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Cuneiform tablet with part of the Babylonian Chronicle (616-609 BC)

 

Length: 13.650 cm
Width: 7.140 cm

ME 21901

Room 55: Mesopotamia

    Cuneiform tablet with part of the Babylonian Chronicle (616-609 BC)

    Neo-Babylonian, about 550-400 BC
    From Babylon, southern Iraq

    The fall of Nineveh, capital of the Assyrian Empire

    This tablet is one of a series that summarises the principal events of each year from 747 BC to at least 280 BC. Each entry is separated by a horizontal line and begins with a reference to the year of reign of the king in question.

    In spring 616 BC, the Babylonian King Nabopolassar (625-605 BC) led his army up the Euphrates into Syria (part of the Assyrian Empire). In 614 the Medes from Iran besieged the city of Ashur. The chronicle says that the Babylonian army marched to help the Medes but did not reach the battlefield until after the city had fallen. Nabopolassar met Cyaxares, king of the Medes, and a treaty was drawn up. According to tradition this was confirmed by the marriage of Nebuchadnezzar, Nabopolassar's son, to Cyaxares' granddaughter.

    The text of the Chronicle is broken for the year 612 BC, but the Medes joined the Babylonian forces and laid siege to Nineveh between June and August. Eventually the city fell and was plundered, though some Assyrians escaped westwards. A new Assyrian king, Ashur-uballit II rallied his troops at the city of Harran. The following year the Babylonians plundered the region of Harran. In 610/9 Ashur-uballit and the Egyptians who had come to his aid withdrew west of the Euphrates and Napopolassar sacked Harran. The Assyrians and Egyptians attempted to retake the region, but their siege failed. From this point on the Assyrians and their king disappear from history.

    D.J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldaean kings (London, Trustees of the British Museum, 1956)

    A.K. Grayson, Babylonian and Assyrian chroni (Locust Valley, J.J. Augustin, 1975)