Because the diverse systems of Mesopotamian divination all stemmed from a belief in the gods' involvement in the physical, as well as the social worlds, and because of the close relationship of divination to apotropaic ritual magic, the body of knowledge represented by the omen texts has not always been classified as science, particularly by historians of science who prefer to see in this material a form of pre-or proto-science.
6) Those disposed toward relativism extend the term science to divination and magic.
But surely if the discipline of scholarly divination bears no relation to the discipline we have defined and determined by our own social and cultural consensus to be science, why do we seek to classify the native discipline of omens as "science" at all?
22) Most recently, John Britton and Christopher Walker have said that a method of "extrapolation from observed experience ad absurdum"(23) characterizes Mesopotamian divination, citing as an example the series of lunar eclipse omens for days 14, 15, 16, 19, 20, 21, of which only the fourteenth to sixteenth days are possible in a lunar calendar.
It strikes me that to designate some omen protases as "absurd" or "impossible" both begs the question of what it was the diviners were trying to observe, and reduces the criterion of empiricism in Babylonian divination (as in all sciences) to simple sense date presupposed as having a basis in a reality apart from the observer.
event that presaged, stemmed from the presuppositions of divination.
That the system of divination itself determined what the diviner should attend to in the world of phenomena, natural and otherwise, illustrates the by now commonly held notion that observation is "theory-laden.
33) It follows from this notion that if we study what it was that Babylonian diviners considered observable, we will understand something of the "conceptual framework" of the system of divination.
Fortunately, with its unusually meticulous divinations on religious rites the HYZ OBI finally take us into deeper depths and present more complexities on the subject.
16) That divinations made on behalf of the kings also propose prayer during this kind of libation rite (17) leads me to call attention here to the fact that announcements (gao [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]), a second oral mode of spirit communication, were usually performed during the other kind of libation rite, guan [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], which followed the sacrifice.
Divinations made in advance of prayer-making either by the king or in his immediate presence used different codas that envisioned more definitive outcomes:
Evidence from the king's divinations suggests that prayers were written for different occasions, and HYZ 161, to be discussed at length in the second part of this article, provides compelling evidence to support the view that the composition of "this prayer" alluded to in (25) and (26) would have also first been scrutinized through divination.
2) is arguably the most important inscription in the entire HYZ corpus by virtue of the elaborated content that follows a zhu-clause, discussed earlier as being a high-frequency final clause in HYZ divinations on the ancestor cult.
Finally, the fact that characteristically the HYZ OBI diviners pose meticulous divinations on religious activities in lengthy synchronic chains can further be utilized to reassess a long list of abridged and poorly contextualized inscriptions made on behalf of the kings.
There are records in the king's divinations of prayer made by this person as the alternative to prayer by the king himself; see HJ 18361, HJ 27653, HJ 30632-33, HJ 32418, HI 33425, TN 16, and TN 3240.