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Babylonian chronicle 10: Part 2: the Babylonian war


BCHP 3, the Chronicle of the Diadochi, reverse. Photo Bert van der Spek.
Chronicle of the Diadochi,
reverse. **
The following text, the second part of a cuneiform text known as known as Diadochi Chronicle, offers a Babylonia perspective on the wars between the death of Perdiccas in 320 and the defeat of Antigonus Monophthalmus near Babylon in 308. The second half deals with the Babylonian war.

This website contains the reading by Bert van der Spek of the Amsterdam Free University. A more scholarly edition can be found here.

Column I; Columns II and III are lost.

Reverse, column IV

[Year 7 of Antigonus, the General (311/10) .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] 
2 [the ea]st [bank] and the west bank [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..Month I/II]
3 [Seleu]cus spoke as follows: “Year 7 of Antigonus the general you will from now on count as year 6 of Alexander, son of
4 Alexander [1] and Seleucus the general.” Month Simanu (31 May – 29 June 311) .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
5 Seleucus [.. .. ..]ed the šatammu of Emeslam[.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
6 He did not capture the palace. That month, 30 talents of silver, which [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
7 Month Âbu (29 July – 27 Aug.). Seleucus, in order to capture the palace, to [X went, the defenses with water like a deluge]
8 he levelled and he did not dam the Euphrates. [To x he left. Patrocles as general]
9 within it he entrusted. Month Ulûlu (28 Aug. – 25 Sep.), Seleucus from Babylon to [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
10 which is on the Tigris, went up. [2] In order to make a sortie to Pers[is he crossed the river and he .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
11 In the month Arahsamna (26 Oct. – 24 Nov. 311) there was goodwill and .. .. in respect to the enemies[.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] 
12 The troops of the land of Gutium and the troops of the king [showed] gr[atitude to the satrap of Akkad.]
13 That year, debris of Esagila [was] n[ot removed]. [3]

14 Year 7 of Alexander, the king, son of Alexander and [Seleucus, the general (310/9). Month Âbu (17 Aug. – 15 Sep. 310). The troops of]
15 Antigonus [did] battle with the troops of Se[leucus .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] [4
16 From the month Âbu (17 Aug. – 15 Sep. 310) until the month Tebêtu (12 Jan. – 10 Feb. 309) [in the surrounding area of Babylon]
17 they did battle with each other . [In the month Tebêtu, on the 8th day]
18 Unintelligible
19 [.. .. .. .. Ant]igonus broke in (sg) and to x [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
20 [.. .. ..] between Esagil and Etur[kalamma .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
21 [.. .. An]tigonus with numerous troops [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
22 with him entered. From the 8th day of the month Tebêtu (19 Jan. 309) [Antigonus attacked, but]
23 he did not capture the [.. .. of] the Bit harê. In the month Šabatu (30 Jan. – 28 Feb. 309), day [n, he .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. That month] 
24 there was weeping and mourning in the land. The south wind [blew .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..  Antigonus]
25 from Babylon went out. He plundered city and countryside. The property [of  .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. he took away. Addaru]
26 day 2 (2 March 309), he went down to Cuthah and he plundered [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
27 the people retreated. [He set] fire to the storehouse of Nergal. [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
28 Archelaos [he appointed] to the office of satrap [of Akkad; .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
29 [in the surrounding a]rea of Babylon he entrusted him. That same year, barley: 6 litres; dates [n litres …. …. . Barley and dates]; [5]
30 they requisitioned illegally. That year, numerous houses in the district [of …… were destroyed. The property of .....]
31 from Babylon they took out. Debris of Esagil [was not removed].

32 Year 8 of Alexander, the king, son of Alexander, and Seleucus the General (309/8). [Month ?, day n]
33 the satrap of Akkad went to Borsippa and barley: 6 litres, [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] 
34 [.. .. .. ..] of the neighborhood of Borsippa and within the la[nd  .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..  A certain Babylonian]
35 [to the office of shatammu] of Esagil he entrusted. Day 12, 13, 14 [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..  Babylonians]
36 [.. .. .. ..] they assembled. The Babylonians aforementioned [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
37 [.. .. .. .. .. en]tered (pl.). There was weeping and mourning in the land. [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] 
38 [...] and he plundered city and countryside. [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
39 [.. .. .. .. .. ..] the Babylonians, half of th[em .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
40 [.. .. .. .. .. ..]-la, who in the first year of A[lexander .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
41 [.. .. .. .. .. .. ..] the king, to the Babylonian[s .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
Left edge
1 [(max. 24 signs) A]rchelaos and the troops of Antigonus to [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]
2 [ca. 12 signs)] Month Âbu, day 25 (= 10 Aug. 309) [……. did] battle with the troops of Seleucus [(……)]
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Coin of Seleucus, struck 310 BCE in Babylon. British Museum, London (Britain). Photo Marco Prins.
Coin of Seleucus minted in 310 in Babylon (British Museum)
Note1:
Alexander IV was the son of Alexander the Great. His mother was Roxane, his regent was Cassander. At the beginning of this year, the boy king was eleven years old. This line means that Seleucus ordered the scribes of Babylon to date letters and other texts to the regnal years of Alexander IV and Seleucus, as supreme commander; they were no longer to date to Alexander and Antigonus. This is a complex way of saying that Seleucus had seized power, although he was unable to capture the palace immediately.

Note 2:
Seleucus had recovered Babylon in May 311 and was attacked by the satrap of Media, Nicanor; however, Nicanor was defeated near the Tigris.

Note 3:
The Esagila, the temple of the Babylonian supreme god Marduk, was very old, and Alexander the Great had promised to rebuild it (details). Seleucus continued the project

Note 4:
What now follows is the war between Antigonus and Seleucus. It seems that Antigonus captured the city, but was expelled by Seleucus. The text leaves one with the impression that Antigonus looted temples; this is more or less confirmed by the Astronomical diaries, which mention "panic in the land" and "battle in the city". Antigonus also looted the temples and this was the reason why the Babylonians sided with Seleucus, who had, after all, restored temples and treated the Babylonians kindly.

Note 5:
Barley: 6 liters means: one could buy 6 litres barley for one shekel. That is very expensive. The "ideal" price was 180 liters for a shekel. So 6 liters only is a very high price indeed, and these high prices are also recorded in the Astronomical diaries of this period. Alexander and the early Successors did not bring the blessings of hellenism, but war, plunder, devastations, inflation, and the use of torture in court interrogations.

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