BCHP 12 (Seleucus III Chronicle)

The Chronicle concerning the reign of Seleucus III Keraunos ("Seleucus III chronicle"; BCHP 12 = ABC 13B) is one of the Mesopotamian chronicles written in ancient Babylonia in the Hellenistic Period.

Seleucus III Chronicle, Obverse

The Chronicle concerning the reign of Seleucus III Keraunos ("Seleucus III chronicle"; BCHP 12 = ABC 13B) is one of the Mesopotamian chronicles written in ancient Babylonia in the Hellenistic Period. The cuneiform tablet (BM 35421) is in the British Museum.

On this webpage, a new reading is proposed; the official publication will be in I.L. Finkel,  R.J. van der Spek, R. Pirngruber, Babylonian Chronographic Texts from the Hellenistic Period (2020; = BCHP; Writings of the Ancient World).

Previous editions

Description of the tablet

Seleucus III Chronicle, Reverse

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.

Commentary

Seleucus III Keraunos

This again is a chronicle concerning a short period, possibly the reign of Seleucus III Keraunos (or Soter). This would mean that on the obverse starts with SE 86. If so, this chronicle overlaps the Seleucid Accessions Chronicle (BCHP 10). That is not much of a problem. BCHP 10 is a kind of eclectic chronicle with notes from different reigns, separated by several years. This chronicle seems to be an example of a chronicle concerning a brief period of time, later to be used for chronicles of longer periods. In view of the gaps on the reverse, one could see this tablet as a preliminary document, perhaps hastily written.

The content of the chronicles shows parallels with the Judicial Chronicle (BCHP 17). It seems as though the shatammu had been accused of corruption. The king had paid money to him for oxen, sheep and ducks from the shatammu's estate to be used for the offerings of the Akitu (New Year) festival and the royal cult. Afterwards the shatammu had designated portions of the leftovers of the offerings for the lamentation singers and for himself. To defend himself he sent it to the judges and a court of free citizens (mâr banî) in Seleucia.

One might surmise that the visit of the brother of the king was organized to inspect the matter and to see to it that money of the royal treasury was not misused. In that case the chronicle would indeed be a judicial chronicle, just like BCHP 17.


Obverse

[Obv.1'] [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..] /..\

[Obv.2'] [.. .. .. ..] /.. ..\ [.. .. .. .. month .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]his .. (or .. him).

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[Obv.3'] [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’]

[Obv.4'] [for the  x] x of Esagila, at the command of the king, in accordance with the parchment letter that the king had sent before,

[Obv.5'] [wit]h money from the royal treasury from his own estate 11 fat oxen, 100 fat sheep

[Obv.6'] (and) 11 fat ducks for the food offering within Esagila,

[Obv.7'] for Bêl, Bêltia and the great gods and [f]or the service of ki[ng] Se[leu]cus

[Obv.8'] and his sons. The portions of the oxen and the sacrificial animals aforementioned

Reverse

[Rev.9'] he designated /to[8]\ the lamentation-priests and the shatammu. To the judges of the king and the citizens

[Rev.10'] [to] Seleucia he sent (it). (vacat)

[Rev.11'] [Month ..]. That [month], 14th day, Ly[sias] being his name, the brother of king Seleucus from

[Rev.12'] [the city of Antioc]h by the Sea, from the camp of the king, from Transeuphratene,

[Rev.13'] [to the city of Seleucia, the ci]ty of kingship, on the Tigris and the King's Canal,

[Rev.14'] [entered. The ......, the sa]trap of the land and the people of the land went out to meet him and a festival

[Rev.15'] [was held in the land.] (vacat)

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[Rev.16'] (vacat)