Nidin-Bêl (c. 336 BCE): Babylonian rebel king, mentioned on one cuneiform tablet.

Nidin-Bêl is mentioned in only one cuneiform text, the Uruk King List. It is a small tablet, which contains on its obverse side the names of several Babylonian kings - a.o. Nebuchadnezzar II and Nabonidus - and the Persian kings Cyrus the Great, Cambyses and Darius I the Great. The text of the reverse side runs as follows:

[... months, ...] whose second name is Nidin-Bêl
5 years, Darius
7 years, Alexander
6 years, Philip
6 years, Antigonus
31 years, Seleucus
22 years, Antiochus
15 years, Antiochus
20 years, Seleucus

The nameless king who assumed the throne name Nidin-Bêl (a colloquial form of Nidintu-Bêl, the name of one of the last kings of independent Babylonia) is otherwise unknown. He can be dated, however: the five regnal years of Darius III Codomannus must be 335/334-331/330. This suggests that Darius was in control of Babylon in 335; since he had ascended the throne in the summer of 336, we can date the reign of Nidin-Bêl in the autumn of 336 and/or the winter of 336/335.

His seizure of the throne may have been the consequence of the dynastic crisis in the Achaemenid empire after the death of Artaxerxes III Ochus in September 338. (He was murdered by the powerful eunuch Bagoas according to the Greek historian Diodorus of Sicily;note but he died of natural causes according to a cuneiform tablet in the British Museum.) The new king was Artaxerxes IV Arses, who was faced with rebellions in Egypt (Khababash) and Armenia (where satrap Artašata revolted), and an invasion from Macedonia. Ultimately, Bagoas killed Artaxerxes IV (text), and Artašata became king under the name of Darius III Codomannus. A revolt in Babylon fits this picture.

It should be noted and stressed that Nidin-Bêl is not known from other sources, although it is possible that the Alexander Chronicle (a late Babylonian text) refers to him too. Other king lists do not mention him, and no letters can be dated to his reign. The principle of Testis Unus Testis Nullus applies and it may be that his reign is simply a mirage caused by a scribal error.

This page was created in 2004; last modified on 14 November 2015.