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Chronicle of early kings (ABC 20)

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Fragment of an Akkadian victory stela. Louvre, Paris (France). Photo Jona Lendering.
Fragment of an Akkadian victory stela (Louvre)
The Chronicle of early kings (ABC 20) is a historiographical text from ancient Babylonia. Although it purports to offer information about the oldest period and the Old-Babylonian empire, it was probably written much later. One anachronism is the reference to Babylon during the reign of king Sargon of Akkad. However, in outline, much information is more or less correct.  The last seven lines of tablet A are identical to the beginning of tablet B, so we can be confident that we have a more or less complete text. Related subject matter can be found in chronicle CM 41.

For a very brief introduction to the literary genre of chronicles, go here. The translation on this webpage was adapted from A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (1975) and Jean-Jacques Glassner, Mesopotamian Chronicles (Atlanta, 2004).

Translation of tablet A

1 Sargon, king of Agade, came to power during the reign of Ištar [1] and
2 he had neither rival not equal. His splendor, over the lands
3 it diffused. He crossed the sea in the east.
4 In the eleventh year he conquered the western land to its farthest point.
5 He brought it under one authority. He set up his statues there
6 and ferried the west's booty across on barges.
7 He stationed his court officials at intervals of five double hours and
8 ruled in unity the tribes of the lands.
9 He marched to Kazallu and turned Kazallu into a ruin heap,
10 so that there was not even a perch for a bird left.
11 Afterwards, in his old age, all of the lands rebelled again and
12 surrounded him in Agade. Sargon went out to fight and brought about their defeat.
13 He overthrew them and overpowered their extensive army.
14 Afterwards, Subartu attacked Sargon in full force and called him to arms.
15 Sargon set an ambush and completely defeated them.
16 He overpowered their extensive army
17 and sent their possessions into Akkad.
18 He dug up the dirt of the pit of Babylon and
19 made a counterpart of Babylon next to Agade.
20 Because the wrong he had done [2] the great lord Marduk became angry and wiped out his family by famine.
21 From east to west[22], the subjects rebelled against him
23 and Marduk afflicted him with insomnia.
24 Naram-Sin,[3] son of Sargon, marched to Apišal.
25 He made a breach in the city wall and Riš-Adad
26 he captured, the king of Apišal, and the vizier of Apišal.
27 He marched to Magan and captured Mannu-dannu, king of Magan.
28 Šulgi,[4] the son of Ur-Nammu, provided abundant food for Eridu, which is on the seashore.
29 But he had criminal tendencies and the property of Esagila and Babylon
30 he took away as booty. BÍl caused caused [...] to consume his body and killed him.
31 Irra-imitti,[5] the king, installed[32] Enlil-bani, the gardener,
32 as substitute king [6] on his throne.
33 He placed the royal tiara on his head.
34 Irra-imitti died in his palace when he sipped a hot soup.
35 Enlil-bani, who occupied the throne, did not give it up and
36 so he was sovereign.
37 Ilu-šumma was king of Assyria at the time of Su-abu.
38 Battles.

Translation of tablet B

1-7 Identical to tablet A 31-36.
8 Hammurabi,[7] king of Babylon, mustered his army and
9 marched against Rim-Sin [I], king of Ur.
10 Hammurabi captured Ur and Larsa and
11 took their property to Babylon.
12 He brought Rim-Sin in a ki-is-kap to Babylon.
13 Samsu-iluna,[8] king of Babylon, son of Hammurabi, the king
14 [...] he mustered and
15 [...] Rim-Sin [II] marched to [...]
16 [...] he captured and
17 [...] in good health in his palace
18 [...] he went and surrounded [...]
19 [...] his people [...]
20 [...]
1' [...]
2' [...] Iluma-ilu [...] 
3' [...] he made [...]
4' he did battle against them [...]
5' their corpses [..] in the sea [...]
6' he repeated and Samsu-iluna [...]
7' Iluma-ilu attacked and brought about the defeat of his army.
8' Abi-ešuh,[9] son of Samsu-iluna, set out to conquer Iluma-ilu.
9' He decided to dam the Tigris.
10' He dammed the Tigris but did not capture Iluma-ilu.
11' At the time of Samsuditana [10] the Hittites marched against Akkad.
12' Ea-gamil,[11] the king of the Sealand, fled to Elam.
13' After he had gone, Ulam-Buriaš, brother of Kaštiliašu, the Kassite,
14' mustered an army and conquered the Sealand. He was master of the land.
15' Agum, the son of Kaštiliašu, mustered his army and
16' marched to the Sealand.
17' He seized Dur-Enlil and
18' destroyed Egalgašešna, Enlil's temple in Dur-Enlil.

Note 1:
According to the Middle chronology, Sargon ruled from 2334 to 2279. His eleventh year would be 2323 BCE. He was the founder of the dynasty of Akkad.

Note 2:
I.e., building a rival to Babylon.

Note 3:
According to the Middle Chronology, Naram-Sin ruled from 2254 to 2218.

Note 4:
According to the Middle Chronology, Šulgi ruled from 2094 to 2047. He was the second king of the Third Dynasty of Ur.

Note 5:
According to the Middle Chronology, Irra-Imitti, king of Isin, ruled from 1868 to 1861. His successor Enlil-bani occupied the throne in 1860-1837. This story is also told in CM 41, tablet B.

Note 6:
Substitute kings were appointed when evil omens predicted the death of a king. Irra-imitti's sin may have been that he stayed in the palace.

Note 7:
According to the Middle Chronology, the Babylonian king Hammurabi ruled from 1792 to 1750. Rim-Sin of Larsa was defeated in 1762, after a reign that had started in 1822 (!).

Note 8:
Samsu-iluna ruled from 1749 to 1712, according to the Middle Chronology.

Note 9:
Abi-ešuh ruled, according to the Middle Chronology, from 1711 to 1696. The story about the damming of the Tigris is also told in CM 41, tablet B. 

Note 10:
Samsu-ditana became king in 1625 (Middle Chronology) and Babylon was sacked in 1595.

Note 11:
Last king of the Sealand Dynasty. Dating is impossible.

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Latest revision: 1 April 2006
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