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Re: [Iranica-L] and [Seleukids]: An Interesting date-line

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  • G.R.F. Assar
    Dear Friends, There is an interesting date-formula in a planetary text published by Professor Herman Hunger in Volume 5 of the Astronomical Diaries and Related
    Message 1 of 2 , Apr 10, 2008
      Dear Friends,

      There is an interesting date-formula in a planetary text published by Professor Herman Hunger in Volume 5 of the Astronomical Diaries and Related Texts from Babylonia - Lunar and Planetary Texts (2001). Entry No. 53 is supposed to have recorded, for several centuries, the appearance (in the zodiacal signs) of Mercury while, according to A. Sachs, the reverse of the tablet was assigned to Venus (the latter is proved not to be the case).

      Although most of the obverse text is poorly preserved, we have, according to Professor Hunger, the following in line 26:

      26: IGI KUR (x x) [space] MU 1 An (BAR?) [x]
      26: it was bright, ... [space] Year 1 Antiochus(?), month I(?) [....]

      Unfortunately, the royal name is abbreviated as "An", but this can represent either Antigonus or Antiochus, since the name of no other king in Babylon during 6th-1st centuries BC began with "An". However, the question of whether we have Antigonus or Antiochus cannot be immediately answered because of the state of the fragment. In fact, it would be quite odd to have "Year 1 Antiochus" since we are told that following his accession, Antiochus I abandoned dating by regnal years. In any case, we have, so far had nothing from the reign of Antiochus I dated to one of his regnal years.

      Could "Year 1 An" correspond to year 1 of Antigonus Monophthalmos?

      According to a lunar text published in the same volume (No. 2), the death of Philip III was recorded in Babylon on the 27th day of month IX (of Philip's year 7). This means that following the earlier practice whereby Philip's year 1 began on 1 Simanu (month III) immediately after the death of Alexander III on 29 Ayyaru (month II), year 14 of Alexander, year 1 of Antigonus should have started on 28th of month IX (year 7 of Philip), leading to a very short "Year 1", no more than 3 months and a couple of days long. It is not surprising that the "colophon" of this particular tablet (No. 2) is dated to "Year 2 of Antigonus", strongly implying that it was completed in the second year of Antigonus a few months after the death of Philip III. Therefore, the above date-line "Year 1 An" could be that of Antigonus, corresponding to the period 28.IX.7 of Philip to the end of XII.7 of Philip.

      There would have been no objections to this interpretation (barring any astronomical disagreement) had the previous year not finished (apparently) with an intercalary Addaru (in line 25 of the Planetary Text 53 quoted above). Unfortunately, the cuneiform signs at this point are badly mutilated and the reading .... DI[R-$]E = intercalary Addaru in line 26 is somewhat doubtful. However, it seems no other reading is possible except $E (Addaru) or DIR-$E (second Addaru), because months X and XI seem to have been recorded in the previous lines. Since traces of DIR are still visible and that the cuneiform sign for $E would have required a much smaller space than is allocated on the tablet to the month-name, DIR-$E is most likely.

      If DIR-$E is confirmed (and I have written to Professor Hunger on this and a couple of other astronomical points), then it immediately precludes Antigonus Monophthalmos, since neither year 7 nor year 6 of Philip III was intercalary (his year 8 had a second Addaru). This then means that "An" should be taken as an abbreviation of "Antiochus". But which one of the 5 Antiochoi before Babylonia fell to the Parthians in 141 BC?

      Fortunately, we have the accession years of all of them as follows:

      (a)- Antiochus I: acceded in 31 SEB which was intercalary, with a second Addaru.
      (b)- Antiochus II: acceded in 51 SEB which was normal, but year 50 SEB had a second Addaru.
      (c)- Antiochus III: acceded in 90 SEB which was normal, so was 89 SEB.
      (d)- Antiochus IV: acceded in 137 SEB which was intercalary, with a second Addaru, but 136 SEB was normal.
      (e)- Antiochus V: acceded in 148 SEB which was intercalary with a second Addaru, but 147 SEB was normal.

      Judging from the above list, the only possibility appears to be Antiochus II who acceded in 51 SEB with the previous year, 50 SEB, being intercalary. Unless, of course, "Year 1 An" begins with the first full year of Antiochus I in office in 32 SEB. This would then agree with the second Addaru in 31 SEB.

      Anyway, I'll let you know, as soon as I hear from Professor Hunger, which one of the above possibilities agrees with the fragmentary text in lines 16-28 of this particular planetary record (No 53). We would then be able to decide whether we have a reference to year 1 of Antigonus Monophthalmos, Antiochus I or Antiochus II. If Antigonus is eliminated, then the reference to regnal year 1 of either Antiochus I or II would be quite interesting (after being told that ear-dating began with the reign of Antiochus I).

      All the best,
      Farhad Assar
      ====================

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • Ronald Wallenfels, Ph.D.
      Dear Farhad, To strengthen the possibility that the An in question is in fact Antiochus II, please note that in the sexagesimal place notational system
      Message 2 of 2 , Apr 10, 2008
        Dear Farhad,

        To strengthen the possibility that the An in question is in fact
        Antiochus II, please note that in the sexagesimal place notational
        system employed by the astronomical scribes the numeral 1 (written with
        the DI$ sign) [$ = "sh"] is formally identical to the numeral for 60.
        Year 60 of course falls solidly within the reign of Antiochus II. In
        contemporary archival documents the scribes differentiated 1 from 60,
        when the latter was intended, by the addition of a $u sign, a phonetic
        complement (1 = Akk. i$tenu; 60 = Akk. $u$u), but such phonetic
        complements are certainly not required and this particular astronomical
        scribe, writing in an obviously laconic style, may have thought it
        "obvious" that 60 and not 1 was intended. As for An = Antigonus,
        although my files are probably not exhaustive on this point,
        nonetheless, I can't recall a single case of such a writing.

        Yours,

        Ron Wallenfels.

        G.R.F. Assar wrote:

        > Dear Friends,
        >
        > There is an interesting date-formula in a planetary text published by
        > Professor Herman Hunger in Volume 5 of the Astronomical Diaries and
        > Related Texts from Babylonia - Lunar and Planetary Texts (2001). Entry
        > No. 53 is supposed to have recorded, for several centuries, the
        > appearance (in the zodiacal signs) of Mercury while, according to A.
        > Sachs, the reverse of the tablet was assigned to Venus (the latter is
        > proved not to be the case).
        >
        > Although most of the obverse text is poorly preserved, we have,
        > according to Professor Hunger, the following in line 26:
        >
        > 26: IGI KUR (x x) [space] MU 1 An (BAR?) [x]
        > 26: it was bright, ... [space] Year 1 Antiochus(?), month I(?) [....]
        >
        > Unfortunately, the royal name is abbreviated as "An", but this can
        > represent either Antigonus or Antiochus, since the name of no other
        > king in Babylon during 6th-1st centuries BC began with "An". However,
        > the question of whether we have Antigonus or Antiochus cannot be
        > immediately answered because of the state of the fragment. In fact, it
        > would be quite odd to have "Year 1 Antiochus" since we are told that
        > following his accession, Antiochus I abandoned dating by regnal years.
        > In any case, we have, so far had nothing from the reign of Antiochus I
        > dated to one of his regnal years.
        >
        > Could "Year 1 An" correspond to year 1 of Antigonus Monophthalmos?
        >
        > According to a lunar text published in the same volume (No. 2), the
        > death of Philip III was recorded in Babylon on the 27th day of month
        > IX (of Philip's year 7). This means that following the earlier
        > practice whereby Philip's year 1 began on 1 Simanu (month III)
        > immediately after the death of Alexander III on 29 Ayyaru (month II),
        > year 14 of Alexander, year 1 of Antigonus should have started on 28th
        > of month IX (year 7 of Philip), leading to a very short "Year 1", no
        > more than 3 months and a couple of days long. It is not surprising
        > that the "colophon" of this particular tablet (No. 2) is dated to
        > "Year 2 of Antigonus", strongly implying that it was completed in the
        > second year of Antigonus a few months after the death of Philip III.
        > Therefore, the above date-line "Year 1 An" could be that of Antigonus,
        > corresponding to the period 28.IX.7 of Philip to the end of XII.7 of
        > Philip.
        >
        > There would have been no objections to this interpretation (barring
        > any astronomical disagreement) had the previous year not finished
        > (apparently) with an intercalary Addaru (in line 25 of the Planetary
        > Text 53 quoted above). Unfortunately, the cuneiform signs at this
        > point are badly mutilated and the reading .... DI[R-$]E = intercalary
        > Addaru in line 26 is somewhat doubtful. However, it seems no other
        > reading is possible except $E (Addaru) or DIR-$E (second Addaru),
        > because months X and XI seem to have been recorded in the previous
        > lines. Since traces of DIR are still visible and that the cuneiform
        > sign for $E would have required a much smaller space than is allocated
        > on the tablet to the month-name, DIR-$E is most likely.
        >
        > If DIR-$E is confirmed (and I have written to Professor Hunger on this
        > and a couple of other astronomical points), then it immediately
        > precludes Antigonus Monophthalmos, since neither year 7 nor year 6 of
        > Philip III was intercalary (his year 8 had a second Addaru). This then
        > means that "An" should be taken as an abbreviation of "Antiochus". But
        > which one of the 5 Antiochoi before Babylonia fell to the Parthians in
        > 141 BC?
        >
        > Fortunately, we have the accession years of all of them as follows:
        >
        > (a)- Antiochus I: acceded in 31 SEB which was intercalary, with a
        > second Addaru.
        > (b)- Antiochus II: acceded in 51 SEB which was normal, but year 50 SEB
        > had a second Addaru.
        > (c)- Antiochus III: acceded in 90 SEB which was normal, so was 89 SEB.
        > (d)- Antiochus IV: acceded in 137 SEB which was intercalary, with a
        > second Addaru, but 136 SEB was normal.
        > (e)- Antiochus V: acceded in 148 SEB which was intercalary with a
        > second Addaru, but 147 SEB was normal.
        >
        > Judging from the above list, the only possibility appears to be
        > Antiochus II who acceded in 51 SEB with the previous year, 50 SEB,
        > being intercalary. Unless, of course, "Year 1 An" begins with the
        > first full year of Antiochus I in office in 32 SEB. This would then
        > agree with the second Addaru in 31 SEB.
        >
        > Anyway, I'll let you know, as soon as I hear from Professor Hunger,
        > which one of the above possibilities agrees with the fragmentary text
        > in lines 16-28 of this particular planetary record (No 53). We would
        > then be able to decide whether we have a reference to year 1 of
        > Antigonus Monophthalmos, Antiochus I or Antiochus II. If Antigonus is
        > eliminated, then the reference to regnal year 1 of either Antiochus I
        > or II would be quite interesting (after being told that ear-dating
        > began with the reign of Antiochus I).
        >
        > All the best,
        > Farhad Assar
        > ====================
        >
        > [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
        >
        >
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