.” in P. Dubovský & F. Giuntoli (eds.), Stones, Tablets, and Scrolls. Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2020. 253-281.