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12478RE: [ANE-2] FW: eNews: The World of Achaemenid Persia: History, Art and Society in Iran and the Ancient Near East

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  • Lisbeth S. Fried
    May 17, 2010
      Dear Rolf,

      There is a problem in the chronologies at least with the references to
      accession year dates, because the way of accounting these years differed
      between the Babylonians and the Persians. Therefore, there will be
      differences between the Babylonian tablets and the Persepolis tablets.

      Basically the Persians did not count accession years. The regnal year began
      whenever the king ascended the throne, they did not wait until Nisan to
      begin counting the years. This explains the dates in Neh 1 and 2 and many
      other apparent anomalies, and may also help explain the contradictions you
      find. For a discussion of the problem see the article by Leo Depuydt,
      Evidence for Accession Dating under the Achaemenids, JAOS 115 (1995):



      Lisbeth S. Fried, Ph.D.

      Department of Near Eastern Studies

      and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies

      University of Michigan

      202 S. Thayer -- Room 4111

      Ann Arbor, MI 48104

      www.lizfried.com <http://www.lizfried.com/>


      From: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com [mailto:ANE-2@yahoogroups.com] On Behalf Of Rolf
      Sent: Saturday, May 15, 2010 7:27 AM
      To: ANE-2@yahoogroups.com
      Subject: Re: [ANE-2] FW: eNews: The World of Achaemenid Persia: History, Art
      and Society in Iran and the Ancient Near East

      Dear Lis,

      Thank you for the reference: I will read the book with great interest.

      In the presentation it is said:

      >The publication of the book is an event in itself, a watershed not only
      >because it introduces a better appreciation and understanding of the rich
      >and complex cultural heritage established by Cyrus, but also because of the
      >lasting significance of the Achaemenid kings and the impact that their
      >remarkable civilisation has had on greater Persian and Middle Eastern

      I am sure that this is true, but I would also like to raise an issue
      that in my view is very important. A scholar at the University of
      Oslo studied the applications for Ph.D programs and which subjects
      that were accepted. His conclusion was that only those programs that
      accorded with the views of the professors at the university were
      accepted as worthy for the Pd.D degree. Those that tried to break new
      ground were rejected. I have received some signals indicating that
      the situation my be similar at universities in other countries as

      A problem I have seen in Achaemenid, Neo-Babylonian, and
      Neo-Assyrian studies, where I myself am working, is that the
      traditional axioms and assumptions are never tested, and few attempts
      to have been made to deal with the material that contradicts what is
      universally accepted.

      Today we can look at dated tablets on-line. I have looked at all the
      dated tablets from the Achaemenid and Neo-Babylonian empires at the
      British Museum collection database and at the on-line database at the
      Vorderasiatische Museum, as well as published tablets from other
      institutions. And the results are very interesting. So many "new"
      dates have appeared that Ptolemy's chronology is completely
      punctured! I will give two examples, but first I state my
      assumptions; 1) the system of accession years is valid for the
      Achaemenid Empire, 2) two different kings could not be listed as
      rulers in the same city in the same month and the same year, and 3)
      the dates of the tablets should be taken at face value.

      The universal view is that Cambyses died at the beginning of his 8th
      year (522 B.C.E.), that Bardiya, and Nebuchadnezzar III reigned a
      short time during the same year, and that Darius I started to reign
      at the end of the same year (see Parker and Dubbertein). Several
      dated tablets show that Cambyses reigned until month XII of his 8th
      year, and possibly into his 9th year, according to Strm Cambys 400. I
      have compared the dates of the tablets and the cities in which they
      are dated of year 8 of Cambyses, of the accession year and year 1 of
      Bardiya, of the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar III, of year 1 of
      Nebuchadnezzar IV, and the accession year and year 1 and 2 of Darius
      I, and there ought to be at least 2 or 3 years to be added between
      year 8 of Cambyses and year 1 of Darius I, provided that we accept
      what the tablets say.

      Because the chronology of Ptolemy, which was the basis of Parker and
      Dubberstein, is tied up with 18 year cycles of lunar eclipses and 19
      year periods of intercalary months, just one extra year will destroy
      the whole chronology. On the basis of the domino principle, if one
      intercalary period (connected with a particular king) is wrong, all
      the intercalary periods are wrong. In order to avoid this, so many ad
      hoc arguments have appeared throughout the years as explanations of
      anomalous dates. But in my view it is now time to take a really
      critical look at the traditional chronology.

      My second example relates to the Persepolis tablets. I have compared
      all the names of the officials on the Treasury tablets with the names
      of the officials of the more than 2,000 Fortification tablets. And a
      very strong case can be made in favor of applying the tablets with
      the seals "year 19, Xerxes," "year 19, Darius," year 20, Xerxes," and
      "year 20, Darius) to years 19 and 20 of Darius I, and not to years 19
      and 20 of Xerxes, as was Cameron's application. This will also have
      great implications for the chronology.

      Best regards,

      Rolf Furuli Ph.D
      University of Oslo

      >Lisbeth S. Fried, Ph.D.
      >Department of Near Eastern Studies
      >and the Frankel Center for Judaic Studies
      >University of Michigan
      >202 S. Thayer -- Room 4111
      >Ann Arbor, MI 48104
      >www.lizfried.com <http://www.lizfried.com/>
      >THE WORLD OF ACHAEMENID PERSIA: History, Art and Society in Iran and the
      >Ancient Near East
      >Book Launch
      >April 2010
      >A sustained and comprehensive overview of the field of Achaemenid studies
      >leading scholars and experts.
      >Edited by
      >Dr John Curtis OBE and Dr St. John Simpson.

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
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