Karin Johansson’s Gothenburg dissertation The Birds in the Iliad: Identities, Interactions and Functions is available online. On preliminary reading, this appears to be an important work. I wish I had had it when I was preparing my forthcoming JANER paper “Portentous Birds Flying West: On the Mesopotamian Origin of Homeric Bird-Divination.” I hope the editing process before the actual publication will allow me to at least reference her work. Nothing she says appears to directly affect my argument or conclusion but I sure wish it had been out before I completed my paper. With the often long delays between the acceptance and the actual publication of most papers there is more than enough time for the appearance of new work that might lead one to a different conclusion or, more positively, to the strengthening of a conclusion.
Like a few other scholars, Johansson notes parallels with Mesopotamia, Anatolia, Canaan and Israel (23 and n. 27, 32 and ns. 111-112) material in general and mentions Šumma Alu (31, n 106) in particular. However, she does not fully define or develop the significance of these parallels. Now does she clearly posit a Mesopotamia origin for Homeric bird divination. While not completely committal, my impression is that she likely favors an Anatolian origin for Homeric bird divination.
Abstract of The Birds in the Iliad::
As the topic of this study embraces and entwines what is routinely divided into two separate categories, “nature” and “culture”, the birds in the Iliad challenge modern scientific division and in some ways, our thinking. They are simultaneously birds, signs and symbols.
The investigation aims at determining the various species of the birds in the Iliad as far as this is possible with the help of ornithological methods and tries through semiotics and hermeneutics to ascertain the symbolic functions and presence of the birds as transmitters of messages, information, and emotions.
The material consists of thirty-five bird scenes where different kinds of birds and bird names occur, such as span