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Document on land and tithes (BCHP 16)
concerning a tithe of arable land and shatammu
Nergal-ina-teši-etir is one of the historiographical texts from ancient
It can be dated to 75-90 SE
(or 236-222 BCE) and therefore belongs to the reigns of the Seleucid
II Callinicus, Seleucus
III Keraunos, and Antiochus
III the Great. For a very brief introduction to the literary genre
of chronicles, go here.
The cuneiform tablets (BM 33020 = 78-10-15,1 + BM 33028 = 78-10-15,9) are 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 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).
Text and translation
II Theos to his (ex-)wife Laodice
I, and her sons Seleucus
(II Callinicus) and Antiochus (Hierax), who in turn donated this land to
Borsippaeans and Cuthaeans".
This land grant was recorded on a tablet dated to SEB 139 (173/2 BCE), which dealt with an official proclamation concerning this land grant made by Nergal-ina-teši-etir, the shatammu of Esagila, which he made on 8 Adar SEB 75 = 21 March 236 BCE in the kinishtu of Esagila. This Nergal-ina-teši-etir is also mentioned in this document (rev. 1).
This tablet is in the Metropolitan
Museum of Art in New York, MMA 86.11.229, and is known as "the
Lehmann Text", because it was first partly published in a note of an article
on a different subject by Lehmann-Haupt (Lehmann 1892, 330, nn. 1+2). A
revised edition was given by Van der Spek (Van der Spek 1986: 241-8); see
for an English translation based on this in: Sherwin-White & Kuhrt
1993: 128f. For a discussion see Van der Spek 1993, passim, esp. 69 and
76. A new edition by Ronald Wallenfels and Bert van der Spek will be published
in one of the next volumes of CTMMA (Cuneiform Tablets from the Metropolitan
Museum of Arts), together with a duplicate of the this text, which
is in the British Museum.
SummaryObverse 2’-5’: This passage will have contained an order to give a tithe to be paid for offerings in the temple.
5’-8’: Reference to the king who designated benefaction to the Babylonians, as written in documents which are in the É.LUGAL bît šarri, the royal office/treasury house. For bît šarri as the administrative office of the crown, see McEwan 1981: 138-9.
8’-13’: Difficult to understand. Perhaps the Babylonians of the kinishtu of Esagila designated sacrificial animals for the satraps of Babylonia, Susiana and two other “lands” to be sacrificed in the temple.
Reverse: The Shatammu possibly makes an assignment of land at the command of the satrap (or some other official) in favor of someone with a Greek name.
All these suggestions must be treated with the
utmost caution. The lacunae are big and understanding the context is very
še.numun.meš šá l[ugal, “the arable land which the k[ing had given ...” may refer to the land grant of Antiochus II Theos
Nergal-(ina-)teši-etir, "Nergal, save from trouble!" We know this shatammu from several other documents, dating from SE 75 to 90 = 236-222/1 BCE. Cf. Van der Spek 2000: 439. It is remarkable that the name is spelled mdU.gur.sùh-sur-ru. In all cases the ina “from” is omitted and remarkably a phonetic complement ru is sometimes added, which is grammatically incorrect. It may be considered further evidence that the vowels at the end of Babylonian words were not pronounced in Late Babylonian.
Bert van der Spek © 2005
Latest revision: 31 March 2006