Bust of Alexander the Great, from Delos, now in the Louvre.
Alexander Chronicle (BCHP 1; a.k.a. ABC 8, Chronicle 8) is one
of the historiographical texts from ancient Babylonia.
It deals with events from the reigns of the Persian king Darius
III Codomannus and his Macedonian
The cuneiform tablet (BM 36304) is in the
British Museum and was first published by A.K. Grayson in 1975 in a book
called Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles. On this website, a new
reading is proposed by Bert van der Spek of the Free University of Amsterdam
(Netherlands). The official publication can be found in Achaemenid History
(2003). An alternative reading, not by Van der Spek, is proposed
BCHP 1: Alexander chronicle (reverse; **)
The reverse is even more difficult to date. There are hardly clues. There
is not any indication of the death of a king, so I assume, in view of the
fact that not a big part of the lower part of the tablet was lost, that
we are still in the reign of Alexander.
The best clue for a date is the reference to a man named Alpulus[su
..], which could be a clumsy rendering of Harpalus. Grayson read here a
name (mdNabû-bu-ul-li-[...]), but the reading Al-pu-ul-us-[...]
must be considered certain. If indeed Harpalus is concerned, then line
9’ belongs to ultimately February 324 BCE, when Harpalus fled from Babylon
(cf. Badian 1961). Another candidate for this name is (a hypocoristic of)
Apollodorus of Amphipolis
who was appointed strategos next to Mazaeus
Anabasis 3.16.4) and who was still in function
in 323 BCE, when Alexander returned to Babylon (Arrian, Anabasis
Reference to an execution and an appointment may refer to the purge
of satraps Alexander carried out in December 325 (Bosworth 1988, 240; Badian
1961, 16-18). In March 324 he arrived in Susa
and executed the satrap Abulites. However, it is sobering to note that
on the obverse the execution of a certain Kidinnu is mentioned, whom we
never should have known, if his name would have been lost in a break.
The reference to a person named Pitanu seems promising. With a little
fantasy we may detect the name Peithon here, but which Peithon this could
have been and which troops for what he assembled is difficult to guess.
But doubts are in order. The vertical wedge before the name, which I interpreted
as a Personenkeil
may also be part of a larger sign of which traces exist, e.g. Susa.
If a Peithon is concerned then Peithon
the son of Crateuas seems to be the best candidate (Berve 1926 #621).
He was in Babylon with Alexander at the time of the latter's death. What
he did at this period is unknown, except that he slept in the temple of
Serapis in order to find out what was the god's will in the illness of
Alexander (Arrian, Anabasis 7.25.2) [note
3]. After Alexander's death he became satrap of Media
and was appointed by
with the task of subduing the revolt of the Greek colonists in Bactria.
The mustering of troops for the expedition against the rebellious Greeks
in Bactria may be at issue. If so, the reverse of the tablet describes
events after the death of Alexander, but then a reference to "the king",
who gives orders in line 11' is odd, there being no kings who could give
Note: perhaps we must read
[I]s-pi-ta-nu, which may be a rendering of Spitama (Spitamenes?).
However, if this name were really spelled like this, it would have been
pronounced Ispita'u, which makes it almost impossible to accept
this tantalizing suggestion.
UD.KIB.NUN.KI can either be Euphrates
or Sippar and A.MEŠ can mean "sons" as well as "water", which makes the
sentence very difficult to understand.
Grayson read mim-ma ana aš-ri dX, "and whatever for
the emplacement of god X", which is also possible. After study of the Judicial
Chronicle (BCHP 17), we suppose the correct reading is mim-ma ana
aš-ri DINGIR /ú\ [-tú .. ..], "The valuables
which belong to the territory of the godhead".
As argued above these lines may refer to activities of Harpalus or
Apollodorus. Harpalus was a treasurer of the financial satrapies based
at Babylon (tôn en Babulôni thesaurôn kaì tôn
prosódôn tèn phulakèn pepisteuménos,
Diodorus, Library, 17.108.9). He lived in a regal style in the royal palace and spent a lot
of money. Lines 7’-10’ may then refer to his requisitions. Especially lines
9’-10’ report an event which shows remarkable similarity to the transaction
recorded by BM 79001, dated to the fourth year of Antigonus
Monophthalmus (314 BCE) in which 3 minas of silver in staters of Alexander
"was disbursed from the property of Bêl
on the orders of the Greek Ka-li-nu-uk-su (Kallinikos?), the
who is in charge of the treasury, for food for the Greek
(Dorokteides??)" (Stolper 1993, 82-86). This Kallinikos may well
be a later successor to Harpalus.
The cuneiform sign TAR can represent both parâsu and nakâsu,
"to cut off".
umarri: This word seems to be a verb derived the D-stem of arû
(cf. CAD A II, 317 s.v. arû C), "to cut branches".
This is, in this context not very likely. The signs may also be part of
a personal name if the last vertical wedge of the suggested s]u
were a Personenkeil,
or if a name ...s]umarri were at issue. The phrase "his camp
he pitched" may refer to Alexander's encamping of the army at
(August 324; Arrian, Anabasis 7.12.3).
The gentilicium "Macedonian" (Makkadunaia) is used for Seleucus
I in the building inscription of Antiochus I (Kuhrt/Sherwin-White 1991,
75, I:5). The context of the word here is completely lost.
The name Makkadunu (Macedonia)
occurs in two chronicles: