|home : index : ancient Mesopotamia : Babylonian Chronicles|
Judicial Chronicle (BCHP 17)
(British Museum, London)
Chronicle concerning Temple Robberies is a historiographical text from
It describes events in 34 and 90 SE
(i.e., 278 and 222 BCE) and therefore belongs to the reign of the Seleucid
III the Great. For a very brief introduction to the literary genre
of chronicles, go here.
The cuneiform tablet (BM 47737 = 81-11-3, 442) 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.
Text and translation
Diaries. Joannès discussed the relevant passages, and our
can best be seen as an addition to his publication (Joannès 2000).
The robbery of 34 SE
= 278 BCE is even mentioned in the Diaries. It shows again the close relationship
between the diaries and the chronicles.
The court proceedings include interrogation under torture, subsequent conviction, and the punishment is death penalty by burning. The last case mentioned here is exceptional in that the accused did not admit their crime at first, that one of the accused died afterwards in jail and that the others complied after a second interrogation under torture.
A special arrangement was made for the wife of one of the convicted. It may have been a penalty as well, or she was taken up in temple service as she probably had no husband or son left to maintain her.
The chronicle has a resemblance with the Gold Theft Chronicle (BCHP 15), which also reports temple robbery, this time from the Day-One-Temple (=New year's festival Temple (?)) and where the thieves are also interrogated on the rack of interrogation, convicted and sent to the stake.
The first document with Antiochus III in the date formula is dated to 21.IX.90 SE = 21 December 222. The last document dated to Seleucus III Keraunos is from 29.III.89 SE = 10 July 223 BC. Our document could have given more precise information on the month in which Antiochus III ascended the throne, if it had given the name of the reigning king in the date formula. The fact that no king’s name is mentioned may reflect the uncertain situation of the time: Antiochus III had to cope with the rebellion of Molon and it may not have been clear who was in power before the ninth month. At the same time it is strange that the chronicler preferred to give detailed accounts of court proceedings concerning temple robbery, while ignoring the turbulent political situation.
The conjunction ù, “and,” seems superfluous, which would suggest the addition ana tar@a, “in front of”. Ina ašabi, “in the presence of”, may then refer to presence of the shatammu and kinishtu as witness at the legal proceedings and ana tar@a to the confrontation with the judges who passed judgment. However, in lines 24-25 no distinction is made between judges, shatammu and kinishtu.
mah.meš = ma-’-du, “much in quantity”. Cf. CAD MI, p. 20 b, s.v. mâdu. This interpretation of the sign MAH occurs very often in late texts. Joannès, followed by Glassner, translated “sacred”, apparently as a translation of MAH = @iru.
KI: Joannès proposes the emendation <E>.KI, “Babylon”, as a beginning of the colophon. Actually one would expect a verb. KI might be a preposition (itti, “with”) with the meaning “about”. Cf. AHw I, p. 405a, s.v. itti A 8 e), “um”. The verb may have been present in the gap.
At present any solution is speculative.
Bert van der Spek © 2005
Revised: 31 March 2006