BCHP 16 (Document on Land and Tithes)

The Document concerning a Tithe of Arable Land and Šatammu Nergal-ina-teši-etir is a historiographical document written in ancient Babylonia in the Hellenistic Period.

BCHP 16 Document on Land and Tithes, Obverse

The Document concerning a Tithe of Arable Land and Šatammu Nergal-ina-teši-etir is one of the Mesopotamian historiographical documents written in ancient Babylonia in the Hellenistic Period. The cuneiform tablets (BM 33020 = 78-10-15,1 + BM 33028 = 78-10-15,9) are in the British Museum and can be dated to 75-90 SE (or 236-222 BCE); the document therefore belongs to the reigns of the Seleucid kings Seleucus II Callinicus, Seleucus III Keraunos, and Antiochus III the Great.

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).

Description of the tablet

The tablet consists of two pieces, joined by Irving Finkel. It is the lower left side of a tablet, of which at least half is lost, probably more. The height of the tablet is 6.5 cm; the length of line 13’ is 7 cm. The bottom line of the obverse and the first line of the reverse are nearly completely preserved. The lower edge is uninscribed. The lower edge is 2 cm thick, the upper edge 2.5 cm.


BCHP 16 Document on Land and Tithes, Reverse

This tablet is probably not a chronicle, but an official document relating to a land grant, possibly the assignment by Antiochus II Theos to his (ex-)wife Laodice I, and her sons Seleucus II Callinicus and Antiochus (Hierax), who in turn donated this land to "the Babylonians, Borsippaeans, and Cuthaeans".

This land grant was recorded on a tablet dated to SEB 139 (173/2 BCE), which dealt with an official proclamation concerning this land grant made by Nergal-ina-teši-etir, the šatammu of Esagila, which he made on 8 Adar SEB 75 = 21 March 236 BCE in the kinishtu of Esagila. This Nergal-ina-teši-etir is also mentioned in this document (rev. 1). This tablet is in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York,note and is known as "the Lehmann Text", because it was first partly published in a note of an article on a different subject by Lehmann-Haupt.note A revised edition was published by Van der Spek;note a newer edition will be published by Ronald Wallenfels and Bert van der Spek in one of the next volumes of Cuneiform Tablets from the Metropolitan Museum of Arts, together with a duplicate of the this text, which is in the British Museum.


Obverse 2’-5’: This passage will have contained an order to give a tithe to be paid for offerings in the temple.

5’-8’: Reference to the king who designated benefaction to the Babylonians, as written in documents which are in the É.LUGAL bît šarri, the royal office/treasury house. For bît šarri as the administrative office of the crown, see McEwan 1981: 138-9.

8’-13’: Difficult to understand. Perhaps the Babylonians of the kinishtu of Esagila designated sacrificial animals for the satraps of Babylonia, Susiana and two other “lands” to be sacrificed in the temple.

Reverse: The šatammu possibly makes an assignment of land at the command of the satrap (or some other official) in favor of someone with a Greek name.


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

[Obv.2'] the arable land which the k[ing?had given .....]

[Obv.3'] and a tithe of the arable [land for the] regular4’ [offerings]

[Obv.4'] and food of[ferings  .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Obv.5'] may they give. The king x[ .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Obv.6'] aforementioned and whatever [.. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Obv.7'] in the documents of the [treasury?] house [.. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Obv.8'] he designated and the Bab[ylonians.. .. .. .. .. for]

[Obv.9'] the philos?? of the king, cattle [for the satraps of]

[Obv.10'] of the land Akkad, the land Susi[ana .. .. ..] /..\ [..]

[Obv.11'] the land Zibbatum?, the land Rap?-x[.. for the x offerings]

[Obv.12'] and the regular offerings [of] the temples and [the ...] 

[Obv.13'] of the temples aforementioned /apportioned???.\


[Rev.1'] That [d]ay Nergal-(ina-)teši-etir

[Rev.2'] [the ša]tammu of Esagila [to] Theomel[es? ..]

[Rev.3'] who in accordance with [a letter of] the sat[rap]

[Rev.4'] which Timocra[tes had brought, had received a tract of land]

[Rev.5'] adjacent to the Sealand? [.. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Rev.6'] instead of the [...] estate? [.. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Rev.7'] between the river [ .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Rev.8'] aforementioned with x [.. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Rev.9'] the commissioner and the jud[ges ? .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Rev.10'] aforementioned fr[om .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Rev.11'] and regular offerings [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Rev.12'] which in ma? [.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. ..]

[Remainder lost.]