Samiksha Jaiswal (Editor)

Babylonian Chronicles

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The Babylonian Chronicles are many series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography. The Babylonian Chronicles were written from the reign of Nabonassar up to the Parthian Period, by Babylonian astronomers ("Chaldaeans"), who probably used the Astronomical Diaries as their source.


Almost all of the tablets were identified as chronicles once in the collection of the British Museum, having been acquired via antiquities dealers from unknown excavations in the 19th century. All but three of the chronicles are unprovenanced.

The Chronicles provide the "master narrative" for large tracts of modern Babylonian history.

Discovery and publication

The chronicles are thought to have been written in Babylon during the Achaemenid period, c. 550–400 BCE. They are thought to have been transferred to the British Museum after 19th century excavations in Babylon, and subsequently left undeciphered in the archives for decades. The first chronicle to be published was BM 92502 (ABC1) in 1887 by Theophilus Pinches under the title "The Babylonian Chronicle". This was followed in 1923 by the publication of the Fall of Nineveh Chronicle (ABC 3), in 1924 by Sidney Smith's publication of the Esarhaddon Chronicle (ABC 14), the Akitu Chronicle (ABC 16) and the Nabonidus Chronicle (ABC 7), and in 1956 by Donald Wiseman's publication of four further tablets including the Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle (ABC 5).

Provenanced Chronicles

  • Dynastic Chronicle (ABC 18) (translation) (another version of Column 5)
  • Weidner Chronicle (ABC 19) (translation)
  • Synchronistic History (ABC 21) (one translation and another translation)
  • Unprovenanced Chronicles

  • Chronicle of the Kassite and Isin Dynasties, also known as Walker's Chronicle (called "Chronicle 25", but not available in ABC) (translation)
  • Chronicle of Early Kings (ABC 20) (translation)
  • Chronicle P (ABC 22) (translation and another translation)
  • Chronicle of the Market Prices (ABC 23) (translation)
  • Eclectic Chronicle (ABC 24) (translation)
  • Religious Chronicle (ABC 17) (translation)
  • Nabonassar to Shamash-shum-ukin Chronicle (ABC 1) (translation)
  • Esarhaddon Chronicle (ABC 14) (translation)
  • Shamash-shuma-ukin Chronicle (ABC 15) (translation) (another translation)
  • Akitu Chronicle (ABC 16) (translation)
  • Early Years of Nabopolassar Chronicle (ABC 2) (translation)
  • Fall of Nineveh Chronicle (ABC 3) (translation)
  • Late Reign of Nabopolassar Chronicle (ABC 4) (translation)
  • Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle, also known as Jerusalem Chronicle (ABC 5) (translation)
  • Third year of Neriglissar Chronicle (ABC 6) (translation)
  • Nabonidus Chronicle (ABC 7) (text and translation)
  • Artaxerxes III Chronicle (ABC 9) (translation)
  • Alexander Chronicle (ABC 8 = BCHP 1) (text and translation)
  • Alexander and Arabia Chronicle (BCHP 2) (text and translation)
  • Diadochi Chronicle (ABC 10 = BCHP 3) (text and translation)
  • Arses and Alexander fragment (BCHP 4) (translation)
  • Antiochus and Sin Temple Chronicle (ABC 11 = BCHP 5) (text and translation)
  • Ruin of Esagila Chronicle (BCHP 6) (text and translation)
  • Antiochus, Bactria, and India Chronicle (ABC 13A = BCHP 7) (text and translation)
  • Juniper garden Chronicle (BCHP 8) (text and translation)
  • End of Seleucus I Chronicle (ABC 12 = BCHP 9) (text and translation)
  • Seleucid Accessions Chronicle (ABC 13 = BCHP 10) (text and translation)
  • Invasion of Ptolemy III Chronicle (BCHP 11) (text and translation)
  • Seleucus III Chronicle (ABC 13B = BCHP 12) (text and translation)
  • Politai Chronicle (BCHP 13) (text and translation)
  • Greek Community Chronicle (BCHP 14) (text and translation)
  • Gold Theft Chronicle (BCHP 15) (text and translation)
  • Document on land and tithes (BCHP 16) (text and translation)
  • Judicial Chronicle (BCHP 17) (text and translation)
  • Bagayasha Chronicle (BCHP 18)
  • Chronicle Concerning an Arsacid King (BCHP 19) (text and translation)
  • Euphrates Chronicle (BCHP 20) (text and translation)
  • Literature

  • Leo Oppenheim's translation of the Nabonidus Chronicle can be found in J. B. Pritchard (ed.) Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (= ANET; 1950, 1955, 1969).
  • The standard edition is A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (= ABC; 1975; ISBN 978-1575060491)
  • A translation of Chronicle 25, discovered after the publication of ABC, was published by C.B.F. Walker "Babylonian Chronicle 25: A Chronicle of the Kassite and Isin Dynasties", in G. van Driel e.a. (eds.): Zikir Šumim: Assyriological Studies Presented to F.R. Kraus on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday (= Fs. Kraus; 1982).
  • John Brinkman revises Grayson's reading of ABC 1 in: "The Babylonian Chronicle revisited" in T. Abusch, J. Huehnergard, P. Steinkeller (eds.): Lingering over words. Studies in ancient Near Eastern literature in honor of William L. Moran (1990 Atlanta; ISBN 978-1555405021)
  • Fragments of the chronicles that are relevant to the study of the Bible, can be found in William W. Hallo (ed.), The Context of Scripture, volume 1 (2003 Leiden and Boston; ISBN 978-9004106185). This book also contains the Weidner Chronicle.
  • A recent update of ABC is Jean-Jacques Glassner, Mesopotamian Chronicles (= CM; 2004, ISBN 978-1589830905; French version 1993, ISBN 978-2251339184)
  • An even more recent update of ABC is Amélie Kuhrt, The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources of the Achaemenid Period (Routledge, 2007; ISBN 978-0415552790)
  • The publication of I. Finkel & R. J. van der Spek, Babylonian Chronicles of the Hellenistic Period (= BCHP) has been announced.
  • References

    Babylonian Chronicles Wikipedia