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Extispicy (from Latin extispicium) is the practice of using anomalies in animal entrails to predict or divine future events.[1] Organs inspected can include the liver, intestines, lungs, or other major organs. The animal used for extispicy must often be ritually pure and slaughtered in a special ceremony.

The practice was first common in ancient Mesopotamian, Hittite and Canaanite temples. Later, soothsayers from Ancient Roman times used the entrails of a bull to determine the advisability of a particular endeavor and Etruscans used patterns seen in the livers of sheep to assess their future. There exists substantial evidence to indicate that this was the main form of divination within classical cultures.[1]

Organ models and extispicy manuals in cuneiform script are widely found in archaeological excavations in the regions, showing the prevalence and significance of extispicy. Commonly, (in antiquity) the majority of the divination was wrought from viewing the intestines and the liver.[1]

Legitimate value

Although extispicy would commonly be viewed with skepticism by the modern mind, some 20th century scholars suggested that this technique was also a valuable and legitimate form of, essentially, autopsy, which might indicate internal disease tied to poor environmental factors,[1] information that would be important to nomadic peoples.

References

  1. ^ a b c d Matthews, John, ed (1994) (print). The World Atlas of Divination. Headline.  
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