Cuneiform sources for the history of Hellenistic Babylonia. Edition and Analysis
09 / 2003 - 08 / 2004
Nederlandse Organisatie voor Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek (NWO)
During the last decades the research into the history of the Hellenistic period has received new incentives. It may be argued that a new paradigm is taking ground in that a Greek vantage point is being replaced by a perspective which takes the indigenous cultures of Western Asia into account. This new approach is fostered by a growing interest into non-Greek written sources, which in growing numbers come to light in the form of cuneiform documents from Babylonia. These sources are of the greatest interest for classicists and (economic) historians, but are hardly accessible for non-assyriologists. It is my purpose to edit two very important data sets. The first is an edition in table form of all quotations of prices of barley, dates, mustard, cress, sesame and wool, which were meticulously recorded in the so-called Babylonian Astronomical diaries. This seems to be a superfluous undertaking in view of the fact that the prices were recently published by Alice Slotsky, The Bourse of Babylon (Bethesda, MD, 1997), but it must be said that this book is very defective, as will be shown below. Hence, new editions and new analyses will be attempted in this study. I receive the assistance for the statistical analysis from an economic historian, versed in statistics, dr. C.A. Mandemakers of the Internationaal Instituut voor Sociale Geschiedenis, Amsterdam. A second important source for the study of Hellenistic Asia is the collection of Babylonian Chronicles. Part of these chronicles are edited by A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, Locust valley 1975, but this edition must now be seen as outdated as far as the chronicles from the Hellenistic era are concerned. The transliteration and translation of the chronicles in question, nos. 10-13b, contain many errors and a historical comment is required, as dr. Grayson is not a specialist in the field of Hellenistic studies. Furthermore, thanks to the help of dr. Irving Finkel, curator of the Babylonian collection of the British museum, a number of unpublished chronicles came to my knowledge, which I am allowed to publish. Dr. Finkel was so kind as to give me his transliterations and I had time to collate most of them. Among these chronicles are very interesting texts about the Greek colony in the city of Babylon, which is of great importance for the study of ethnicity in the hellenistic cities. It is my intention to provide a new transliteration, translation and historical commentary.