Erich Lessing

Better Than A Crystal Ball, this clay liver model from Hazor was used during the second millennium B.C.E. to predict the future. Divided into sections, each labeled with an omen inscribed in cuneiform, the model served as a guide for interpreting an actual animal’s liver. When comparing the model with this liver, a particular omen was deemed good or bad after inspecting the shape, color and other features of the parallel sections of the actual liver.

Although some liver models were used to divine political events—the prediction running across the middle of this model, for example, reads, “An enemy will attack my country”—the livers may also have been used to provide medical prognoses.