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Demetrius and Arabia fragment

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The Demetrius and Arabia Fragment.
The Demetrius and Arabia
fragment, reverse (lower part)
(British Museum; ©*; note)
The Diary fragment on Demetrius and Arabia is a very brief  historiographical notice from ancient Babylonia. The tablet can not be dated but may belong to the reign of the Seleucid king Demetrius I Soter (161-150).

The cuneiform tablet (BM 34433) is 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 of what will be the diary's very first edition. This web publication is therefore intended to invite suggestions for better readings, comments and interpretations (go here to contact Van der Spek).

Babylonian Chronicles
Description
Text and translation
Commentary

Literature

 

Description of the tablet

Small piece containing part of the lower reverse of an Astronomical Diary (see colophon on upper edge). The edge measures, as preserved, 2 cm, but it may have been thicker. The obverse is lost. The height of the piece is 2.1 cm, the width at the lower edge 1.5 cm. It is impossible to know how many lines were lost at the beginning and end of the lines.
The Demetrius and Arabia Fragment, upper edge. Photo Bert van der Spek.
The Demetrius and Arabia
fragment, upper edge
(British Museum).**

Cuneiform tablets normally have a flat side (the obverse) and a more convex side (the reverse). Babylonian scribes started to inscribe the obverse side, and then turned the tablet upside down and continued to write on the reverse. At the end of the text the scribe was at the upper edge again. Sometimes the edges are inscribed as well. In this case the upper edge contained a colophon, easy to see, when the tablet was on a shelf: "Diary of [month A to B, year X Demetrius, king]". The piece we have here is apparently the lower end of the reverse (it is convex, and historical notes are usually at the end of a diary). Consequently, the edge is the upper edge of the tablet.
TEXT
TRANSLATION
1' ...... l]úERIN.MEŠ TA /lú?\ E[RÍN.MEŠ ……  ...... ] the troops with/by the t[roops ......
2' …... ] šá mDi-mit-/ri\ LUGAL u /\[ERÍN.MEŠ ...... ...... ] which/of Demetrius, the king, and the [troops? ......
3' ......  ]x u gišBÁN šá GAR-an ITI BI x[...... ...... ] x and the sûtu-measure, which he established. That month x[ ......
4' ...... g]i-iš-ri AN.TA-ú šá Í[D ...... ......] the upper [br]idge of the ri[ver ......
5' ...... ]ERÍN.MEŠ ina KUR A-ra-bi ana ma-a[h-ri-...... ...... ] the troops in the land of Arabia to? [ ......
6' ...... BÀ]D? šámSi-lu-ku GAR-at [ ...... ......at the wa]ll? of Seleucus was established. [ ......
7' ...... mTi-ma]r-ku MU?-šú SA4 MU [BI ? ..... ...... Tima]rchus he was called. [That?] year? [ ......
Upper edge Upper edge
/EN.NUN šá\ [...... /Diary of\ [ ......

This photo is used by kind permission from the InscriptiFact/West Semitic Research Project of the University of Southern California in Los Angeles.
to part two (commentary)
 
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