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Chronicle concerning Antiochus and the Sin temple (BCHP 5)
BCHP 5: the upper left part ofthe Antiochus and Sin Chronicle (British Museum).**
|The Babylonian Chronicle
concerning Antiochus and Sin ("Antiochus and Sin
5) is one of the historiographical texts from ancient Babylonia.
It describes how the Seleucid
crown prince Antiochus,
the son of king Seleucus
Nicator, sacrificed to the moon god Sin and resettled
The cuneiform tablets (BM 32440 + 32581 + 32585 and others) 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 edition. This web publication is intended to invite suggestions for better readings, comments and interpretations (go here to contact Van der Spek).
Text and translation
Coin of Antiochus I Soter (Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara)
The left upper part of the tablet (picture) is damaged. Yet traces are left. Traces of MU, KAM and ITI are fairly clear, but the most important sign, the year number, is difficult to recover. In view of the fact that Antiochus was made co-ruler with the title "king" in Seleucus’ 20th year (292 BCE), and Antiochus is named "crown prince" rather than "king", one would suspect that the tablet predates 292. However, the traces of the year number show fairly clearly two angle bars (Winkelhaken) + a number of (5?) vertical wedges, which means that the chronicle describes events of his period as co-ruler. In any case, it postdates the foundation of Seleucia, since the city probably is mentioned reverse 8’ and certainly 20’.
It must be kept in mind that this was the first time in Babylonian tradition that a co-ruler was appointed, where the co-ruler was clearly subordinate to the real king. It could not be compared with Šamaš-šuma-ukin and Kandalanu who were really kings of Babylonia next to Aššurbanipal, or Cambyses who was king next to Cyrus the Great, who are recorded as such in Babylonian king lists. In the Seleucid king lists Seleucus Nicator remained the king of Babylon until his death in 280 to be succeeded by his son as such only after that date. Hence, the Babylonians found the solution in choosing a title which was expressly used for crown princes, who had been designated as successors: mar šarri ša bīt redūti, "the son of the king of the succession house" (AHW I 134 s.v. bītum B; II 981 s.v. ridūtum 4b). While in a dating formula Antiochus could be named "king" next to his father, this did not seem appropriate in a running text where the real reigning king was not mentioned.
The second point that leads to the supposition that the chronicler refers to Antiochus' period as co-ruler, is that he acts as a ruler. He visits temples, performs offerings, orders the removal of the dust of Esagila, functions as arbitrator in conflicts. He seems to have been the actual ruler in Babylonia.
BAR-tum can be a rendering of ahītu(m) or (w)uššurtu(m). Ahītu means inter alia "outside, outskirts, side", in plural: "outlying regions" (CAD A1, 190-1). The phrase, however, occurs normally with a substantive (e.g. ālu, "city") or with a verb (e.g. asū, "to go outside"). Hence we opt for (w)uššurtu(m). The word is a substantive derived from (w)uššuru(m), "to release", which, among many other meanings, is used for putting out to free pasture of sheep and horses (cf. AHw III, p. 1486b, s.v. wašārum 11h.). The adjective (w)uššuru(m) or muššuru is used for sheep, which are put out to free pasture (AHw III, p. 1498b, s.v. (w)uššuru(m) 5)
umāmu means in the first place "wild animals", but the meaning "cattle" is also attested, though in Middle Assyrian only; cf. AHw III p. 1412, s.v. umāmu(m), "Tiere, Getier", B1) mA "Vieh". If wild animals are concerned the message of the chronicle would be that wild animals were driven to outlying regions on the east or west side of the Euphrates. The west side is then the most probable option. In view of the fact that a shepherd and Bit-Gurā are mentioned in obv. 4 and animals on the east or west bank in obv. 5, one is led to the assumption that the animals were first driven to Bit-Gurā, where they were put out to pasture.
The use of this exceptional term may be explained by the assumption that elephants were involved. It is known from Ruin of Esagila Chronicle (BCHP 6) that Antiochus used elephants for the removal of debris of Esagila.
Enitenna (É.NĶ.TE.EN.NA or É.NĶ.TE.EN.DU10), "House of (pleasant) rest", temple of Sin in East Babylon. Cf. George 1993, p. 132, no. 870 and George 1992, No. 1 = Tintir IV 9). The peculiar writing in this chronicle, EN.TE.[(EN?).NA] is probably a phonetic spelling. A comparable deviant writing with EN occurs in the context of goddesses who attended Marduk at the Akitu house in Babylon, VAS 24 109 // 110, ed. Pongratz-Leisten, BaF 16 no. 10 (though she could not read the temple name in question): [dNIN.GAL] É.GIŠ.NU11.GAL dNIN.GAL É.EN.TA.NA. A good parallel for Sin and his two temples! (personal communication A.R. George).
It is difficult to understand, why Antiochus paid this special attention to the moongod.
The name must be Greek and looks like *Polyteudas, but that name is unattested. We are looking for a better solution.
Secondly, when he founded Seleucia on the river Tigris and brought to it Babylonian colonists, he spared the wall of Babylon as well as the sanctuary of Bel, near which he permitted the Chaldaeans to live.This passage has often been used to underline the decline of Babylon, in combination of other passages which stress the fact that Babylon declined after the foundation of Seleucia (Strabo of Amasia, Geography 16.1.5; Diodorus of Sicily, Library, 2.9.9; Pliny the Elder, Natural history 6.121-122.
The other text which is often mentioned as a testimony of the forced migration of Babylonians to Seleucia is Astronomical Diary I, p. 345, no. –273 B : 35’-36’ (12. XII. SE 37 = 26 March 274 BCE).
Hunger's edition made clear that a migration was not at issue, rather the sending of an embassy of Babylonian members of the Temple Council, three days after messages of the king form Sardes arrived (cf. Van der Spek 1993b: 97-98).
It cannot be denied that Babylonians moved to Seleucia, since this is attested by the finds of several cuneiform tablets in Seleucia (Doty 1978/79; Oelsner 1986: 236-7; 501). The tablet published by Doty concerns the dedication of a temple slave by a person with a Greek name dated to 87 SE (= 225/4 BCE) to the Nergal temple of Cuthah. The place name is lost in the dating formula, but it may well have been Cuthah. Oelsner assumed that the dedicator was a Greek on the basis of his name. This conclusion is not necessary. Many Babylonians with Greek names are attested in Hellenistic Babylonia.
Now it seems more likely that it was Seleucus' first intention to found a primarily Macedonian city, to which end all (mala ša) Macedonians who lived in Babylon were forced to move to Seleucia. After this date Macedonians and Greeks were not encouraged anymore to settle in Babylon, and as I have argued earlier (Van der Spek 1986, 68-78; 1987, 65-70), Babylon remained a primarily Babylonian city. It was only Antiochus IV Epiphanes who again started a Greek colonising policy in Babylon, as is now confirmed by the Greek Community Chronicle (= BCHP 14).
The Macedonians in question will have been the soldiers, who were established there by Alexander the Great. Alexander had left a garrison in Babylon when he arrived there (Arrian of Nicomedia, Anabasis 3.16.4; 7.18.1; Quintus Curtius Rufus 5.1.43; Diod. 17.64.5) led by Apollodoros of Amphipolis and Menes of Pella. Agathon of Pydna was in charge of the 700 Macedonians who guarded the "citadel" of Babylon (Diod. 17.64.5; Curtius Rufus 5.41). The garrison still existed in the days of the rule of Antigonus Monophthalmus (315-311 BCE): Diphilos was appointed garrison commander (Diodorus 19.91.3). During the Babylonian War between Antigonus and Seleucus (311-307), described in the Diadochi Chronicle (BCHP 3 = ABC 10), the garrison was still there (see above).
miksu dannu, "heavy taxation". CAD M2, p. 63-64, s.v. miksu: "1. share of the yield of a field (due to tenant and owner or paid to the palace as owner of the field), 2. customs dues." The pressure of taxation may have increased because of the departure of the Macedonians. The city’s fixed taxation sum (phoros) may not have been reduced.