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Arsacid diary on Politai

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An Arsacid Astronomical Diary on Politai. Photo Bert van der Spek.
The Arsacid diary on politai (British Museum).**
The Arsacid Diary on Politai is a historiographical text from ancient Babylonia. It is an Astronomical Diary and describes a river crossing by a Parthian king and his arrival in Babylon (?), and refers to the city's Greek citizens (politai). 

The cuneiform tablet (BM 35769) is in the British Museum. On this website, a reading is proposed by Bert van der Spek of the Free University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) and Irving Finkel of the British Museum.* Please note that this is a preliminary version of the first edition. This web publication is therefore intended to invite suggestions for better readings, comments and interpretations (go here to contact Van der Spek).
 

Description of the tablet

A small piece of an astronomical diary of the Arsacid period with historical content only. The length of the obverse is 4 cm, the length of line 2’ is 2.5 cm, and the length of line 10’ is 1.5 cm. The reverse of the tablet is lost. It is impossible to calculate the original size of the tablet.

We thank professor W.G. Lambert, who drew our attention to this tablet.

Babylonian Chronicles

Literature

TEXT

TRANSLATION

1’ [……….] x ku4-ú ana lugal./meš\ [……….] [……….] they entered. To the kings [……….]
2’     [………iti/ud b]i  al-te-me um-m[a ……….] [………. Th]at [month/day] I heard as follows [: ……….]
3’ [……….] sig.meš-šú erín.meš-šú ana /E\.[ki (?) ……….] [……….] his nobles, his troops to Bab[ylon?……….]
4’ [……….] ídmaš.gú.gàr i-t[e-bir ……….] [……….] he cro[ssed] the Tigris [……into Seleucia on the Tigris]
5’ [………. ur]u? lugal-ú-tú ku4-ub um?[……….] [and on the King’s Canal, the cit]y? of kingship, he entered x[……….]
6’ [……….] mAr-ša-ka-a lugal m[eš??……….] [……….] Arsaces, the king/s??\[……….]
7’ [………. a]l-te-me um-ma ina KI [……….] [………. ] I heard as follows: in [……….]
8’ [……….]x.hi.a kap?-pi sum u [……….] [……….]s of a bowl? he gave and [……….]
9’ [……….l]úpu-li-te-/e\ [……….] [……….] the politai [……….]
10’ [………. ud] 5.kam ina é-su k[u4 ……….] [………. day] 5th in his house he en[tered ……….]
11’ [……….] x x x [……….] [……….] x x x [……….]

Commentary

This piece is supposed to be part of an Astronomical diary in view of the small script and the expression “I heard as follows,” which occurs in lines 2’ and line 7’. This phrase is used by composers of diaries who hear news from places outside Babylon.

That it dates from the Arsacid period is clear from line 6’. Politai (Greek or Hellenized citizens) occur often in the diaries from the reign of Antiochus IV Epiphanes on; first attestation: the Politai Chronicle (BCHP 13).

1’, 6’ 
The plural sign meš seems odd, but is practically certain in line 1’ and is possible in line 6’.

 
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