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Seleucus III Chronicle (BCHP 12)

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BCHP 12: The Seleucus III Chronicle, obverse. Photo Bert van der Spek.
BCHP 12: Seleucus III
Chronicle (BM 35421 obv.) (British Museum).**
The Chronicle concerning the reign of Seleucus III Keraunos ("Seleucus III chronicle"; BCHP 12 = ABC 13B) is one of the historiographical texts from ancient Babylonia. It describes how the king supports the New Year's Festival (Akitu) and how the king's brother visits Babylon in 224/223 BCE. For a very brief introduction to the literary genre of chronicles, go here.

The cuneiform tablet (BM 35421) is in the British Museum. On this website, a first 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 edition. This web publication is intended to invite suggestions for better readings, comments and interpretations (go here to contact Van der Spek).

Babylonian Chronicles
Text and translation


BCHP 12: The Seleucus III Chronicle, reverse. Photo Bert van der Spek.
BCHP 12: Seleucus III Chronicle (BM 35421 rev.)

Previous editions

  • Th.G. Pinches, BOR 6 (1892-93), 36 (brief note about the text and a partial translation); 
  • Grayson 1975 (ABC no. 13B), p. 283-4, copy: plate xi; photo’s: plate xxvi; 
  • Van der Spek 1985, p. 557-61 (translation and discussion);
  • Glassner 2004 (CM no. 35): 212-3; 
  • Del Monte 1997 (TBE), p. 203-6.

Description of the tablet

This is a one-column tablet, of which the lower part is preserved, including the left and right edges. It measures 13 cm wide and 5.5 cm long. The bottom edge is not inscribed. The preserved part starts with a few traces of a nearly completely lost section, terminated by a dividing line. After the dividing line a record is given of SE 88, which continued on the reverse. The section ends again with a dividing line, after which is a blank space. Possibly the rest of the tablet was uninscribed, which is very exceptional. The tablet contains many erasures. It may have been quickly written and stored for record jotting.
1' [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] /..\ [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] /..\
2' [.. .. .. ..] /.. .. .. .. ITI .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..\ DI šú [.. .. .. ..] /.. ..\ [.. .. .. .. month .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]his .. (or .. him).
3' [M]U /60\+28.KAM mSi-lu-ku LUGAL ITI BAR ITI BI UD 8.KAM 1+en DUMU E.KI ŠÀ.TAM É.SAG.GÍL [Year] 88, Seleucus (III Keraunos) king, month Nisannu (I). That month, 8th day (7 April 224), a certain Babylonian, the shatammu of Esagila, provided[8’]
4' [..]x –BAR?  šá É.SAG.GÍL ina INIM LUGAL lìb-bu-ú kušši-piš-tum šá LUGAL šá ina IGI-ma iš-šá-a [for the  x] x of Esagila, at the command of the king, in accordance with the parchment letter that the king had sent before,
5' [K]I?? KÙ.BABBAR TA É LUGAL TA É /rama-ni-šú\ 11 GU4.HI.A ma-ru-tu 1.ME UDU.M[EŠ] [wit]h money from the royal treasury from his own estate 11 fat oxen, 100 fat sheep
6' [m]a-ru-tu 11 mušenUZ.TUR ma-ru-tu a-na PAD.dINNIN ina lìb-bi /É\.[S]AG.GÍL (and) 11 fat ducks for the food offering within Esagila,
7' a-na dEN dGAŠAN-ia u DINGIR.MEŠ GAL.MEŠ ù /a\-[n]a dul-/lu\ šámSi-[lu]-ku LU[GAL] for Bêl, Bêltia and the great gods and [f]or the service of ki[ng] Se[leu]cus
8'u A.MEŠ-sú il-ta-kan  HA.LA.MEŠ šá GU4.[MEŠ] u SISKUR.MEŠ MU-a-tim /a-na\ and his sons. The portions of the oxen and the sacrificial animals aforementioned

9' GALA(=UŠ.KU).MEŠ /ù\ ŠÀ.TAM [i]q-bi a-na DI.KUD.MEŠ šá LUGAL u DUMU.DÙ--/i\ he designated /to[8]\ the lamentation-priests and the shatammu. To the judges of the king and the citizens
10' [a-na] /muh-hi\ URU Si-lu-/ki-ia\-a-am ul-te-bil (vacat) [to] Seleucia he sent (it). (vacat)
11'[ITI .. ITI] BI UD 14.KAM mLu MU-šú ŠEŠ šá mSi-lu-ku LUGAL TA [Month ..]. That [month], 14th day, Ly[sias] being his name, the brother of king Seleucus from
12' [URU An-ti-'-k]i-'-a š[á a]na muh-hi ÍD Ma-rat TA ma-dak-tum LUGAL TA /E\-bir ÍD [the city of Antioc]h by the Sea, from the camp of the king, from Transeuphratene,
13' [ana URU Si-lu-ki-'-a UR]U LUGAL-ú-tu šá ana muh-hi ÍD MAŠ.GÚ.GÀR u ÍD LUGAL [to the city of Seleucia, the ci]ty of kingship, on the Tigris and the King's Canal,
14' [.. .. .. .. .. .. GAL].UKKIN KUR u UN.MEŠ KUR a-na IGI-šú UD.DU-ú ni-gu-tu [entered. The ......, the sa]trap of the land and the people of the land went out to meet him and a festival
15' [ina KUR GAR-at] (vacat) [was held in the land.] (vacat)
vacat vacat
to part two (commentary)
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