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ABC 7: The Nabonidus Chronicle

Nabonidus' chronicle. British Museum, London (Britain). Photo Marco Prins.
Nabonidus Chronicle, reverse (British Museum)
The Nabonidus Chronicle is a historiographical text from ancient Babylonia. It describes the reign of Nabonidus, the last king of the Babylonian Empire, who lost his realm to the Persian king Cyrus the Great in 539 BCE. These pages present a scholarly edition; an easy-to-read version can be found here.
General Introduction Colum i-ii Column iii-iv Comment Literature

The notes to this web-edition are based on A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (1975, 1977²), but there are modifications, that are explained here.

Commentary: Reverse

GAZ is practically certain. After it one might read ídI[diqlat] (so Smith).

māt ta[m-tim? ...]: The traces of the sign after māt are almost certainly of the sign TAM.

[JL:] Initially, Grayson read māt ta[m-tim? ...], but in his Corrigenda, he wrote:
At the end of the line a reading kurPa[r-su?...] is preferable. This suggestion stems from Mrs. E. von Voigtlander and was communicated to me by Professor G. Cameron. My thanks are due to both.
The text of this web edition has been changed accordingly, but both readings are possible: either something happened in the Sealand, or the Persians did something.

At the beginning of the line there is room to restore [MU xkám mdNábû-nā'id dN]abû. Cf. ii.10. Parallels to this line are found in Chron.16:18f, 20f, 22, 23, and 27. The restoration is based on the parallels.

É?-: Smith is probably correct in preferring this to the older reading IT[I].

maqqītu(bala)tu4 karāni iqqi(bala): Cf. von Soden, Assyrisches Handwörterbuch, p.607.

Cf. ii.6f, 11f, 20f, 24f.


[RJvdS:] Grayson believed that the last word on this line was Akkadîki [...], but there appears to be insufficient space for another sign.

The sign IM is a problem. Neither the interpretation of Smith nor that of Weidner, IAK p.101, n.9 is acceptable.

[Grayson Addenda:] Cf. Grayson, Assyrian Royal Inscriptions 1, §464, n.140.
[RJvdS:] "which are above the wind and below the wind" probably means "from everywhere" (from directions upstream and downstream). The word IM = šāru = "wind" also means "direction". Cf. CAD Š II, s.v. šāru, p. 137.

At the end of the line one should probably restore: ina muhhi [ah()]

The scribe mistakenly copued ummānini kurAkkadîki ki īpušūšú twice but then erased the dittography.

BALA.KI: See the note to Chron.1 i 35. hubta ihbut: For the reading, see the note to Chron.10 rev.27.

m/Ug\-ba-ru: The sign UG is faint but the reading is certain. The same name appears in iii.22. Whether Ugbaru is identical with the Gubaru of iii.20 is uncertain. Certainly neither can be identical with Gobryas, governor of Babylon, as Smith, BHT, pp.121f suggested. See San Nicolò, Prosopographie, pp.54-64.

[JL:] Grayson translated "the Guti"; the text, however, has "the land of Gutium", and I have adapted the translation accordingly.
Ugbaru may be identical to the Babylonian official Gobryas who deserted to Cyrus, mentioned by Xenophon, Cyropaedia, 4.6.

kuštuk-šume: The sign is definitely ŠU, not KU (as Smith transliterated). On the word tukšu, which probably means shield (here "shield-bearers" - a type of soldier), see Heidel, Sumer 9 (1953), p.181 note to v.7. It is a synonym of arïtu, "shield". The arïtu was made of wood, metal, or leather. See von Soden, Assyrisches Handwörterbuch, p.68f.

[RJvdS:] It is rare that a special reference is made to the panoply of an enemy; cf. iii.26f and the Invasion of Ptolemy III Chronicle (BCHP 11) obv.6, with note.

See R. Borger, Or. n.s. 34 (1965), p.440 and CAD 2 (B), p.177.
DIŠ: This is a scribal error.

[JL:] Grayson translated "the Guti"; the text, however, has "the land of Gutium", and I have adapted the translation accordingly.

ha-ri-ni-e: This is a hapax legomenon. Von Soden, Assyrisches Handwörterbuch, p.325f takes it as a form of hirinnu, which is a synonym of nādu, "skin container". Without further evidence, this interpretation is doubtful. CAD 6 (H), p.102, translates "branches". Cf. Oppenheim, ANET² p.306, n.14

[RJvdS:] The filling of harû-vessels was a religious ceremony in which the king took part. See CAD H, p. 117, s.v. harû (1) (a large container), (2) (a religious ceremony). We may assume that there was some connection with the cult of the temple of Nabu ša harê (mentioned in III 25 under the name E-gidri-kalamma-summu) and the New Year festival. In the Late Babylonian period it was Nabû who handed over the royal insignia to the king before he entered the temple of Marduk. In 205 BCE we encounter the same ritual in respect to Antiochus III the Great who was in Babylon in order to attend the New Year festival:
Astronomical Diaries II, p. 202, no -204C r. 14-16:
  1. … [ITU] BI U4 8.KAM mAn LUGAL u /LÚ x\
  2. [TA] É.GAL È-ni a-na KÁ SIKIL.[LA šá É].SAG.GÍL ha-ru-ú šá MU /x\
  3. [ŠÀ.TA]M!? É.SAG.GÍL ina IGI.MEŠ-šu-nu DÙ-
  1. … That [month = Nisannu], on the 8th (7 April 205 BCE), king Antiochus and the [x]-persons
  2. went out [from] the palace to the Pure Gate [of E]sagila. The harû-ritual of year /x\ (New year?)
  3. [the Šata]mmu of Esagila performed in front of them. …
See for more details of this interpretation: Karlheinz Kessler, 'Harinê – Zu einer problematischen Passage der Nabonid-Chronik,' in: W. Arnold & H. Bonzin eds., "Sprich doch mit deinen Knechten aramäisch, wir verstehen es!" 60 Beiträge zur Semitistik. Festschrift für Otto Jastrow zum 60. Geburtstag. (Wiesbaden 2002), 389-393.

It may be interesting to note that the "road fom the palace to the Pure Gate of Esagila" is better known as the "Procession Road".

Cf. [...] u Bābìliki šu-lum-šú-nu iq-ta-bi, Smith, BHT pl.X vi 2 (Nabonidus Verse Account). Although the line is broken, this phrase must refer to Cyrus.

mGu-ba-ru: see the note to iii.15.
hta(nam)-šú h(at)ūti(nam)meš ina Bābili5ki ip-te-qid: cd. San Nicolò, Prosopographie, pp.59f. Another possible interpretation is to read: hāt kiššat(šú) h(at)ūtimeš ... ip-te-qid, "He appointed Gubaru governor of all the governors (in Babylon)". For h(at)ūti, see Borger, Asarh. p.49, note to line 13.

The entry of these gods into Babylon was narrated in iii.9-11.

itiAddaru(še): The sign is quite clearly ŠE om the original although Smith's copy does not show ŠE.

mUg-ba-ru: See the note to iii.15.

[RJvdS:] The missing month name can only be Addaru, as becomes clear in the next line.

See the note to Chron.1 iv 22.

qaqqad-su-nu ipattarū(du8)meš: Cf. i-pat-ta-ru qaqqad-su-nu, Smith BHT pl IX v 26 (Nabonidus Verse Account).

É.PA: The nature of this official and the reading in Akkadian is unknown. Smith thought the É.PA was an abbreviation for the temple just mentioned, but this is unlikely.

[RJvdS:] The Egidrikalammasummu is the temple of Nabu ša harê; cf. the note above.

lu-bu-uš-bi: One is tempted to emend to lu-bu-uš-tu4/. Was Cambyses barred from taking the hand of Nabu or was he allowed to take the hand only of Nabu and not of Marduk?

[Grayson, Addenda:] Cf. the Puzur-Sin inscription (ARI 1, §§173-177 and, n.82) where one of the non-Assyrian features of a descendant of Šamši-Adad I was the manner of his dress (lu-bu-uš-ta-šu).
[RJvdS:] The reading "Elamite dress" appears to be certain.

kušiš-patmeš: Smith mistakenly has  instead of  in his transliteration.


[RJvdS:] The son of Bel is, of course, Nabu.

This last column could have contained more details about the year in which Cyrus captured Babylon or it could have described subsequent years.

EZEN-x-KASki: Landsberger has restored this ideogram in Proto-e-a 777 (MSL 2, p.87), where the reading ù-un is given. It could hardly be Unu = Heliopolis, for which see Streck, Asb. p.813.

These two lines may be a catch-line., the online home of Ancient Warfare magazine
General Introduction Colum i-ii Column iii-iv Comment Literature
© A.K. Grayson
Webedition by Jona Lendering
Online 2008
Revision: 23 Jan 2009
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