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This webpage reproduces an article in
Classical Philology
Vol. 32, No. 1 (Jan. 1937), pp1‑14.

The text is in the public domain.

This page has been carefully proofread
and I believe it to be free of errors.
If you find a mistake though, please let me know!

p1 Cuneiform Texts and Hellenistic Chronology
A. T. Olmstead

Babylonian sources have yet to make their most important contributions to our knowledge of the Hellenistic period. Now and then they add to the narrative history. When compared with the more numerous documents from the Chaldaean and Achaemenid periods, Seleucid documents show important changes in economic and social conditions;1 important changes may also be seen in a native religion which at first sight appears static. Equally significant changes appear in neighbor religions influenced at this time by Babylonia.2 One of the most wished-for of the unwritten chapters in the history of science is that which marks the last bloom of Babylonian astronomy about the beginning of the second century before our era.3 Only the value of Babylonian tablets for the tangled Hellenistic chronology has been adequately recognized, and lists presenting their data have been repeatedly published.4

Not only must these lists be brought up to date; what is far more p2important, they must be subjected to rigorous criticism and the conclusions deduced therefrom must be examined afresh. Impressed by the emphatic and repeated statements that certain conclusions are based on scientific calculations from astronomical tablets, perhaps also impressed by the mystery of the cuneiform writing, historians have often failed to apply the most elementary principle of historical criticism — the vital distinction between contemporary and later documents. Since they do not read cuneiform or study astronomy, their conclusions will, as a rule, be accorded the same charitable silence it is hoped will be granted the unwitting sins of the present writer; unfortunately, it is impossible to avoid criticism of the great master of Babylonian astronomy. Those who themselves have followed from afar the sure progress of the late Pater F. X. Kugler through the mazes of Babylonian astronomy must always regret that he abandoned his promised third volume of the Sternkunde, now lost to us forever, to tread the more alluring, but for him less safe, bypath of chronology.

We cannot too strongly insist that for safe chronology we must depend only on contemporary records. One native history has been preserved, the so‑called "Diadochi Chronicle," clearly written within the generation and fitting well what is known from Greek sources.5 Of formal royal inscriptions we have a single example from Antiochus I.6 Of the fairly numerous administrative and business documents from the Seleucid and Parthian periods but few have been published;7 their date formulas must form the backbone of our investigation. In addition, p3we have various citations of date formulas from unpublished tablets, which are equally valuable where we are sure that they are contemporary! Unfortunately, of the most used lists — those of Strassmaier8 — the earlier appears without exception to be taken from unreliable sources and the later is not free from suspicion.

Despite repeated and emphatic claims made for the higher accuracy of the astronomical dates, the exact reverse is generally true. Now and then we do find a contemporary yearly observation of astronomical phenomena intermixed with notes on prices or contemporary events, which in the so‑called "Antiochus Chronicle" almost reaches the dignity of formal history.9 True date formulas on astronomical tablets are equally trustworthy but somewhat rare during the Seleucid period; they are more numerous under the Parthians, but rarely tell us more than that the king was Arshaka (Arsaces), and the majority have been published only in part.

Sharply to be differentiated from the facts secured from contemporary documents are the statements given by later astronomers in their calculated tables. The great historian of antiquity, Eduard Meyer, warned against their use,10 and his warning should have been better heeded. Actual test has shown that, where they had opportunity of error, they have made full use of that opportunity. The majority come from the Parthian period, long after the events they report; the smaller number, shown by calculation to come from the Seleucid period, have the most serious errors!

Of all astronomical sources employed by recent students two are unusually dangerous. The so‑called "Saros Canon" is certainly not earlier than 248 B.C. — more probably it comes from the Parthian period;11 the other is an even cruder eighteen-year cycle which runs to 99 B.C.;12 neither represents the high astronomical achievements of the period. These are found in the ephemerides, the tables for calculations of new moons and eclipses, above all in the planet tables which mark the climax of Babylonian science; as a rule, the astronomers p4confine themselves to noting on the margin the Seleucid date. When they attempt to indicate the ruler, their results are as unsatisfactory as those of their famous modern successor.a

We have no published cuneiform records from Alexander the Great;b those formerly so attributed come from the reign of his son of the same name.13 For the reigns of Philip Arrhidaeus and Alexander II, we have the already mentioned Diadochi Chronicle. The last date of Philip is year 8, Abu 20 (August 24, 317 B.C.).14 Contemporary usage then employed the first year of the boy Alexander.15 After Antigonus had driven out Seleucus, documents were dated from his first to his sixth year, though only as rab uqu or general.16

When Seleucus recovered Babylon in 312, he gave order that the people should no longer date by the sixth year of Antigonus but by that of the young Alexander,17 the first document is dated year 6, Simannu 4 (June 14, 312 B.C.).18 Next year was announced as "Year 7 of Alexander, son of Alexander, and Seleucus,"19 and this is confirmed by an astronomical text of year 90 (222 B.C.), "Year I of Seleucus which corresponds to year VII" — the more trustworthy as our astronomer quite evidently did not know what it meant.20 The last date of "Aliksandar, king of lands," is year 9, Airu 8 (May 17, 309 B.C.);21 the first date of "Silluk the king" is year 8, Nisannu 3 (April 16, 304 B.C.).22 Dating is henceforth by the Seleucid era, which in Babylonia began Nisannu 1 (April 3, 311 B.C.).

p5 Years since, Kugler announced that new evidence, firmly fixed by astronomy, proved that Antigonus recaptured Babylonia in 302 while Seleucus was fighting in India, and this enforced a change of the decisive battle of Ipsus from the supposedly fixed date of 301 to 300.23 At long last, the cuneiform document itself lies before us.24 It contains calculated, not observed, eclipses and ephemerides of the planets; by calculation Kugler dates it to year 90 (222 B.C.), and so eighty years after the battle. It begins with computation for a lunar eclipse on Nisannu 13, no year given, continues with other eclipses which Kugler calculates for year 72 (240 B.C.), and only in the tenth line has "year 10 Si king," after which we have other computations for planet ephemerides. Two lines later we find the crucial reference, 14(?)(kam)(m)An-ti-gu-nu-us. First comes a numeral of uncertain reading; since the sign for "year" is missing, the possibility that it is a day of the month must be left open. The title "king" is conspicuously missing after "Antigonus." Immediately there follows the month Duzu (July), night of the eighteenth, when the calculated phenomena took place. This is absolutely the only basis for the far-reaching changes of Kugler! When, in addition, we find Kugler himself pointing out that our astronomer calculated an eclipse which never took place, we argue that, if he did not know his own proper business, we can scarcely draw assured historical conclusions from this badly mutilated passage. Finally, our confidence is not increased when we find another late scribe beginning the rule of Antigonus as early as 317.25

Kugler also finds evidence for the dating of Ipsus to 300 B.C. in a statement of Malalas26 that the foundation of Seleucia by Pieria took place on April 23 and of Antioch on May 22, immediately after the battle of Ipsus. Undoubtedly Malalas has preserved good material, but those who have laboured repeatedly to extract the wheat from the chaff will not press too hard his details. Those who have duplicated the march from Ipsus in the days before the automobile will find a greater difficulty in the topography. We may disregard the difficulties p6of collecting and marching armies over the plateau during the late winter, though in the wars of the Diadochi, to, armies regularly went into winter quarters. If we place the battle of Ipsus as early as April 1, if we allow no interval for recuperation after a hard-fought battle, we have but twenty days to march over a wind-swept plateau and two sets of passes, one of which at least was still filled with drifted snow. These twenty days would cover a distance estimated in Murray's Guide as a total of about one hundred and sixty horseback-hours. The royal progress with soldiers wearied from a hard battle and with nothing more important ahead than city foundations would, according to Kugler's hypothesis, necessitate a march of eight calculated hours, say twenty-five miles, per day. There is, therefore, no reason to refuse 301 B.C. as the date of Ipsus.

Henceforth, one of our chief problems is the more exact dating of the changes in rulers, including the association of sons. Here especially it is necessary to differentiate between contemporary date formulas and marginal notations in calculated astronomical tablets of a much later time. The last certain date of Seleucus alone is year 16, Arahsamna (16 November 24, 296 B.C.);27 the first of "Siluku and Attaikusu, kings," year 20, Kislimu 20 (December 14, 292 B.C.);28 the last, year 31, Kislimu 10 (December 2, 281 B.C.).29

Antiochus I associated his son Seleucus at his accession, 280 B.C.,30 the last date is year 43, Addaru 20 (March 27, 268 B.C.).31 Antiochus had associated another son, Antiochus, by Second Addaru (March 25 - April 23, 264 B.C.).32 Business documents prove the same association p7of father and son for year 48, Nisannu 6, (April 28, 264 B.C.), and year 49, Kislimu 21 (December 25, 263 B.C.). The natural assumption is that the two Antiochi were associated during these years.33

Against this assumption Kugler quotes two unpublished astronomical tablets.34 One whose date is lost he calculates to be from year 49; it reads "Anti'uku and Siluku, kings." The other is restored [4]9 and reads "An and Si, kings." Kugler, therefore, argues that Seleucus was dropped from association between years 43‑46 (from his own data the latter should be 48), that Seleucus was restored a few months in 49, but that by the end of the year Antiochus was back. Again we find that the tablets were computed in years 95 and 96, 217/6 and 216‑5 B.C., forty-six and forty-seven years later; in the following year, 50, we have correctly "Antiochus and Antiochus," though here is another ground of suspicion. The title of "great king" is given to Antiochus, witnessed elsewhere only for year 47 in an already cited astronomical tablet, also written under Antiochus III. Current opinion assumes that Antiochus III borrowed his title of the "Great" from the Babylonian šarru rabu, "great king"; the title never is found in contemporary date formulas and the references just cited for Antiochus I, but dating from Antiochus III, give the only evidence.

The last sure date of Antiochus I is year 50, Addaru 18 (March 8, 261 B.C.);35 the first of Antiochus II alone, year 51, Shabatu 15 (February 22, 260 B.C.).36 The title "king of lands," though common down to Achaemenid times and repeated by Philip and Alexander II, is suspect when cited for the year 65, though "Antiochus, king of lands," does appear once, probably of Antiochus III.37 After so many unreliable astronomical texts it is a pleasure to cite one which is reliable and p8contemporary, with its reference to the death of the lady [As]taratniki, the queen mother Stratonice, computed to year 58, 254/53, in Saparda or Sardis; like previous contemporary astronomical tables, it noted current events and prices, a welcome addition to our scanty data from the Seleucid period — had Kugler thought it worth while to cite them.38

The last day of Antiochus II is year 66, Nisannu 12 (April 15, 246 B.C.);39 the first of Seleucus II, year 67, Simannu 22 (July 12, 245 B.C.).40 The most important document of the reign is the lost tablet, formerly in the Ward Collection, of year 75, Addaru 8 (February 21, 236 B.C.), which mentions Seleucus, Antiochus (Hierax), and the queen mother Laodice.41 On the basis of the cuneiform material it is impossible to distinguish between the reigns of Seleucus II and Seleucus III, whose last date is year 89, Simannu 24 (July 11, 223 B.C.).42

Although the future Antiochus III was satrap of Babylon under his elder brother, Seleucus III, he does not make a certain appearance until year 90, Shabatu 21 (February 17, 221 B.C.).43 New light for Molon's revolt is cast by the business documents, and especially by the extracts from the liver omens copied with especial relation to the revolt. Uruk in South Babylonia was loyal to Antiochus, for we have dates year 91, Airu 4 (April 30), and Duzu 7 (July 1, 221 B.C.).44

At this point comes an example of Kugler's method, so instructive and so urgent a warning to those who have hitherto trusted his statements that it demands fuller presentation. After noting correctly that the war against the Parthians in 209 B.C. necessitated the association of his twelve-year‑old son, Antiochus, Kugler continues:

Merkwürdigerweise werden aber im Schlussdatum der Inschrift II, aus dem folgenden Jahre 104 SA (= 208/7 v. Chr.) [neben dem König] aplāni-šarri, p9"Söhne des Königs" erwähnt, von denen der zuletzt genannte An-ti-'-uk-su heisst. Ist dieser Antiochos der vorgenannte Kronprinz? Schwerlich! Denn es schickte sich nicht, dass man den ältesten Sohn dem jüngeren Seleukos (der dann als erster in Frage käme) nachgesetzt hätte, zumal diesem erst viel später die Ehre der Mitregentschaft zuteil ward. Deshalb erscheint es unabweisbar, dass es sich um den jüngeren gleichnamigen Bruder, den späteren Antiochos IV Epiphanes handelt, der 10 Jahre später (198 v. Chr.) mit seinem ältesten Bruder Antiochos auch an dem Kampf gegen das ägyptische Heer am Panion teilnahm . . . . . Ob diese Mitregentschaft im Grunde nichts war als eine vorübergehende Ehrung oder ob das Gebiet, dem das Dokument (c) = SH. 504 entstammt, dem königlichen Knaben in besonderer Weise unterstellt war, wärend der ältere Antiochos als mitregent für das ganze Reich galt (siehe sogleich), lässt sich nicht entscheiden. Aber letzteres dünkt mir am wahrscheinlichsten.45

After this amazing information about Antiochus Epiphanes, doubtless to be utilised in future commentaries on the Book of Daniel, we turn to the transliterated text on the previous page and read: šattu 104(kam). . . . (m)An-ti-'-]uk-su aplani(pl) šarri(!), "Year 104 [. . . . Anti]ochus, sons (of?) the king." This is a true colophon of a contemporary astronomical tablet, but what does it mean? Had we not read Kugler's elaborate hypothesis, we should have corrected it without discussion as the simplest of scribal errors. Since the colophon is on the "Seitenrand," we should have first supposed that the plural sign after šarru (written ideographically and so by itself either singular or plural, nominative, genitive, or accusative according to the following sign or from context) had been worn off. As for the proposed aplani(pl) — better read as mare(pl) — it would be sufficient to place these two signs by the side of the normal maru-šu, "his son," to discover that only the addition of two tiny wedges is needed to turn the šu into the plural sign. As the usual Seleucid script of the astronomical tablets is minute and cramped, we should conjecture the error was made by the modern copyist; for with full recognition of the difficulty of such copying and of the extraordinary skill of Strassmaier in deciphering these tablets, Kugler himself repeatedly corrects Strassmaier's copies. We therefore restore the colophon in accordance with the usual formulas, šattu 104(kam) [(m)An-ti-'-uk-su u (m)An-ti-']-uk-su maru-šu šarrani [(pl)], "Year 104, [Antiochus and Anti]ochus, his p10son, king[s.]" Antiochus Epiphanes disappears and we have a certain date, 208/7, for the association of the younger Antiochus.

This Antiochus last appears year 119, Tabitu 21 (January 28, 192 B.C.).46 From year 120, Tashritu 2 (October 2, 192 B.C.), to year 122, Tabitu 9 (January 13, 189 B.C.), Antiochus III had no associate, but by year 123, Tashritu 14 (October 11, 189 B.C.), his second son, Seleucus, was his associate.47 The last date of Antiochus and Seleucus is year 124, Kislimu 4 (December 18, 188 B.C.).48

The first date of Seleucus IV is year 125, Duzu 11 (July 20, 187 B.C.).49 A double date, "year 68 which is 132, Arshakan, which . . . .," obviously equates Seleucid and Parthian eras but certainly does not prove a temporary Parthian conquest of Babylonia in the year 180/179 B.C.; if not an error for 168 Parthian era, 232 Seleucid era, 80/79 B.C., it is backdating by the scribe, exactly as we date years "Before Christ."50 The last certain dating of Seleucus IV is year 133, month lost, day 16, 179/78 B.C.51

It has recently been suggested that Antiochus Epiphanes reigned for a time as regent for the child Antiochus, son of Seleucus IV; whatever may be said of the dubious literary and numismatic evidence, it is incorrect to claim in further support that "cuneiform documents from the first year of Antiochus to the year 169 have in their dating 'Antiochus and Antiochus kings.' "52 This is definitely disproved by an unpublished Oriental Institute tablet, A. 2518, year 137, Addaru 10 (February 27, 174 B.C.), where only Antiochus is king.53 Two Antiochi do appear in year 138, Airu 22 (June 7, 174 B.C.), but give no support p11to the hypothesis;54 for the very next year, 139, Abu 12 (August 14, 174 B.C.), we are specifically told it is "Antiochus and Antiochus, his son, kings."55 Oriental Institute A. 3679, year 140, Tashritu 30 (broken but fairly certain) (November 6, 171 B.C.) has the two rulers; so probably from the space also A. 3688 from the next year.56 By 144, Duzu 12 (July 20, 168 B.C.), however, Antiochus is alone, and thenceforth until 150 we have sufficient tablets to show that he continued alone.57 That contemporary Babylonian tablets should consistently fail to mention the future Antiochus V from 169 to 162 B.C. is passing strange but cannot be explained from Babylonian texts, astronomical or otherwise. Clay assumed that this single Antiochus indicated the beginning of the reign of Antiochus V in 169 B.C., and this supposition has been followed by Krückmann; but Kugler rightly objects that during the first years of this period Antiochus Epiphanes was very much alive and on the throne;58 in fact, just at this time he was persecuting the Jews. However, Kugler quotes a table of Mars from years 136 to 146; of the preserved dates only in 144 is there added of that date by the Seleucid era a royal name, "An, king," which he explains as proving that in this year 168/7 the son was not associated. In another Mars tablet, prepared in the year 194, 118/7 B.C., one line has "year 115 (197/6 B.C.) An and An, his son, king" — of course, Antiochus III and his son; in the next line "year 147," 165/4 B.C., is not followed by a royal name, and this, according to Kugler, proves that the formula in p12the second is the same as the first and so the future Antiochus V must have been again associated. Aside from the fact that the Babylonians often employed the ancestor of upper ditto mark for this purpose, the contemporary records quoted above prohibit what in itself was a very improbable hypothesis.59

For the reign of Demetrius I we have a fairly good series, the earliest in the colophon of a contemporary astronomical tablet dated at Babylon, "year 151, Tabitu 4, Dimitri king," January 18, 160 B.C.; one of year 154, 158/57 B.C., apparently has no mention of a king. The last is year 161, 151/50 B.C.60 Alexander Balas appears in year 162, Tashritu 5 (October 21, 150 B.C.); in year 164, Kislimu 16 (December 8, 148 B.C.) the unnamed ruler is called only "king of the Babylonians," hinting perhaps of revolt or doubt of the true monarch; his last tablet is year 166, Arahsamna 20 (November 19, 146 B.C.).61 For Demetrius II we have little good information; only the horoscope of year 169, Addaru 6 (March 1, 142 B.C.) is contemporary.62

At no time do we regret more the distraction of Kugler from his true work than when we read the extract from the astronomical document which tells of the Parthian conquest, to have been published in the third volume of his Sternkunde,63 for it is contemporary. We miss the market prices, so needed for economic history, but even the little that is given is of extraordinary value. Kugler gives no translation, only a transliteration; in the absence of the cuneiform text, restoration and translation are highly dangerous, and the following attempt is given only to enforce the need of an adequate publication by a competent Assyriologist:

. . . . Men of all sorts [Demetrius collected,] to the cities of Media [he marched . . . .] that month, on the twenty second . . . . the rab uqu, (general,) entered the land of Akkad. [Against him] Arshaka (Arsaces), the king, to the city of Seleucia [went, the city of . . . . of] the land of Ashur (Assyria), which before the face of king Arshaka [had bowed down, . . . . into p13the city of Seleuci]a, the royal city, he entered, that month, on the twenty-eighth, [he sat on the throne]. Year 171 Arshaka, the king, on the 30th of Duzu (August 8, 141 B.C.) . . . . .

Then follow astronomical data according to Kugler. Later he read: "That month" — Ululu, August, or later — "on the third day, Nica[tor the king was made prisoner(?? . . . . .] Arshaka, the king. . . . the city Seleucia."64

Mithradates I conquered Seleucia before the lunarc eclipse of year 171, Duzu 13 (July 22, 141 B.C.); presumably, therefore, the enthronement was Simannu 28 (July 3, 141 B.C.). If the following reference to Nicator is to the captivity of Demetrius, this took place Ululu 3 (September 21, 141 B.C.) or an equivalent month later. Another astronomical document with data for Kislimu and Tabitu of this year (from December 5, 141 B.C. to February 1, 140 B.C.) mentions the king's departure to Arqania (Hyrcania), a battle of the Elamite before Apam'a (Apameia) on the river Silhu (Sellas of Messene).65

Our first Parthian business document was written little more than two months after the enthronement, Arisakka' king, years 107‑171 (October 13, 141 B.C.).66 That we have at once double dating, by the Arsacid era beginning Nisannu 1 (April 14, 247 B.C.)67 proves that the former era was already in use before the conquest of Babylonia. Next year, 108 Arsacid, 140/39 B.C., begins the titulary "king of kings."68 In the following, year 109‑173, 139/38 B.C., the formula is "Arisak', the king"; the same scribe writes a tablet whose formula is "Arshak' and Ri-[in(?)]-nu, his mother, kings," date lost, but the reference to the queen mother shows the king a young, Phraates II, who became king about 138 B.C.69 A curious "record of debt" dated "year six Ar'siuqqa, king," would be placed in 133 B.C.

Parthian conquest brought a revival of copies of ancient literature, especially astronomical, which now have contemporary date formulas. p14They come to a temporary close in year 116‑180, 132/1 B.C.70 The sole record of the temporary reconquest of Babylonia by Antiochus VII is a copy of an ancient hymn, year 182, Airu 22 (June 1, 130 B.C.).71 It is the last witness to Western rule; it is also strong evidence for the survival of the oriental spirit. Next, Babylonia fell into the hands of Aspasine of Charax, as a letter dated year 184, Airu 24 (June 1, 127 B.C.) proves,72 but in year 122‑186, 126/5 B.C., astronomical texts were once more dated by Arsaces the king.73

In their formulas the Babylonians living under Parthian rule used only Arshaka, Arshakan, or Arshakamma (Arsaces in Greek), like the Roman Caesar, a mere official title, unless there was a rival to the throne, when the personal name might be employed. As a result, the Babylonian tablets give little aid in determining the Parthian succession, and henceforth our reliance is on the coins. The few cases where the tablets present additional information can be understood only where their data are brought into connection with the general history, and these cases may be left for discussion by Dr. N. C. Debevoise in his forthcoming Political History of Parthia.

It is no reproach to students of Hellenistic history that they have been misled by those who should have known better. The purpose of the present study is not so much to bring the evidence up to date as to test what has been already utilized and to clear the ground for the new tablets of the Seleucid period which some day will be published.

Details of chronology tend to be dull, but the conclusions are fundamental. There are more interesting, though not more important, additions to our knowledge of the Hellenistic civilizations still hidden in cuneiform tablets.

Oriental Institute

University of Chicago


The Author's Notes:

1 To be shown in a forthcoming study by Dr. Waldo Dubberstein.

2 Cf. A. T. Olmstead, Jour. Amer. Oriental Soc., LVI (1936), 242‑57.

3 Studies in the history of Babylonian astronomy are in preparation.

4 J. Strassmaier, Zeitschrift für Assyriologie (hereafter cited ZA), VII (1892), 201 ff.; VIII (1893), 106 ff.; F. X. Kugler, Sternkunde und Sterndienst in Babel (cited as SK), II (1909), 438 ff.; Von Moses bis Paulus (1922) (cited as Moses), pp301 ff.; E. H. Minns, Journal of Hellenic Studies, XXXV (1915), 34 ff.; A. T. Clay, Babylonian Records in the Library of J. Pierpont Morgan (1913) (cited as BRM), Part II, pp13 f.; O. Krückmann, Babylonische Rechts- und Verwaltungsurkunden aus der Zeit Alexanders und der Diadochen (1931), pp20 ff.; E. Unger, Babylon (1931), pp318 ff.

5 Sidney Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts (1924), pp124 ff.; for corrected chronology of the second half cf. W. Otto, Sitzungsberichte der Bayerischen Akademie (1925), p3; Smith, Revue d'Assyriologie, XXII (1925), 179 ff.

Thayer's Note: Several more modern scholarly editions of the Diadochi Chronicle are now available; the tablet is thus usually now referred to as ABC 10, CM 30, or BCHP 3. Full details updated thru 2006, including background and bibliographical information, photographs, a translation, and commentary are found at Livius.Org.

6 H. Rawlinson, Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia, V, 66; F. H. Weissbach, Die Keilinschriften der Achämeniden (1911), pp132 ff.

7 Strassmaier, ZA, III (1888), 129 ff.; A. T. Clay, loc. cit.; O. Schroeder, Kontrakte der Seleukidenzeit aus Warka (1916) (cited Schroeder); L. Speleers, Recueil des inscriptions de l'Asie antérieure des Musées Royaux du Cinquantenaire à Bruxelles (1925) (cited Speleers), pp32 ff., 100 ff.; G. Contenau, Contrats néo-babyloniens (cited Contenau), Part 2 (1929); R. C. Thompson, Catalogue of the Late Babylonian Tablets in the Bodleian Library (1927), translation only. Scattered publications: C. F. Lehmann, ZA, VII (1892), 328 ff.; T. G. Pinches, Cuneiform Texts from Babylonian Tablets in the British Museum, Vol. IV (1898), Nos. 29d, 39c; A. T. Clay, Legal and Commercial Transactions, Dated in the Assyrian, Neo-Babylonian, and Persian Periods (1908), No. 129; A. Ungnad, Vorderasiatische Schriftdenkmäler der königlichen Museen zu Berlin, Vol. VI (1908), No. 227; J. B. Nies and C. E. Keiser, Historical, Religious, and Economic Texts and Antiquities (1920), Nos. 135 f.; A. Boissier, Babyloniaca, VIII (1924), 27 ff.

8 ZA, VII (1892), 202 ff.; VIII (1893), 106 ff.

9 Smith, Bab. Hist. Texts, pp150 ff.; cf. Kugler, Moses, pp318, 338 ff.; SK, II, 441.

Thayer's Note: Several more modern scholarly editions of the Antiochus Chronicle are now available; the tablet is thus usually now referred to as ABC 11, CM 32, or BCHP 5. Full details updated thru 2006, including background and bibliographical information, photographs, a translation, and commentary are found at Livius.Org.

10 Forschungen, II, 460.

11 Strassmaier, ZA, VIII, 149 ff.; X, 64 ff.

12 T. G. Pinches, Proc. Soc. Biblical Archaeology, VI (1884), 202 ff.; Strassmaier, ZA, VII, 197 ff.; VIII, 106 ff.; Kugler, SK, II, 364, n1.

13 Unpublished contracts dated from his reign are referred to by Smith, Revue d'Assyriologie, XXII (1925), 185.

14 Contenau, No. 249. That the Saros Canon gives year 6 of Philip as 318 means nothing. The dates B.C. are taken from an unpublished calendar compiled with the aid of Dr. Waldo Dubberstein.

15 Contrary to a widely held opinion — the dangerous result of a little knowledge — the ancient custom of the "accession year" and the consequent postdating still employed by the Achaemenids were abandoned by the Macedonians.

16 Pinches, Proc. Soc. Biblical Archaeology, VI (1884), 202 ff.; "the number of the tablet is not stated and is unknown to me" (Smith, op. cit., p179), but Pinches (Nimroud Central Saloon [1886], p123, No. 109) gives a tablet of Ululu (September), year five. No stress may be laid on the fact that the eighteen-year cycle gives the first year of Antigonus as 316, the Saros Canon as 317.

17 Diad. Chron., rev. 2.

Thayer's Note: That should be "rev. 3"; the text is here.

18 Strassmaier, ZA, III (1888), 137, 150.

19 Diad. Chron., rev. 13; cf. Smith, Revue d'Assyriologie, XXII (1925), 189 f.

Thayer's Note: That should be "rev. 14"; the text is here.

20 J. Schaumberger, Analecta Orientalia, VI (1933), 7; cf. below.

21 Contenau, No. 248.

22 Pinches, Cuneiform Texts, IV, 20d; year (Strassmaier, ZA, VII, 202) is dubious. The text (ibid., III, 135 f., 148 f.) is rightly assigned to year 11 of the Seleucid era, not to the reign of a Demetrius (Krückmann, op. cit., p21).

23 SK, II, 438 f.; Moses, pp307 ff.

24 Kugler, Orientalia (N.S.), II (1933), 105; J. Schaumberger, loc. cit.

25 Smith (Revue d'Assyriologie, XXII [1925], 183 f.) notes: "According to 'the 18year list,' Antigonus' 14th year would then be 303/2, not 302/1, as would be demanded by the equation with the 10th year of Seleucus. Owing to this discrepancy, Kugler seems to have tacitly corrected the date to '15th year of Antigonus.' " Smith then states that a renewed collation of the tablet leaves the question of reading 14 or 15 in doubt.

26 viii.199.

27 Clay, BRM, II, 13.

28 Ibid., Vol. II, No. 3.

29 Ibid., No. 5; Kugler (Moses, p309) quotes a tablet with only Seleucus for year 19, apparently not contemporary; Clay (BRMII, 13, n1) "records only Seleucus for the 31st year," but Kugler's explanation, "Demselbem offenbar misstrauend hat Clay leider kein Monat- und Tagdatum angegeben," is less plausible than the assumption that the tablet is broken. Year 32, quoted from Strassmaier by C. F. Lehmann-Haupt (Klio, III, 526), seems to be the "Si king" of the planet ephemeris published by Kugler (SK, I, 84), and there restored year [1]32; correct accordingly Kolbe, Beiträge zur syrischen und jüdischen Geschichte (1926), p13, n1.

30 Antiochus Chron., p17; first business document (Schroeder, No. 23), year 33, Tashritu 10 (October 12, 279 B.C.).

31 Weissbach, loc. cit.

32 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 11; the broken date might be 46 except for intercalation which proves year 47. Strassmaier (ZA, VIII, 108) begins the association a year earlier, and gives for year 47 "Anti'uksu, great king, and Asti'[uksu, his son, kings,"] but the formula "great king" is suspicious and should indicate that the astronomical tablet was written under Antiochus III who did use this formula.

33 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, Nos. 12 f.

34 SK, II, 439; Moses, pp313 ff. A supposed third, "year 49, An and Si kings" (Strassmaier, ZA, VIII, 108) is evidently Kugler's second.

35 Contenau, No. 236. The "year 51, An," with sufficient space for another "An," from an unpublished astronomical tablet (Strassmaier, ZA, VIII, 108), naturally does not permit Kugler (Moses, p316) to claim that Antiochus was still living April 17, 261 B.C.

36 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 14; Kugler himself (Moses, p317, n1) admits that the astronomical tablet (Epping-Strassmaier, ZA, VI, 94), "year 59, Siluku king," is an error for Antiochus II. His comparison of the one certain error in a contemporary business document (Strassmaier, ZA, III, 137 ff., 150 ff.) is not to the point; for though once the scribe writes down the name of the recently deceased Seleucus III, in the other references in the body of the document he gives correctly Antiochus III.

37 Strassmaier, ZA, VIII, 109; Schroeder, No. 20.

38 Moses, p318; SK, II, 440; Strassmaier, Cambyses, No. 400; cf. SK, I, 61 ff. for similar tablets.

39 Contenau, No. 238.

40 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 17.

41 Lehmann, ZA, VII, 330 ff.

42 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 28.

43 J. Oppert and J. Menant, Documents juridiques de l'Assyrie et de la Chaldée (1877), pp313 ff. Thureau-Dangin, Tablettes d'Uruk à l'usage des prêtresº du Temple d'Anu au temps des Séleucides (1922), No. 10, may be earlier — year 90, day 6 plus of unknown month, Antiochus king. "Antiochus king" is cited by Strassmaier (ZA, VIII, 109) for year 90, but Kugler (Moses, II, 44) shows that the calculations are for year 96.

44 F. Thureau-Dangin, op. cit., No. 1; Contenau, No. 241; cf. Olmstead, op. cit., LVI (1936), 242 ff.

45 Moses, pp324 f.

46 Schroeder, No. 32.

47 Ibid., Nos. 47, 14; Clay, BRM, II, 14.

48 Thureau-Dangin, op. cit., No. 24; citations of the whole year 124 to these and of 125 to "An and Si his son, kings" (Strassmaier, ZA, VIII, 109) are only from astronomical tablets.

49 Clay, BRM, Vol. I, No. 88; curiously enough, Kugler (Moses, p322, n2) argues that the double occurrence of "Si king" for year 125 is wrong as compared with another date 126.

50 Strassmaier, ZA, VIII, 110; Kugler (SKII, 448, n1) considers it an error.

51 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 37; citations for 134‑136, 178/77, 176/75 are astronomical, and the last was calculated ahead.

52 E. R. Bevan, Cambridge Ancient History, VIII, 498.

53 Speleers, Nos. 298, 300, cited by Krückmann (loc. cit.) as of year 136, actually are of year 96, and so of Antiochus III.

54 Clay, BRM, II, 14; Kugler (SK, II, 441), year 138, Nisannu 1 (April 17, 174 B.C.) is astronomical.

55 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 38; omission of the son for this year 139 in the list of Strassmaier (ZA, VII, 330) means nothing.

56 Schroeder, No. 17, Year 143, Shabatu 21 (March 3, 168) probably had the royal name in the broken beginning of the second line of the formula. Kugler (ZA, XV [1900], 191, Moses (p328), Strassmaier (ZA, VIII, 110), Clay (BRM, II, 14) all refer to one eclipse tablet for year 142, Tabitu 29 (January 23, 169 B.C.) with "An and An, his son, kings." The "Antiochus and Antiochus, his son, kings," of Epping-Strassmaier (ZA, VI, 218) is also computed.

57 Contenau, No. 245. Other cases where Antiochus is alone are Schroeder (No. 30), year 144, Simanuº 25 (July 3, 168 B.C.) and (No. 33) year 145, Addaru 13 (March 4, 166 B.C.) where text reads only (m)An-ti-'-uk-su], but there seems no room for more; Clay (BRM, II, 14), year 146, Ululu 12 (September 23, 166 B.C.); Schroeder (No. 13), year 146, Shabatu 7 (February 15, 165 B.C.); Reisner (Hymnen, No. 1), year 148, Addaru 22 (March 9, 163); Clay (BRM, Vol. II, No. 39), year 149, Shabatu 1 (February 9, 162 B.C.); year 150, Tashritu 18 (October 17, 162 B.C.).

58 Clay, BRM, II, 14; Krückmann, op. cit., p22; Kugler, Moses, pp328 f.

59 Moses, pp328 f.

60 Kugler, Moses, p334; Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 45; Contenau, No. 246 (name of king missing).

61 Clay, BRM, II, 14; Strassmaier, Actes du Huitième Congrès International des Orientalistes (1893), II, Part IB, pp281 ff.; Clay, BRM, Vol. II, No. 50.

62 Strassmaier, ZA, III, 137, 149 f.; Kugler, Moses, p335; Strassmaier (ZA, VIII, 111) gives year 168, 144/3 B.C.

63 SK, II, 442; Moses, pp338 f.

64 The historical conclusions will be presented in the forthcoming Political History of Parthia by Dr. N. C. Debevoise.

65 Pinches, Old Testament, pp484, 553; Moses, pp338 f.

66 Schroeder, No. 37.

67 Kugler, SK, II, 443.

68 Strassmaier, ZA, III, 130, 143.

69 Clay, BRM, Vol. II, Nos. 52 f.; cf. pp13, 33 f.

70 Kugler, SK, II, 446.

71 Reisner, op. cit., No. 25; this follows the cuneiform text. In the introduction the date is given year 183, which would make it May 19, 129 B.C.

72 Pinches, Babylonian and Oriental Record, IV (1890), 131 ff.

73 Kugler, SK, II, 446.


Thayer's Notes:

a Since the author wrote, there is now no need to rely on partial, interpreted versions; the Astronomical Diaries have been published.

b Correct when Olmstead wrote, but not any more: cuneiform records contemporary with Alexander have since been found.

C The printed text has "solar eclipse" here; there was no solar eclipse on this date, however. Checking with Oppolzer's Canon der Finsternisse and Bryant Tuckerman's Planetary, Lunar, and Solar Positions A.D. 2 to A.D. 1649 At Five-day and Ten-day Intervals (The American Philosophical Society, Philadelphia, 1962), I find that there was a solar eclipse on July 8, and a full moon on July 22, so a lunar eclipse is very, very likely. At any rate, if eclipse there was, it was a lunar, not a solar eclipse.


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