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Ruin of Esagila chronicle (BCHP 6)

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Antiochus I Soter as crown prince. Coin from the Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara (Turkey). Photo Marco Prins.
Coin of Antiochus I Soter (Museum of Anatolian Civilizations, Ankara)
The Babylonian Ruin of Esagila chronicle (BCHP 6) is one of the historiographical texts from ancient Babylonia. It describes how a Seleucid crown prince (probably Antiochus, the son of king Seleucus Nicator) fell during a sacrifice on the ruin of Esagila. For a very brief introduction to the literary genre of chronicles, go here.

The cuneiform tablets (BM 32248 + 32456 + 32477 + 32543 + 76-11-17 unnumbered) 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 of what will be the chronicle'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 (obv)
Commentary (rev)

Literature

BCHP 6: The Ruin of the Esagila Chronicle, obverse. Photo Bert van der Spek.
BCHP 6: Ruin of Esagila Chronicle, obverse (British Museum).**

Description of the tablet

The present state of the tablet is made up of five fragments, joined by Irving Finkel. The left and right edges are preserved and measure ca. 2.5 cm thickness. The width of the tablet is 10 cm. and the lines contain ca. 14-18 signs. The broken upper edge measures 4 cm, the lower 2.8 cm, which indicates that possibly the upper half of the tablet is lost, and that not much is missing from the bottom end. The length of the tablet, as preserved, is 11 cm.

The tablet in question is really a strange tablet in various respects. The tablet looks like a chronicle, but the reverse lines 3’ff look more like the minutes of a court proceeding. The tablet is very clumsily written with crude, large and badly written signs. It may have been a school text or a draft note of events of two years, later to be used for a real chronicle or to be inserted in an Astronomical diary.

BCHP 6: The Ruin of the Esagila Chronicle, reverse. Photo Bert van der Spek.
BCHP 6: Ruin of Esagila Chronicle, reverse

No date is preserved, nor a royal name. The crown prince (DUMU LUGAL, mar šarri), however, is most likely Antiochus, son of Seleucus I Nicator. The addition (šá bît redûti), made in the Antiochus and Sin Chronicle (= BCHP 5), is not used in the preserved part of this tablet, so the tablet may be dated between the period ca. 302 (when the first elephants arrived from India) and 281, when Seleucus I was killed. It seems most likely, however, that the tablet dates to the time after 293, when Antiochus was appointed co-ruler with his father, with special authority in the Eastern part of the empire, i.e. east of the Euphrates. Antiochus spent much of his time in Babylon and the chronicles testify his activities.
TEXT: OBVERSE
TRANSLATION
@ = tsade; & = tet
line numbers with link refer to commentary
 
1' [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]x-nu [(..)] [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] .. .. [(..)]
2' [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] ana E.KI [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] to Babylon
3' K[I?? .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..].MEŠ x šá dEN wi[th?? .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] .. .. of Bel
4' ana D[UMU.M]EŠ E.KI [UKKIN šá É.SAG.]GÍL S[UM]–in u PAD dINNIN to the Bab[ylon]ians (of) [the assembly of Esa]gila  he [gav]e and an offering
5' ina muh-hi ni-ip-lu šá /É.SAG.GÍL\[x iš-k]u-nu ina muh-hi ni-ip-lu on the ruin of /Esagila\  they?! [arran]ged. On the ruin 
6'šá É.SAG.GÍL in-da-qut GU4./MEŠ\.H[I.A?ù] PAD.dINNIN GIM GIŠ.HUR of Esagila he fell. Oxen [and ] an offering in the Greek fashion
7' KUR Ia-a-ma-nu DÙ- /DUMU\ LUGAL [ERÍN.ME]Š-šú gišGIGIR.MEŠ-šú he made. The son of the king, his [troop]s, his wagons,
8' (v) AM.SI.MEŠ<-šú> SAHAR.HI.A šáÉ.SA[G].G[ÍL i]d-de-ku-ú (and) <his> elephants removed the debris of Esagila.
9' x[x.ME]Š? ina maš-ka-/an?\ É.SAG.GÍL GU7-’  [ITI] BI UD 17?.KAM /x x\ on the empty lot of Esagila they ate. That [month], 17? day,
10' IZI ŠUB /ina qé-reb ERI.DU10\.KI ana tar-@i /x\ [x ina]/lìb\-bi ÙR!-šú GÁL a stroke of lightning /within Eridu\ against the x [building] in the middle of its roof took place.
11' ITI SIG ITI B[I .. .. .. .. .. ..] X [.. .. ..]X ÍD MAŠ.GÚ.GÀR Month Simanu (III). Th[at]  month [ .. .. .. .. .. ..] x [.. .. ..]x the Tigris
12' /i\-bir-ma a-na [.. .. .. .. ..] a-la-ku iq-bi il-lik ana | EGIR-šú GUR-ur he crossed and he said to go to [.. .. .. .. ..]. He went, (but) he returned.
13' [I]TI KIN ITI BI [ia-a-ma]-na-a-a ina KA LUGAL ana m[u]h-hi [Mo]nth Ululu (VI). That month, [Gre]eks at the command of the king to [.. .. ]
14' [ x É.SA]G.GÍL É.ZI.D[A] /É?\.MEZ?.LA[M?ma]-ha-zi x [.. ..] [... Esa]gila,  Ezid[a] /E?\.mez?la[m?, san]ctuaries x [.. ..]
15' [.. .. ..]x ITI ŠE ITI [BI ..] DUMU E.KI LÚ.ME[Š .. ..] [.. .. ..]x Month Addaru (XII). [That] month, the Babylonians[ .. ..]
16' [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] E.KI.MEŠ X[.. .. ..] [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] Babylonians x[.. .. ..]
17' [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]  KA MAH/IL [.. .. ..] [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]  .. .. .. [.. .. ..]
broken off (3 lines missing ?)
broken off (3 lines missing ?)
TEXT: REVERSE
(3 lines missing ?)
No translation is given of the reverse, because of the difficulties. Assyriologists are requested to send in suggestions. Please take a look at the pictures on this page.
1’ [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]x x x 8 UR[U.MEŠ .. ..]
2’ [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. i-n]a É.GAL 5 fkal-ba-t[im? .. ..]
------------------------------------------
------------------------------------------
3’ [.. .. .. .. .. .. ..] x x DÙ?i-te?-ri-šú-pa-ta-n[u? .. ..]
4’ [.. .. .. p] i?-ri?-il?-tum ana a-kal kar-@i-šú GIN-m[a]
5’ [.. .. .. ..] /x x? ak\- ka-’- i ki-’  ú-bal-la& n[ap-šá-ti-š]ú
6’ [x x x x x x ina? ta-az-z]i?-im?-tu ki-’  KI-šú ú-ra-du [..]x
7’ [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. d]a-tu-na-’  ib-šá-/’ \ 
8’ KU KI A MA?- x [.. .. .. .. ..] x-na-tum li-bi[r]-’
9’ana É.LAGABxIM.MEŠ lu-mur? x [ .. .. .. .. ..]x MEŠ X [.. .. .. .. ..] x (x)
10’lu mar-ri ki-’  ma-re-šá-nu ŠEŠ [.. .. .. .. .. M]URUB4?lúDUMU LUGAL
11’ ul-la  lu  NE-ti ik-kil GAR-ma KI [.. .. .. .. ..] i-dab-bu-ub
12’ um-man-ka šu-nuDUMU LUGAL?? ana É [um-man-nu li-t]e-ru-ub
13’ e-ru-ub ana É um-man-nu šá hi[-&a i-pu-šú lu-ú a]m-hur
14’ um-man-na-a ki-i ú-še-e[l-lu-’ .. .. ..]x KU4-ub
15’el-la-mu-ú-aLAGABxIM.M[EŠ .. .. .. .. .. á]š-bu-’  GÍR.MEŠ
16’a-man-na-ku-nu/LAGABxIM\.MEŠ x[.. .. .. .. .. ..] x.MEŠ-ka  LUGAL-ú-tú
17’ [x da]n?-na-at /il/ka/tum\-x[.. .. .. .. .. .. . t]ú?šá pe-tu-tuÉ.GAL
18’ [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. K]I.MEŠ gab-bi NUN
19’ [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] i-nu-ú hi-&u-šú
20’ [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]u ZU u dan-nu-um
Little, if anything, missing.
to part two (commentary)
 
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