Hepatoscopy is the examination or the inspection of the liver of sacrifical animals. The Babylonians were famous for hepatoscopy. A highly trained priest that might also might have been a Chaldaean which was synonymous with a magician, who was called a “bara” or diviner (literally a “seer inspector”), was in charge of the vital function. The liver was considered the seat of the blood and hence the seat of life itself. On the basis of this belief the Mesopotamians, by some incomprehensible process of reasoning, identified the liver of the sacrificial sheeps to the gods, and therefore deemed it a proper vechicle by which to divine the will and intentions of the higher powers.
The bara or priest was specially trained to read or interpret the signs or markings of the livers. The practice of hepatoscopy was often performed in special temples where the priests would purify themselves and dress in special attire when performing the act. Supplies of livers for the purpose of reading omens were kept at the temples. Also, every army regiment had a bara with it and he performed the act before the regiment’s entrance into battle. Private citizens also employed baras to perform hepatoscopy for them to determine the gods’ will in their personal lives. A.G.H.