Haruspicy Liam McInroy

1. Haruspicy is a practice used in Ancient Mesopotania where a person would come to an expert, or haruspex, with a yes or no question and ask for a prediction. The haruspex would then slaughter a sheep, following a traditional process, and ask the gods for help in predicting the answer to the question by modifying the internal organs of the slaughtered sheep. The haruspex then examines the entrails of the slaughtered sheep, individually identifying "positive" and "negative" traits present and then determining the outcome by comparing the number of positive traits against negative ones. To reduce uncertainty, they would often perform this process twice to confirm their answers.

 

2. Haruspicy is primarily a combination of random events and human observations. Firstly, haruspicy was primarily random as the traits within each slaughtered sheep are not constant among a population, so the positive and negative traits would vary between slaughtered sheep. While the haruspex followed a traditional interpretation model, reducing some human bias, it soon began evolve and have greater human influence; there became a tendency to associate specific traits from a certain organ with a certain correct prediction. For example, if a haruspex predicted that a king would die and he did, then a model of the entrails which predicted that outcome were created and stored in records, so any other sheep which had similar organs would form a similar prediction. This then allowed the haruspex a great deal of influence in the prediction, as a large combination of traits associated with an event could be observed in a single sheep, often with conflicting predictions as they were random. This enabled the individual haruspex a large degree of choice in which predictions to use for their final prediction.

 

3. Haruspicy was derived from the fact that Ancient Mesopotanians believed that the future was entired predetermined by the gods, so every detail in nature was associated with a feature of the future. Haruspicy became especially popular and important, as it directly requested assistance from the gods in predicting the future, rather than simply observing other natural events, and the answer given was the final prediction of any other divination method as it came straight from the gods. This placed haruspicy as an essential source of prediction for individuals, groups, and societies alike, as it was used to predict small events such as day to day activities of the individual to the downfalls of dynasties and deaths of kings. Mesopotanians felt that the prediction given to them by a haruspex was certain, due to their belief in the gods' influence and the haruspex dedication to reduce uncertainty by multiple sacrifices, so haruspicy became an essential part of life for the entire society as a way to know the future with certainty.

 

4. Haruspicy very much belonged to a society which believed in determinism, as predictions in haruspicy were believed to have come from the very gods who predetermined fate. While this doesn't quite equate to Laplace's Demon, as Mesopotanians didn't believe that all methods of prediction short of asking the gods for a prediction were sufficient to predict the future, and therefore small individual events may have a degree of free will logically, they did believe that the results of a haruspicy were considered certain, since they were messages received from the gods. This gives haruspicy a unique signal of indictating a an entirely deterministic society where other methods had more uncertainty associated with them.