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An Astronomical Diary mentioning Gaugamela
Bust of Alexander the Great, from Delos, now in the Louvre.
title "Astronomical Diary concerning month VI and VII of the fifth year
of Artašata who is called Darius" may not sound very exciting, but this
is one of the most important cuneiform sources for the eastern campaign
of the Macedonian
the Great. Not only does this Astronomical
Diary describe the omens before the battle of Gaugamela
and the fight itself (on 1 October 331), but it also tells how the "king
of Asia" entered Babylon.
The cuneiform tablets (BM 36761 + BM 36390) are in the British Museum. On this website, a new reading is proposed by Bert van der Spek of the Free University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Irving Finkel of the British Museum. Please notice that this is a preliminary version. This web publication is therefore intended to invite suggestions for better readings, comments and interpretations (go here to contact Van der Spek).
The restorations are speculative, but we know that it was Alexander’s plan to rebuild Esagila (Arrian of Nicomedia, Anabasis 7.17.2), and we know that Babylonians did pay tithes to the treasury of Esagila with the specific purpose of removing the debris of Esagil (Cf. Del Monte 1997: 13-17 + n. 41; Jursa 1998: 73f). That high functionaries enter the temple “and prostrate themselves” is a recurring theme in the diaries.
Cf. Flavius Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 11.331 for Alexander ordering a sacrifice according to local customs.