Barbara Böck. MA in Assyriology, Comparative Semitics, and Near Eastern Archaeology (1994, Freie Universität Berlin); PhD with the study and text critical edition of physiognomic omens (1996, Freie Universität Berlin); venia legendi for Assyriology (2002, Freie University Berlin). On suggestion of Franz Köcher the Habilitation thesis dealt with Sumerian and Akkadian incantations recited in medical context with a special focus on the therapy of embrocation.
Barbara has taught at the Freie University Berlin (1995-1996, 1998-2001), the Universidade Nova Lisboa (2009), the Westfälische-Wilhelms-Universität Münster (2011) and since 2008 at the Universidad Complutense Madrid; to date, she has supervised three doctoral theses. She has worked as Research Associate at the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago for the Chicago Assyrian Dictionary Project (1997), as Wissenschaftliche Mitarbeiterin at the Institut der Didaktik der Geschichte (Westfälische-Wilhelms-Universität Münster, 2001-2003), and postdoctoral researcher “Ramón y Cajal” at the Instituto de Filología of CSIC (2003-2008). In 2008 she became Científica Titular at the Instituto de Lenguas y Culturas del Mediterráneo y Próximo Oriente of CSIC and in 2017 Investigadora Científica. Her PhD thesis was awarded with the Ernst-Reuter-Preis for the best doctoral thesis defended at the Freie Universität Berlin in 1996.
She is author of four books and more than one hundred articles in specialized journals and academic books. She has conducted six competitive Spanish research projects and collaborated in three Spanish and another three foreign research projects (Israeli-German, Swiss-German and US).
Her monographs are indicative for her research interest in the cultural and intellectual history of ancient Mesopotamia and expertise in the fields of divination, magic, religion, medicine and medicinal plants. Her Die babylonisch-assyrische Morphoskopie (Wien 2000) includes the study and text critical edition of the divinatory treatise on physiognomy called in Akkadian Alamdimmû. Her second book Das keilschriftliche Handbuch “Einreibung” (Muššu’u). Eine Serie sumerischer und akkadischer Beschwörungen aus dem 1. Jt.v.Chr. (Madrid 2007) presents the text edition of a hitherto unpublished handbook of magico-medical incantations and the study of the medical context in which these incantations were recited. In The Healing Goddess Gula: Towards an Understanding of Ancient Babylonian Medicine (Leiden-Boston 2014) she discusses how religious concepts were superimposed on medical practice, and introduces the analysis of metaphoric language in medical incantations to understand the ancient ideas about disease and healing. An Ancient Mesopotamian Herbal (London 2023, co-authored with S.A. Ghazanfar and M. Nesbitt) is the result of the innovative, close collaboration between assyriology and botany and puts forward the identification of some of the most important plants used in Assyrian and Babylonian medicine; the monograph presents for the first time numerous translations and interpretations of cuneiform medical recipes.