An Episode in the Fall of Babylon to the Persians

by Paul-Alain Beaulieu
An Episode in the Fall of Babylon to the Persians
Paul-Alain Beaulieu
Journal of Near Eastern Studies
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CULT statues in ancient Mesopotamia were more than just simple representations of deities. They were fashioned and repaired in the temple workshop according to elab- orate prescriptions which transformed their lifeless matter into the living incarnation of the deity. The divine presence was thereafter maintained in the statue through the daily performance of complex rituals and ceremonies which were probably borrowed, for the most part, from the ceremonial of the court on the model of which gods and their retinues were believed to lead their existence.' It is only with great difficulty that the modern mind can attempt to penetrate how the ancient Mesopotamians perceived this partial, or perhaps even complete, consubstantiality of the deity and its representation. Needless to say, no ancient text presents us with a self-conscious expository doctrine of statue wor- ship in the way that Christian theologians would later debate over comparable questions of dogma.? Consubstantiality, for lack of a better term, was evidently not perceived as a problem by the common worshiper, nor did it ever become a matter for speculation or debate among scholars and intellectuals. Nevertheless, the peculiarities and contradic- tions of Mesopotamian statue worship did not fail to become the target of the derisive criticism of some contemporary neighbors of the Babylonians in the persons of the prophets of Israel, where the transition to a more transcendental concept of the divine had already taken place. Most references are found in Second Isaiah, which voices nu- merous condemnations of the worship of idols, as they are called, in Babylonia."

One of the most powerful illustrations of the strength and conviction of image wor- ship in ancient Mesopotamia is probably the treatment of cult statues in times of war. Assyrian and Babylonian sources of the first millennium frequently allude to the

* The historical events discussed in this article Divine King," in J. A. Emertor, ed.. Congress Vol- have previously been analyzed in my book The Reign ume: Jerusalem 1986, Vetus Testamentum Supple-of Nabonidus King of Babylon, YNER 10 (New ments, vol. 40 (Leiden. 1988). pp. 54-66. Haven and London. 1989). pp. 220-24 (hereafter The question of the emergence of self-awareness Reign). The present article is an expanded version in that period, i.e.. of a critical look at their own cul- which includes important, new material. ture by Mesopotamian intellectuals, has recently been

' A. L. Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: Por-investigated by P. Machinist. "On Self-Consciousness trait of a Dead Civilization, ed. E. Reiner (rev. ed., in Mesopotamia," in S. N. Eisenstadt, ed., The Origins Chicago. 1977). pp. 183-98; W. W. Hallo, "Cult and Diversih of Axial Age Civilizations (Albany, Statue and Divine Image: A Preliminary Study," in 1986), pp. 183-203 and 51 1-18. The author con-

W. W. Hallo, J. C. Moyer, and L. G. Perdue, eds., cludes that while there is some evidence for an Scripture in Context II: More Essays in the Compar- emerging self-awareness in Mesopotamian culture, ative Method (Winona Lake, Indiana, 1983), pp. 1- the elites always remained bound by the traditional 18; and by Hallo, "Texts, Statues and the Cult of the limits imposed on their intellectual role.

See Isa. 40: 18-20; 44:29: 42:8, 17; 44:12-20

(the most elaborate condemnation): 45:16. 20; 46: 1-2, [JNES 52 no. 4 (1993)l 5-7: 48:5; and 57:13. Other condemnations of idol O 1993 by The University of Chicago. worship, not specifically aimed at Babylonian prac- All rights reserved. tices, however, can be found in Isa. 2:8. 18, 20; 22:9; 0022-296819315204-0001$1 .OO 30:22; 31:7: 37:19; and Psalm 115.

removal of divine statues from the temples as the result of a city being conquered. Spo- liated statues were usually carried off to the land of the victorious power (Assyria in most known cases) where they remained in captivity until a turn of events would allow them to be restored to their shrines. Bruno Meissner was the first to argue that capture of cult statues need not have been motivated merely by the captor's greed but, rather, was meant to actualize the rupture between the god and his native land. This rupture was the result of the anger of the god who summoned the enemy to destroy the land and bring the statue to a foreign country already elected by the god himself as his new place of re~idence.~

Rather than incur the capture of their gods and the resulting implications of such cap- ture, namely, that the gods were abandoning the city and calling for its destruction, cit- ies often tried to prevent the transfer of the statues to enemy territory, since continued possession of them in the face of adversity proved that the gods were still protecting and supporting their people and native land. In his study of the phenomenon of the spolia- tion of divine statues, M. Cogan collected and briefly discussed the few known attempts at preventing gods from falling into the hands of the aggre~sor.~

The earliest example is found in the annals of the Middle-Assyrian ruler Tiglath-pileser I, which report that the survivors of his campaign against Kummuh (Commagene) took their gods and fled to the mountains. Several centuries later, the Babylonian king Merodach-Baladan I1 also fled on two occasions with the gods of Babylonia to places that were inaccessible to the Assyrian army. In the Neo-Babylonian period, statues were sent to the capital on three occasions for safekeeping because of an immediate military threat. This happened twice in the accession year of Nabopolassar because of the advance of an army led by the As- syrian king Sin-Sar-iSkun, and, finally, during the months which preceded the invasion and conquest of Babylonia by the Persians in 539 B.c., King Nabonidus ordered a mas- sive gathering of the gods of Sumer and Akkad into the capital. Unlike previous at- tempts, the gathering ordered by Nabonidus is documented by a number of historical and archival sources. It is the purpose of this article to analyze these sources and to draw some new historical conclusions concerning the events which close the last chap- ter of the history of Babylonia as an independent political entity.

Our main source is the Neo-Babylonian Chronicle Series for the 17th year of Nabo- nidus and the accession year of Cyrus (539-538 B.c.). The Chronicle states that in an unknown month of the 17th year:h

[ . . . the gods] of Marad. Zababa and the gods of Kish. Ninlil [and the gods ofl Hursagkalama entered Babylon. Until the end of the month Uliilu the gods of Akkad [. . .]which are above the wall and below the wall were entering Babylon. The gods of Borsippa, Kuthah, and Sippar did not enter (Babylon).

This show of divine favor did not prevent Nabonidus from defeat. One of the first deeds of Cyrus after the conquest was to return the statues brought to Babylon by Nabonidus to their respective cities. This is also reported in the chronicle:'

'B. Meissner. Babylonien und Assyrien, vol. 2 Edition in A. K. Grayson, Assyrian and Bahylo- (Heidelberg, 1925), pp. 126-28. nian Chronicles, TCS, vol. 5 (Locust Valley, New

%. Cogan, Imperialism and Religion: Assyria. York, 1975). Chronicle 7, p. 109, 11. 8-12 (hereafter Israel, and Judah in the Eighth and Seventh Centu- Grayson, ABC).The name of the month when the ries B.C., SBL Monograph Series 19 (Missoula, gathering of gods started is broken in our copy of the Montana, 1974). pp. 30-34. with transliteration and chronicle. translation of all relevant sources. Ibid., p. 110, 11. 21-22,


From the month Kislimu to the month Addaru the gods of Akkad which Nabonidus had brought down to Babylon returned to their places.

The returning of the statues to their sanctuaries provided Cyrus with one of his many propagandistic anti-Nabonidus themes. Not content with re-establishing the gods in their residence, he charged the deposed king with having brought them to the capital against their will. Indeed, if a ruler threatened by superior military forces would, so to speak, "twist the arm" of the gods into lending him their symbolic support, the gods might still grant the victory to the invader. When this happened, the acts of the fallen ruler became condemned by the very fact of his defeat. The victorious invader could then claim that the gods had been brought out of their shrines against their will and made prisoners and that he was their legitimate caretaker. He could rightfully claim to have freed them from captivity and returned them to their favorite dwelling. Such pro- paganda is found in the Cyrus Cylinder, a building inscription in the Babylonian style commissioned by the Persian ruler shortly after the conq~est:~

As for the gods of Sumer and Akkad which Nabonidus, to the wrath of the lord of the gods. brought to Babylon, at the command of Marduk, the great lord, I (Cyrus) caused them to dwell in peace in their sanctuaries, (in) pleasing dwellings. May all the gods I brought (back) to their sanc- tuaries plead daily before BE1 and NabG for the lengthening of my days. may they intercede fa- vorably on my behalf.

Antedating the Cyrus Cylinder by more than a century and a half, the Annals of Sar- gon I1 of Assyria articulate similar propaganda. The Neo-Babylonian Chronicle Series reports that in 709 B.c., in the 13th year of his reign, Sargon captured the capital of his arch-enemy Merodach-Baladan 11, Dnr-Yakin, where the Babylonian ruler had gathered the gods of the Sealand because of the Assyrian inva~ion.~

Two years later, the gods were returned to their shrines by Sargon, who gives in his Annals an account of the event which is much more tendentious than the dispassionate account of the Chronicle:")

I established the freedom of the cities of Ur, Eridu, Larsa, Kissik. and NEmed-Laguda, and I returned to their cult centers the gods who had been carried off, and Ireinstated their regular offerings, which had been interrupted.

Cyrus was thus only following a well-established Mesopotamian pattern of thought when he accused Nabonidus of impiety for having gathered the gods in Babylon. Such ability to cater to local cultures and ideological systems distinguished the Achaemenid rulers, Cyrus in particular, and no doubt facilitated the integration of many diverse com- ponents into a centralized empire.

The cuneiform text of the Cyrus Cylinder was 11. 1'-5'. published as 5R 35 (copy by Th. G. Pinches). The 'O See A. G. Lie, The Inscriptions of Sargon [I, fragment published as BIN 2 32 was identified as be- King of Ass?ria, pt. 1, The Annals (Paris, 1929), pp. longing to the cylinder not too long ago. See C. B. F. 64-65. The events of the reign of Merodach-Baladan Walker, "A Recently Identified Fragment of the I1 are discussed by J. A. Brinkman, "Merodach-Cyrus Cylinder," Iran 10 (1972): 158-59; latest edi- Baladan 11," in R. D. Biggs and J. A. Brinkman, eds., tion with full discussion in P. R. Berger, "Der Kyros- Studies Presented to A. Leo Oppenheim (Chicago, Zylinder mit dem Zusatzfragment BIN I1 Nr.32 und 1964). pp. 6-53; Brinkman. Prelude to Empire, Ocdie akkadischen Personennamen im Danielbuch," ZA casional Publications of the Babylonian Fund 7 (Phil- 64 (1974): 192-234. adelphia. 1984), pp. 46-53.

See Grayson, ABC, Chronicle 1, pp. 75-76,

One expects that the departure of statues for the capital during the months which pre- ceded the Persian conquest might be documented in the temple archives of the period. Two large Neo-Babylonian temple archives have survived. One is that of the Ebabbar of Sippar, the temple of SamaS, but the Chronicle states explicitly that the gods of Sippar did not seek shelter in Babylon. The other archive is that of the Eanna of Uruk, the tem- ple of the goddess IStar. The Chronicle makes no specific mention of the gods of Uruk,ll but several documents from the Eanna indicate that Uruk is indeed one of the cities which sent its statues to Babylon. The earliest text is YOS 3 145, a letter:"

Letter of Ri[mit] to NabO-[mukin-zEri], Satammu of the E[anna]. and NabO-ah-id[din], be1 piqitti [of the Eanna], my brothers. May NabO and Marduk bless my brothers! Send me one leather mat and five (inflatable) goatskins for the boat concerning the La[d]y of the Eanna via the soldiers who will bring the boat parts to me, (so that) the Lady of the Eanna may go upstream to Babylon on the Euphrates.

The two recipients of the letter are well known from Uruk documents. They were ap- pointed as iataminu and bZl piqltti of the Eanna temple in the beginning of Nabonidus's 17th year and stayed in office, the former until the first year of Cyrus, the latter until the 4th year of Cambyses.13 One can surmise that the place of origin of the letter is Babylon because of the salutation formula invoking Marduk and Nab0.14 The sender is presum- ably a high official in view of the fact that he addresses the recipients as "his brothers," hence a high official of the capital is very likely. The restoration of his name as Rimiit is almost certain. Rimut is the most common Neo-Babylonian name formation and also one of the few starting with the syllable &.I5 This Rimiit is most probably the zazakku official of the same name known from dated documents to have held this office in the last years of the reign of Nabonidus (see Appendix 1, pp. 258-59 below). He also ap- pears in the Verse Account of Nabonidus, a piece of propaganda probably composed at the instigation of Cyrus and castigating the religious reforms of the fallen monarch.lh The text describes Rimtit and his colleague Zeriya, the iatammu of the Esagil, as flatter- ers courting Nabonidus, supporting his argument that the temple of Marduk in Babylon is, in fact, a sanctuary of the moon-god (col. v 23-27):

(And) ZEriya, the fatamml*, crouching in front of him, (and) Rimat, the za;akku, standing by him, would confirm the king's utterance, they would approve of his order. They would (even) bare their

"One suspects that the enumeration is far the letter are invoked in the address formulas. Letters from exhaustive. As recently pointed out by Brink- sent from Larsa to Uruk, for instance, almost always man. "The Babylonian Chronicle Revisited." in Tzvi contain invocations to Sama~ and Aya and. in some Abusch, John Huehnergard. and Piotr Steinkeller. cases, also to Bunene (see my article "Neoeds.. Lingering Over Words: Studies in Ancient Near Babylonian Larsa: A Preliminary Study," Or. n.s. 60 Eastern Literature in Honor of I.Villiam L. Moran, (1991): 77-78. See also n. 30 below. Harvard Semitic Studies 37 (Atlanta, 1990). p. 94 Is Collation of the tablet has not proved helpful. and n. 126, the gods of Uruk seem to have been fre- The top right corner is chipped away, and, as a re- quent travelers. The event under discussion may be sult, only the beginning of a horizontal wedge is vis- added to the list he provides. ible after RI. This would be consistent, however, with

"Transliteration and translation in Reign, a restoration 'ri-nt[ut]or 'ri-m[u-tulbut does not sup- pp. 220-21. port it beyond question.

13 Their periods of incumbency are discussed in The Verse Account of Nabonidus was pubibid.. p. 161. and in H. M. Kiimmel, Familie, Beruf lished with copy, transliteration. and translation in und Amt im spatbabylonischen Uruk, ADOG 20 (Ber- S. Smith, Babylonian Historical Texts Relating to lin. 1979), pp. 143-44 (hereafter Kiimmel, Familie). the Capture and Downfall of Babylon (London,

I' Usually the main gods of the place of origin of 1924), pp. 27-97 and pls. 5-10.

heads and declare, (as if under) oath: (Ah!) now (only) do we understand (the matter), since the king has explained (it).

At this point, one may recall the accounts which Sargon and Cyrus give of the gather- ings of statues by Merodach-Baladan and Nabonidus. They show one basic difference. While Sargon insists that the offerings to the gods had been interrupted because Mero- dach-Baladan fled with the statues, Cyrus makes no such claim concerning Nabonidus. Might that be an indication that the Babylonian ruler went to great lengths to provide for the proper care and feeding of the statues sheltered in the capital? The archival evi- dence helps answer that question in the affirmative. Several Eanna transactions allude to the arrangements made at that time by the priestly collegium of the temple to provide for the gods of Uruk temporarily housed in Babylon. The first one is a text from the Yale Babylonian Collection which will be published as YOS 19 94." It records a depo- sition before the assembly of the mdr bani of Uruk (obv. 1-6):IX

(These are) the mdr bani in whose presence ZEriya. son of Ardiya, has thus spoken: Bazuzu, son of Ibni-IStar. descendant of Gimil-Nanaya. has brought a boat from Babylon to lease it fo[r the sum of x x x 1, and he said thus: "I will take the barley for the regular offerings of the Lady-of-Uruk to Babylon."

The date of the tablet is month V (Abu), day 5, 17th year of Nabonidus, exactly during the period in which the gods of Akkad were being sent to Babylon according to the Chronicle. Traveling by boat on the Euphrates was the easiest means of communication between Uruk and the capital. This is how the statue of IStar was transported, the letter YOS 3 145 tells us. We know that the administrators of the Eanna often used waterways for transportation; several texts from the archive record rentals of boats from private contractors. In fact, a survey of all such contracts from the Eanna shows that there was a sudden increase in the frequency of boat rentals in the months preceding the fall of Babylon to the Persians. As one may judge from the following table, which lists all pub- lished boat rentals from the Eanna archive, out of fourteen such texts extending over a period of 30 years, no fewer than six are dated to the 17th year of Nabonidus.19

The high frequency of boat rentals in the 17th year of Nabonidus must be related to the stay of IStar of Uruk in the capital. Another compelling argument is that all but one are witnessed by high officials, which is never the case for other boat rentals, and the high officials acting as witnesses are always NabQ-mukin-zeri, the fatammu of Eanna, and NabQ-ah-iddin, the bP1 piqitti of Eanna, the two recipients of the letter from the zazakku Rimiit ordering the transfer of the gods of Uruk to the capital.

" This text volume. Legal and Administrative lection is on permanent loan to the Babylonian Sec- Documents from rhe Reign nf Nctbonidu.~,will in-tion of the University Museum, University of clude copies of the remaining unpublished Nabon-Pennsylvania. They were published with copy, trans- idus tablets preserved at the Yale Babylonian literation, and translation by G. Frame in "Some Collection. I wish to express my thanks to William Neo-Babylonian and Persian Documents Involving

W. Hallo, Curator of the Collection, for permission Boats," Oriens Antiquu.~ 25 (1986): 29-50. Frame to study and publish this material. had already raised the question of whether "Eanna's l8 Transliteration, translation, and discussion in interest in acquiring the use of boats in the time im- Reign, pp. 221-22. mediately preceding the Persian invasion could be

l9 The tablets with PTS museum numbers belong connected in some way with the events and/or condi- to the Princeton Theological Seminary. whose col- tions leading up to the invasion."


PTS 22 191269 1 Nabonidus year 6 NW
PTS 2301 Nabonidus year 17   W
TCL 12 121 Nabonidus year 17   W
YOS 6 215 Nabonidus year 17 NW  
YOS 6 195 Nabonidus year 17   W
YOS 19 11 Nabonidus year 17   W
YOS 19 12 Nabonidus year 17   W
AnOr 8 40 Cyrus year 3 NW  
PTS 2695 Cyrus year 3 NW  
GCCI 2 100 Cyrus year 7 NW  
YOS 7 80 Cyrus year 9 NW  
YOS 7 147 Cambyses year 3 NW  
YOS 7 148 Cambyses year 3 NW  
YOS 17 302 Nebuchadnezzar IV year 1 NW  

NOTE: NW = not witnessed by high officials. W = witnessed by high oHicials (always NabQ-mukin-zeri, the Satammu, and Nabfi-ah-iddin, the be1 piqitti of Eanna).

These boat rentals merit closer scrutiny. As can be seen from table 2, three of them are dated to the 28th and 29th day of Diizu, the 4th month; one is dated to the 8th day of Abu, the 5th month; and two others to the 6th day of Uliilu, the 6th month. And it is in the 7th month that Babylon fell to the Persians. All the boats were leased for a period of one month starting with the day of the drafting of the document, and one of them, YOS 6 195, specifies that the boat was to be used for carrying 150 kurrii of barley. The nature of the cargo is not specified in the other cases.

The data from these boat rentals can be matched perfectly with YOS 19 94, the depo- sition before the assembly of Uruk just discussed, which is dated to the 5th day of the 5th month and informs us that these boats were leased for carrying barley. We can therefore conclude that the cult statues of Uruk were already in Babylon at the end of the 4th month, when the administrators of the Eanna institutionalized a system by which they sent regular offerings of barley to the capital.

Before going one step further in this investigation, it is necessary to elaborate on a few facts that will illuminate the discussion which follows. The complex system of food and sacrificial offerings in the Eanna was divided into three main branches. One was the tabihiitu, the office of the butchers (or meat carvers), who prepared the offerings of parts of sacrificial animals to the deities and their redistribution as prebends and perquisites among the temple personnel. The other two, the siras'litu and the nuhatimmiitu,the offices of the brewers and the bakers, dealt with the daily offerings of beer, porridge, cakes, and various kinds of sweets to the deities. Since brewers and bakers used many of the same ingredients, such as barley and dates, the administrative and ritualistic as- pects of their offices were often linked. Thus we have a large number of texts in the Eanna Archive called pan ili documents by modern scholars. They are accounts of ad-




YOS 6 215 date: day 28, month IV (DQzu)
  rental period: all of month V (Abu)
  capacity: unspecified
PTS 2301 date: day 29, month IV (Diizu)
  rental period: all of month V (Abu)
  capacity: 30 GUR
YOS 19 11 date: day 29, month IV (DQzu)
  rental period: all of month V
  capacity: 180 GUR
YOS 6 195 date: day 8, month V (Abu)
  rental period: V-10 to VI-I0
  capacity: 150 GUR
  remarks: leased for carrying barley
    (1. 7, pu-ut .fu-lu-li fa'
    150 GUR SE.BAR na-9i)
TCL 12 121 date: day 6, month VI (Ululu)
  rental period: VI-6 to VII-6
  capacity: 150 GUR
YOS 19 12 date: day 6, month VI (Ululu)
  rental period: VI-6 to VII-6
  capacity: 120 GUR

vance deliveries of barley and dates to brewers and bakers in connection with their du- ties to IStar, Nanaya, and other temple goddes~es.'~'

The three corporations of the butchers, brewers, and bakers each had a head officer called the iiipiru. We know the names of these three officials in the last years of Nabo- nidus: they were Innin-Sum-usur, son of Iddin-NabQ, descendant of Kidin-Marduk, the chief of the butchers (ScTpir tabihe); Lab2Si-Marduk, son of Arad-BE.1, descendant of Egibi, the chief of the bakers (Siipir nuhatirnmd); and Madanu-ahhe-iddin, son of Gimillu, descendant of Sigii32, the chief of the brewers (Siipir siriiSE).?'

One may suppose that the administrators of the Eanna, having dispatched the divine statues to Babylon, did not limit their duty solely to sending cargoes of barley and other kinds of foodstuff to the capital. These raw commodities had to be processed into food and drink and sanctified through elaborate rituals. It seems reasonable to assume that a collegium of brewers and bakers accompanied IStar to the capital and that they were led

20 These documents are discussed in H. Frey-after Freydank, SWU). dank. Sputhab~lonisclte Wirt.rchaftstexte au.r Uruk, ''The careers of these individuals are discussed Deutsche Akademie der Wissenschaften zu Berlin, in Kiimmel. Familie s.v., and Freydank. SWU, Institut fur Orientforschung 71 (Berlin, 1971) (here-pp. 17-20.

by their head officers LabSSi-Marduk and Madanu-ahhe-iddin. Some years ago, D. Arnaud published a legal document drafted at Babylon on the 24th day of the 5th month of the 17th year of Nabonidus; the date falls exactly within the period which is relevant to the present disc~ssion.~~

The document belongs to the Eanna Archive but was written in Babylon. It records a legal dispute between a private party and the Eanna temple con- cerning the status of an oblate of the goddess Nanaya. The dispute was settled by the royal court of justice in Babylon. The crucial fact, for the purpose of the present discus- sion, is that the officers who represented the temple before the royal judges were Bala~u, son of Sin-ibni, a [upfar Eanna (a scribe of the Eanna temple) and Madanu-ahhe-iddin, son of Gimillu, descendant of Sigti'a, the chief of the brewers (tapir sirate^) of IStar of Uruk. So we now know that at least one of the three Eanna officials in charge of food offerings to IStar and her divine retinue had accompanied the statue of the goddess to Babylon, since the document was drafted a month after her arrival in the capital.

There must have been a certain degree of communication between the officials who had traveled to Babylon and the authorities of Uruk. The Eanna archive contains several hundred official letters, most of which were sent to the administrators of the Eanna by various subordinates performing tasks outside Uruk, either in the capital or in one of the administrative dependencies of Uruk. This leads us to the cornerstone of my argument.

D. Weisberg published a letter from the Eanna archive and entitled the article "A Neo- Babylonian Temple Report," with copy, transliteration, translation, and a brief commen- tary. The tablet belongs to the collection of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago (nos. A 5345 + A 5364). So far, the letter has gone largely unnoticed with the exception of a brief commentary by D. Cocquerillat, who was chiefly interested in the vocabulary for date palm c~ltivation.~'

It is now possible, in the light of the data just presented, to propose a radically new interpretation of the letter.24

Weisberg, JAOS 87 (1967): 9 = A 5345 + A 5364


0bv. 1. [IM I d~l.~~]~*-S~S.~~-~~

2. "*la *-ba *l-Si-d~~~~.~~


    1. 'a-nu Ild~k-S~S-~u


    2. EN-i-ni
  1. ru41-inu-us-sud~~ u d~k ~ Sa' UNUG~'S ~ ~


d ~

  1. 'u dnal-na-a ana TIN ZI.MEa-ra-ku


    1. ru41.~~S


    2. fu-ub lib-bi fu-ub uzu
  2. 'pa1-ni ha-du-tu Sa DINGIR.MES



"D. Arnaud, "Un Document juridique concernant the ear to be 17 in his discussion of the text. les oblats," RA 67 (1973): 147-56, with photograph lY

See D. Weisberg, "A Neo-Babylonian Temple of the tablet, transliteration, translation, and commen- Report," JAOS 87 (1967): 8-12, and D. Cocquerillat, tary. A copy was subsequently published by J. M. "Complements aux palmeraies et cultures de 1'Eanna Durand, Texre.~ habyloniens d'ipnque rkente. Re-d'Uruk (IV)," RA 79 (1985): 54-55. cherche~ sur les grandes civilisations, Cahier no. 6 "I wish to thank John A. Brinkman of the Orien- (Paris, 1981). pls. 60-61 (A0 19536). Arnaud's tal Institute of the University of Chicago who kindly transliteration has a misprint for the regnal year in the collated several passages of the letter for me. These date formula (7 instead of 17). but year 17 is clear collations are followed by asterisks andlor discussed from both the copy and the photograph. That this is a in the textual commentary. misprint is evidenced by the fact that Arnaud assumes

  1. a-nu muh-hi 'EN-il-ni nu-sal-li


  2. NINDA.HI.A ba-ni KAS.'SAG' fa-a-biDINGIR.MES


    1. 'ins AN!.MI~u4 15-KAM 1~1.5~


    2. IT-TI-bi
  3. U 'it-ta*l-[ ..........] 'a*?-nu*? EN*.NUN*-ti*' 


  4. fa' C.AN.NA 20 'DUG' [ka-an-du] Sa' GESTIN.HI.A


  5. fa' e-bir i~ 5 DUG kan-du fa' LAL.HI.A


    1. 10 ku%n&-ki-rume~a'


    2. hu-sa-bu
  6. 2000 GUN fa hu-?a-bu giS~~S~~~~~.r~~S1


~ ~...] ~

  1. LUGAL a-nu d ~ fa' UNUG~'[id-dinS


  2. as-nk-e fa a-nu u4 1-K[AM ......]


  3. 'il-qar-ru-b[u .............] 


  4. [ ....a]s-nk- [e ...........] 


lower 20. [.......... edge

rev. 21. [ ....] ba[ ............. 1 
  22. rSa'l a-nu ITI KIN [...........1 
  23. a-kan-nu ia-a-nu u [ .........1 
  24. S~G.HI.Au500 [............1 
  25. tar-de-nk-e Sa' a-nu pap *-p[a*-su]
  26. a-nu 1 6 ~ ~u I ~u ~ ~~ ~ ~~ ~ ~~ . ~ ~ ~~ S ._ ~ ~ S
  27. in-nu-an-di-nu EN 1u-fe-bi-<la>-an-nu-a-Sli          
  28. IliSA.~~~fa' C.SAG.~L          
  29. iq-ta-ba-an-nu-a--s' um-ma          
  30. LUGAL il-ta-la-an-ni urn-ma          
  3 1. ki-ma-a N~G.GAfad ~ fa UNUG~' S~ ~ ~          
  32. a-nu TIN.TIR~'i-la-a I%R~N.MES          
  33. gab-bi ma-la a-nu a-kan-nu          
  34. EN if-pu-ra u4 18-KAM          
  35. a-nu pa-ni ~N-ia ni-il-ta-par          

Translation Lines 1-8 [Letter of Madalnu-ahhe-iddin, LrTbgSi-Marduk, and Balrifu to Nabii-ah-iddin our lord.

Daily do we pray to Bel, Nabii, the Lady-of-Uruk, and Nanaya on behalf of our lord for (his) life, longevity, good spirits, good health, (and) royal and divine favor.

Lines 9-16 The bread looks nice, the beer tastes good. During the "eclipse" of the 15th day of the month Diizu, the god(s) haslhave rejoiced (?),25 and the [.........] for (?)the

25 Or "haslhave gone in procession" (see corn mentary, pp. 10-1 1 below).

watch of the Eanna, the king [gave] to the Lady-of-Uruk 20 jugs of Syrian wine, 5 jugs of honey, 10 skins of (aromatic?) wood, (and) 2,000 talents of palm husabus[ . . . . . . ]

Lines 17-23

The Telmun dates which are offered (lit. "they offer") on the first day [of the month.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .] Here there are no [. . . . . .] which are (usually) offered in the month Uliilu and [. . . . . .]

Lines 24-27

May the lord send us wool and 500 second quality [. . . . . .] which are (usually) allot- ted as perqui[sites] to the bakers and the brewers.

Lines 28-32

The Satarnrnu of the Esagil has spoken to us, thus: "The king has asked me, thus: how much of the property of rhe Lady-of-Uruk has come upstream to Babylon?"

Lines 32-35

On the 18th day we sent back to our (!) lord all the soldiers he had dispatched hither.

Textual and Philological Cornmentary

1. 1. Weisberg does not restore the name, but his copy strongly suggests KUD before SES.ME-MU. is indeed most likely though

According to J. A. Brinkman's collation, KUD heavily worn. A reading [d~~-~~]~

is therefore almost certain. The last two components of the name, SES.ME-MU,

should be preceded by a divine name. And, in Neo-Babylonian onomastics, d ~ (= Madanu) is the only commonly attested divine name which ends ~ ~

~. ~

with the sign KUD. The name should thus be read [Madalnu-ahhE-iddin.

1. 2. Weisberg does not restore the name at the beginning of the line. His copy has a clear SI before *AMAR.UD, Accord-

preceded by a vertical which could be the end of BA. ing to Brinkman, faint subsurface traces would be consistent with I rla-bal-Si. Thus the reading of the name as rLiib2Si1-Marduk is most likely.

1. 10. Weisberg reads ina 'x -MI'. His copy allows a reading 'ins AN.MI', but only the top portions of AN and MI are visible (there is little doubt about the MI). Brinkman points out that BAR seems better than AN though the latter is possible but would have to be very cramped (AN!). Writing is, in fact, often cramped in these letters, and since 'AN.MI' (= attalli, "eclipse") is the only reading which make sense, I will assume that the sign is indeed AN!. Brinkman also confirms the copy for the rest of the line: the date DOzu 15 is entirely clear and the verb at the end is unquestionably IT-TI-bi. Weisberg tentatively interpreted it as a form of tebli, "to rise," which is sometimes attested with a meaning "to go in procession" when referring to gods (see AHw. s.v. tebli 3 e). Another possi- bility would be a form of tcibu, "to feel good, to rejoice" (G perfect 3d pers. sing. or plural: it-ti-bi),also attested as a fientic verb to describe gods rejoicing (see AHw.s.v. tiiibu G 11).

1. 11. Brinkman has collated the third sign as certainly TA, and the end of the line as e<f+m "for the watch." I find

, which suggests a reading 'a?*-nu?* EN*.NGN*-~~*', myself unable to propose any restoration other than highly speculative ones for the lost portions of the line.

1. 25. Brinkman has collated the last word as pap*-p[a*-su],confirming Weisberg's original reading.

1. 27. Weisberg's reading of a personal name in this line does not seem necessary, since a simple emendation allows a reading lus'dbilanncis'u,"may he send us" (precative 3d pers. sing. + ventive + 1st pers. plural pronominal suffix -ndSu), a very common verbal form in this type of letter. Note also that the personal name 1mgur-SamaS read by Weisberg has no Neo-Babylonian parallel and also has the disadvantage of leaving one unaccounted for sign KU before the Personenkeil as well as an isolated A-Su at the end of the line.

The Senders and Recipient

The letter is addressed to one NabQ-ah-iddin whom Weisberg already identified as the bdl piqitti official of the Eanna temple and whom we have already encountered as one of the two recipients of letter YOS 3 145 ordering the transfer of the statue of IStar to Babylon. He also witnessed, together with the Sataininu NabQ-mukin-zeri, five of the six leases of boats to the Eanna drafted during the three months preceding the Persian inva- sion of Babylonia. In addition, NabQ-ah-iddin appears both as sender and as recipient of a large number of letters and also in numerous administrative and legal transactions from the Eanna archive. Neither his identity nor that of the three senders poses any problem. Madanu-ahhe-iddin and LabgSi-Marduk should be identified as the Siipir siriif& and the Siipir nuhatiinin? of the Eanna respectively and Balatu as thetupSar Eanna of the same name. These identifications appear even more likely when one bears in mind that none of them have contemporary namesakes who might have been prominent enough to figure in the official correspondence of the Eanna.

The Date of the Letter

Identification of the senders and recipient allows us to date the letter quite closely on the basis of their respective periods of incumbency. BalBtu, son of Sin-ibni, descendant of the Oxherd, is attested in his capacity as fupSar Eanna from the 4th year of Nabo- nidus until the 4th year of Cyrus. LBbgSi-Marduk, son of Arad-Bel, descendant of Egibi, is known to have held the charge of Siipir nuhatimme from the 12th year of Nabonidus until the 7th year of Carnby~es.?~

His colleague Madanu-ahhe-iddin, son of Gimillu, de- scendant of Sign3%, was active from the 1st to the 17th year of Nabonidus.?' And, as

'6 See also Kiimmel, Familie, p 152. ?' Ibid., p. 151; and Freydank, SWU, pp. 17-19

already seen, the be1 piqitti NabG-ah-iddin was in office from the 17th year of Nabo- nidus until the 4th year of Cambyses. The only period during which these last two per- sonages are attested as contemporary office holders is the 17th year of Nabonidus. Our letter should therefore belong to that year. This, however, cannot be confirmed beyond question. The last occurrence of Madanu-ahhe-iddin is in Arnaud's text (Nabonidus 17- V-24), but the earliest attestation of his son and successor in his office, $amas-mukin- apli, is from the 3d month of the 2d year of Cyr~s.?~

There is thus a hiatus of a year and a half during which Madanu-ahhe-iddin might still have been in charge, and our letter might conceivably belong to the 1st year of Cyrus or the beginning of his 2d year. It will emerge from the following discussion, however, that the letter was most probably written in the 17th year of Nabonidus.

Place of Origin of the Letter

One question remains. Where was the letter sent from? Some indication can be ob- tained from the address formula. The double invocation by BE1 and NabQ and then by the Lady-of-Uruk and Nanaya is suggestive of a letter sent by Uruk officials temporarily sta- tioned in the district of Babylon and Bor~ippa.~~

Another clue is the rare invocation of the king's blessing, which might indicate that either the recipient or the senders were in the entourage of the king, or at the court, when the letter was written. It is clear from Ar- naud's document that two of the senders, Madanu-ahhe-iddin and Balstu, were in the capital on precisely the 24th day of Abu (5th month) of the 17th year of Nabonidus. In addition, we know from the chronology of the officials mentioned in the address formula that the letter was, in all probability, written in that year. Thus, all the evidence con- verges to suggest that the letter is probably a report sent to Uruk by the officials who ac- companied the statue of IStar to Babylon because of the threat of a Persian invasion and who were staying in the capital to look after her cult. As will be presently seen, when read in the light of that hypothesis, the substance of the letter becomes almost entirely clear.

First the senders reassure the be1 piqitti NabG-ah-iddin on the status of the offerings: "The bread looks nice, the beer tastes good." This is a standard formula of letters origi- nating in temple archives. The formula refers to the quality of food and drink offerings presented to cult statues and is often inserted in more general statements that everything in the temple is, or should be, in order.30 Use of the formula by Madanu-ahhe-iddin and Lab6Si-Marduk is only natural, for, in their capacity as chiefs of the brewers and the bakers, it was precisely their duty to ensure the good quality of the beer and the bread presented to IStar whom they had accompanied to Babylon. They were simply assuring the be1 piqitti official of the temple that everything was in order in the capital.

28 See Kiimmel, Familie, p. 151. The earliest at- Nabonidus and Sama5-mukin-apli's is in TCL 13 182, testation of $amas-mukin-apli is in YOS 7 20 (Cyrus from the second year of Darius). The same remarks 2/II1/9), where he appears in a list of tnar banf wit-hold for the office of fiiplr nuharimm2. nesses. See also YOS 7 88 (Cyrus year 2. month lost), " any Eanna letters contain this double invoca- where he is the second witness in rank after the future tion for which the most sensible explanation is thatSatammu KinP, descendant of DBbibi. It should be they were reports sent back to Uruk by Eanna noted that Madanu-ahhe-iddin and Samai-mukin-apli officials despatched on various missions to Babylon are only sporadically mentioned with their full title of and/or Borsippa. Sapir sirrlSe^ (hladanu-ahhe-iddin's earliest attestation 30 References in CAD, s.v. aka114a16'. with the title is in YOS 6 241 from the 12th year of

Then we are informed about an unclear event which occurred "during the 'eclipse' of the 15th day of the month DDzu." This was not a real eclipse, however, because the 15th of DDzu of the 17th year of Nabonidus fell on 15 July 539 B.c., and we know that there was no eclipse of the moon or of the sun on that day or even during that month." As we have just seen, the assignment of the letter to the 17th year of Nabonidus is not entirely certain, and one might argue, of course, that it was simply not written in that year but perhaps in the first year of Cyrus. Yet there was no eclipse on the 15th of DDzu of the 1st year of Cyrus either.32 This poses no problem, however, for the key to the correct in- terpretation of the passage is to be sought in texts from the hemerological and menolog- ical tradition. In the Great Babylonian Almanac, which has come down to us in several copies including one exemplar from the library of ASSurbanipal and one from late Baby- lonian Uruk, the name of the 15th day of DDzu is "eclipse of Sin (i.e., of the moon)."" Our letter thus contains at this point a quotation from the Almanac, which does not refer to the eventuality of a real eclipse but uses the word metaphorically. Other hemerologi- cal texts contain material which may further illuminate this portion of the letter. Ac- cording to the hemerological series from ASSur the 15th day of the month (any month) is consecrated to the goddess Nin-Eanna (Belit Eanna, which is to say, IStar). The series also prescribes that the king must set forth offerings to Sin on that day of the month.34 The number 15 was IStar's sacred number, and the 15th day of the month was symbolic of the fullness of the moon (the full moon did not necessarily coincide with the 15th of the month) in addition to marking the passage from the first half of the month to the sec- ond half. These symbolic correspondences explain why the 15th of the month was con- secrated to IStar and Sin. The 15th of DDzu was particularly important to Sin: the expression attala Sindescribing that calendrical date means that the moon then stood at its optimal potential influence, whether favorable or ~nfavorable.~"

" See M. Kudlek and E. H. Mickler, Solar and Lunar Eclipses of the Ancient Near East from 3000

B.C. to 0 with Maps, AOATS 1 (Neukirchen-Vluyn, 1971), p. 29 (eclipses of the sun visible at Babylon) and 148 (eclipses of the moon). The nearest eclipse, chronologically speaking, was a partial eclipse of the moon which took olace a month earlier (see Aooen-


dix 2, pp. 260-61 below).

32 Ibid.

33 The copy from the library of ASSurbanipal was published as 5R 48-49 and edited by R. Labat, "Un Almanach babylonien," RA 38 (1941): 13-40. The relevant passage, 5R 48 iv 19, reads 15 AN.MI *30, meaning "the 15th (day of DOzu), eclipse of the moon." It is duplicated by the recently published BM 67304, I. 16: u, 15AN.TA.L~J*30, for which see A. R. George, "Babylonian Texts from the Folios of Sidney Smith: Part One," RA 82 (1988): 152-55. As noted by George, this new text supports the ASSurbanipal li- brary copy against the Uruk almanac as well as the MB almanac from Diir-Kurigalzu; in both, it is the sun that is in eclipse. Note that the ASSur hemerolo- gies move the eclipse to the 16th of DCizu and com- bine the two traditions, specifying that both the moon and the sun are in eclipse; see Labat,HPmCrologies et mtno1ogie.r d'Assur (Paris, 1939), p. 95.

34 See Labat, HPmPrologies, p. 59, prescriptions for Nisanu 15. The prescriptions for Nisanu and Nisanulintercalary were valid throughout the whole year, so the prescriptions for Nisanu 15 were in force for Ayyaru 15, Simanu 15, DOzu 15, and so on. This explains why the Nisanu section of the calendar is al- ways so elaborate in the extant hemerologies (see ibid., p. 39). Note that the ASSur hemerologies have one additional prescription for DCizu 15: "the god is favorable; banquet of the god." This reflects one of the prescriptions for Nisanu 15 to the effect that Sin will look favorably upon a food offering made to him on that day. The section of the great hemerologyInbu bP1 arhim from the library of ASSurbanipal for the 15th of DCizu is unfortunately missing in our sources. Note, however, that the series prescribes food offerings to the moon god for the 15th of Nisanu and calls the 15th of intercalary Nisanu the day of Nin-Eanna and the day of reckoning of Sin. The relevant prescriptions from the hemerologies and almanacs are summarized in S. Langdon, Babylonian Menologies and the Semitic Calendar, Schweich Lecture (London, 1933), pp. 92-93, and in B. Lands- berger, Der kultische Kalender der Babylonier und Ass Irer, LSS 6 112 (Leipzig, 1915), pp. 131-36.

A In fact, the tradition is divided on the character of that day. Some sources list it as favorable, others as unfavorable. The belief that the moon was at its max- imal influence in the middle of the month was not only rooted in the obvious fact that the moon was then full,

That our letter refers to a day consecrated to Sin and IStar accords of course perfectly well with historical circumstances. During the latter part of his reign, Nabonidus strove to impose his own views on religious matters more than ever before. He had just com- pleted the rebuilding of two major shrines of the moon god, the Ehulhul at Harran and the ziggurat of Ur. The opposition aroused by the king's reforming goals is reflected in the Verse Account which contains some indication, corroborated both by contemporary archival sources and by the king's own building inscriptions, that there was an intensifi- cation of pro-Sin propaganda during the very last years of the reign. It is then that the king attempted to turn the Esagil into a sanctuary of Sin,36 supported in his endeavor, the Verse Account tells us, by the zazakku Rimut and the Shtammu (of the Esagil) Zeriya. The moon-good is exalted in the last inscriptions of the king with epithets many Babylonians would probably have felt appropriate for Marduk but inappropriate for Sin. One of these epithets, DINGIR.MESfu DINGIR.MES(ildni fa ildni, ili fa ili or ilu fa ili/ ilani), "god(s) of gods,"37 has been the object of much discussion, mainly because of its obvious connection with Hebrew Zlohim, since the two forms are simply construed as the word "god" in the plural but meant to designate a single divine manifestati~n.~~

It would be, in fact, very tempting to see in the form DINGIR.MESin line 9 of our letter the new name of the god Sin favored by Nabonidus, especially as the verb IT-TI-bi in line 10, whether one interprets it as a G perfect of fiabu or of tebli, is in the singular; hence DINGIR.MESshould be a singular subject and refer to one god only. Following this inter- pretation, the senders would be reporting at that point on a religious festival in honor of the god Sin celebrated in the capital at the instigation of Nabonidus. The evidence from the hemerologies, which specify that this particular day was consecrated to the moon god and prescribe that the king should make offerings to Sin, adds strength to this hy- pothesis, which is not, however, without problems.

but also in the more important observation that eclipses generally occurred between the 13th and the 17th, as well as o:l the 20th and the 21st days of the month. See Labat, "Un Almanac," p. 28, and F. Roch- berg-Halton, Aspects of Babylonian Cele.rtia1 Divina- tion: The Lunar Tablets of Eniima Anu Enlil,

AfO Beiheft 22 (Horn, Austria, 1988), pp. 38-40. 36 The sources are discussed in Reign, pp. 61-62 and 214-19.

37 The epithet occurs in inscription 17 (according to my numbering), which records the restoration of the ziggurat of Ur and is the latest datable inscription of the king, composed probably in his next to iast or last regnal year. So it is roughly contemporaneous with the events described here. The succession of ep- ithets of Sin in the inscription is as follows (col. 1 28-30): *30 DINGIR.MES AN-C KI-ti LlJGAL


a-s'i-ib AN-e GAL.MES,

"Sin, lord of the gods of heaven and the un- derworld, king of the gods, god of gods, who dwells in the great heavens" (the same epithets are repeated in col. ii 3-6).

38 The plural form DINGIR.MES

designating a single god is found in first-millennium copies of literary texts and in late Babylonian personal names. It oc- curs in Ludlul be1 ndmeqi, the Babylonian Theodicy, and the Gula Hymn of Bullutsa-rabi. See W. G. Lambert, Babjlonian Wi.rdom Literature (Oxford, 1960),

p. 67, and idem, "The Gula Hymn of Bullutsa-rabi," Or. n.s. 36 (1967): 132 (these references courtesy of Benjamin R. Foster). The form DINGIR.MES

for the sin- gular is also quite frequent in late Babylonian onomastics. Several personal names from that period display the forms OINGIR and OINGIR.MES

interchangeably. Note, in particular, the name Sin-ilu, written 1d30-~1~~1~and for which see

'd30-~1~~GI~.~ES, K. Tallqvist, Neubabylonische Namenbuch, ASSF 32/12 (Helsinki and Leipzig, 1905), pp. 181 -82. The use of DINGIR.MES in M. D.

for /El/ and /ilu/ is discussed Coogan, West Semitic Perronal Names in the Muras'li Documents, Harvard Semitic Monographs 7 (Missoula, Montana, 1976), pp. 43-47. The meaning of DINGIR.MES fancy of the scribes,

as singular-whether or purely graphemic device (for ili, "my god," which, in any case, should be ilu'a in late Babylo- nian), or semantically meaningful (indicating a plu- rality of godheads converging into one single divine manifestation), needs further clarification, but the third hypothesis seems by far the most likely.

Indeed, the fact that the 15th day of the month was also consecrated to BElit Eanna furnishes some grounds to argue that the senders were only referring to a religious cere- mony involving IStar and her circle of deities, in which case DINGIR.MES would be a real plural subject. One cannot exclude that IT-TI-bi was intended by the scribe as a plural instead of the expected forms IT-TI-bu and IT-TI-bu-u'. Such graphemic confusion is not uncommon in that period, since final vowels, both short and long, had most likely disappeared in the spoken dialect but were retained in the script for motives which have not been satisfactorily el~cidated.~~

Nevertheless, Eanna scribes were generally very careful to use correct, if frozen, spellings of singular, plural, and ventive verbs, as the balance of this text indicates. So the hypothesis that DINGIR.MESis a singular and refers to the god Sin seems in the final analysis the most likely, but until more evidence comes to light, there will still be room for doubt.

One may also note here a passage of the Verse Account which has hitherto remained obscure but might at last be illuminated by our letter. In the section where he describes the statue of the moon god worshiped by Nabonidus, the author specifies that the ap- pearance of the deity is that of the moon in eclipse (col. i, 25: Si-kin-Su d30 AN.MI,"its appearance is that of the eclipsed moon"). Is that, in any way, related to the hemerolog- ical name of the 15th of DOzu, attalli Sin, "eclipse of the moon," and to the fact that this particular day appears to have had special religious significance for Nabonidus?

The possibility that the king, inspired by the prescriptions found in the hemerologies, organized religious ceremonies for Sin in the capital, or perhaps that he even made the arrival of gods from some Babylonian cities coincide with the 15th of DOzu, would be consistent with his personality and does actually possess a striking parallel in our sources. In the stela he set up at Harran to commemorate the rebuilding of the Ehulhul (inscription 13 according to my numbering), the king states that, after his long sojourn in Arabia, he returned to Babylon on the 17th day of TaSritu, quoting word for word the hemerologies which list that day as one "upon which Sin is propitious to mankind."40 Thus, out of only three days which are specifically consecrated to Sin in the hemerolo- gies, namely, DOzu 15, TaSritu 17, and Arahsamnu 29," the first two are mentioned in the extant sources because of Nabonidus's special devotion to the moon god. Quotations of calendar literature in late Assyrian and Babylonian royal inscriptions are not in them- selves unusual. Nabonidus also quotes the learned name of the month Ululu in his in- scription commemorating the elevation of his daughter to the high-priestesshood of N~inna-Sin,~~and ASSurbanipal cites the learned name of the month Ayyaru as well

39 Thus, written forms of aldku such as il-lik and gen zu neuen Stelen Konig Nabonids," 24 56 (1964): il-lik-ki (G preterite 3d pers. sing.) or il-lik-ku and il-253, n. 100; see the discussion in Reign. pp. 151-53. lik-ku-u' (same, 3d pers. plural) were probably all See Labat, "Un Almanac," pp. 33, 1. 17: XVII *30 LC pronounced lilliW during that period. No comprehen- i-man-gar, "on the 17th (day of TaSritu) Sin is propi- sive treatment of final vowels in Neo-Babylonian has tious to mankind." been made sinceJ. P. Hyatt, The Treatment of Final 41 See Labat, "Un Almanac," p. 35, 1. 32: XXIX Vowels in Early Neo-Babylonian, YOSR 23 (New ana sin la ui-kin, "on the 29th (day of Arahsamnu) Haven, 1941). See also the remarks by D. Weisberg, one must not prostrate himself before Sin." Guild Structure and Political Allegiance in Early 42See E. Reiner, Your Thwarts in Pieces Your Achaemenid Mesopotamia, YNER I (New Haven Mooring Rope Cut: Poetn from Babylonia and As- and London, 1967). pp. 106-1 1. syria, Michigan Studies in the Humanities 5 (Ann

"This was first noted by W. Rollig, "Erwagun- Arbor, 1985), p. 8.

as the prescriptions for the 12th day of that month in the introductory section of the Rassam cylinder.43 These quotations by ASSurbanipal concern Ea and Gula, however, two deities which, as pointed out by E. Reiner, have nothing to do with the purpose of the inscription. They were added to confer more solemnity to the text by their learned, scholarly character. Similar quotations of hemerologies by Nabonidus were, as already pointed out, more purposeful, although the king probably also relished the aura of learned sophistication and obscurity they created.

Our letter contains several more bits of historical information, especially concerning the chronology of events in the turbulent months which preceded the fall of Babylon. We can now infer that the statue of IStar of Uruk and her retinue of caretakers had al- ready arrived in the capital by the 15th of DQzu. Our letter must have been written not too long after, probably a few days after the 18th of that month at any rate, for on that day, as we learn at the end of the letter, Madanu-ahhe-iddin, LablSi-Marduk, and Balatu sent back to Uruk the soldiers whom the be1 piqitti NabQ-ah-iddin had previously dis- patched to Babylon. These soldiers had presumably accompanied the statue of IStar on her way to the capital. So the letter reached Uruk probably in the last days of DQzu. As seen earlier (see table 2, p. 247 above), it is precisely at the end of DQzu that boat rent- als appear in the Eanna archive (28th and 29th of DQzu), and it is one week later that YOS 19 94, which specifically refers to the transport of barley to Babylon for the regu- lar offerings to IStar, was drafted. Specific requests made by Madanu-ahhe-iddin and his colleagues must have prompted the arrangements made by the authorities of Uruk at the time. This is, in fact, confirmed by the middle portion of the letter (lines 17-27) in which the senders apparently request shipments, first of Telmun dates for the offerings of the first day of the month (the month Abu) and then of an unknown substance for the offerings of Ululu. They also ask the be1 piqitti to send the wool and the other materials which make up the perquisites for the brewers and the bakers. Such a request seems only natural when one recalls that Madanu-ahhe-iddin and LablSi-Marduk were pre- cisely chiefs of the brewers and bakers. It indicates that a sizeable collegium of these categories of temple personnel, if not all of them, had traveled to Babylon to care for the statue of IStar. The request to send supplies for the offerings of the month Ululu, that is, one month ahead, if one follows the hypothesis that the letter was sent at the end of DQzu, accords very well with known practices of the domestic economy of the Eanna temple. As we have seen earlier, deliveries of foodstuffs and other substances to the brewers and bakers were carefully registered in monthly ledgers called by modern scholars the pan ili documents. These deliveries, which are called maSSartu in these documents, were always made at least one month in advance.44

Finally, our letter mentions the king himself on two occasions. The first passage

(11. 11-16) is not entirely clear because of the break in line 11. It appears that the king made large gifts of foodstuffs and other substances to IStar of Uruk, but we cannot de- termine if these were intended for immediate shipment to Uruk or for consumption at Babylon where the goddess had arrived a few days earlier. In the other passage, the king

43 Ibid., pp 22-23. "See Freydank, SWU. pp. 35 ff.

is quoted asking: "How much of the property of the Lady-of-Uruk has come upstream to Babylon?" One may surmise that part of IStar's treasury, including, of course, her cult paraphernalia, had been sent to the capital for safekeeping as well as for the perfor- mance of the cult. This might also suggest that Nabonidus was planning ahead for a long siege. The official who quotes the king, the Satammu of Esagil, can be identified as the Satammu Z&riya mentioned in the Verse Account together with the zazakkuofficial Rimut, who was also involved in the gathering of statues in Babylon according to letter YOS 3 145. This confirms again the role played by these two officials as implementers of the controversial religious policies of the king. It also confirms the value of the Verse Account as a historical source, bearing in mind, of course, that the composition was in- tended as a piece of propaganda.

What conclusions can we draw? Several months before the final clash of arms at Opis on the Tigris, Nabonidus was already facing the eventuality of a Persian invasion and was making preparations accordingly. These preparations included the gathering of stat- ues in the capital. Many years ago, M. Weinfeld proposed that Nabonidus was only us- ing the Persian attack as a pretext for centralizing the cult in Babylon." This view was rightly rejected by Cogan and hall^.^^ Clearly, the king's primary motive was to prevent these statues from being captured by the enemy, thus following an old usage. This has already been established for quite some time. But my reconstruction of the archival evidence now permits a fuller evaluation of the episode. The letter YOS 3 145 might in- dicate that at least some of the cities did not send their gods voluntarily but were or- dered by the royal administration to do so. They were compelled to make a pledge of loyalty to the reigning monarch. These provincial centers also sent cultic personnel to the capital and regularly supplied their gods with foodstuffs for their regular offerings, the gin0 or satrukku. There is no reason to believe that Uruk was an isolated case. Dur- ing the months preceding the Persian invasion, Babylon became a vast repository of cult statues attended to and cared for by hundreds, if not thousands, of members of their respective clergies. Emissaries went back and forth between the capital and provincial centers; shipments of foodstuffs and other commodities were sent by land and by water, increasing the confusion of a kingdom already at bay. Each sanctuary had its own ritu- als and practices sanctified by tradition and jealously guarded by a priestly college, which transmitted its knowledge to a restricted number of initiates. They could keep the divine representations alive only by performing the rituals properly, offering the right food, and handling the appropriate paraphernalia. In their absence, the statues would lose their divine substance and fall into neglect. The gods would leave their earthly abodes, abandoning their land to its fate. By moving the cultic personnel of each god to the capital, Nabonidus was ensuring the continued substantial presence of the deities at his side.

"Weinfeld. "Cult Centralization in Israel in the "See Cogan, Imperialism and Religion, p. 33, Light of a Neo-Babylonian Analogy," JNES 23 n. 67; and Hallo, "Cult Statue and Divine Image," (1964): 202-12. pp. 14-15.


Rimiit the zazakku and Zeriya the Satammu

In the course of the preceding discussion, several references have been made to these two personages whom the Verse Account describes as flatterers courting Nabonidus. A list of all known references to Rimiit and Zeriya in historical-literary and archival texts follows.47

A. With Name and Title

1. Verse Account of Nabonidus

Col. v. 23. INUMUN-ia ka-mi-is ma-har-s'u


24. Iri-mut '"za-zak-ki u'-Su-uz KI-Su'

Zeriya the Satammu, crouching in front of him, 
Rimiit, the zazakku, standing by him 

2. Strassmaier, Nbn 1055 Administrative text probably from the archive of the Ebabbar of Sippar

Year 17 of Nabonidus

lower 9. 1 GUR 2 (PI) 3 BAN ma-la-a-ta edge

rev. 10. .fa' MU 17-KAMs'a' Iri-mut

11. ""a-zakl-ku a-nu ld~~-~A~ 
'"A Sip-ri SUM.NA 

One kurru, two panu, and three sbtu (of barley), deliveries of the 17th year, which Rimiit the zazakku has given to Bel-kgsir, the messenger.

3. TCL 12 120 Legal text from the Egibi archive drafted at Babylon (Bit far Babili)

Ululu-day 5-year 17 of Nabonidus

Contenau copied the title as '"qi-pi1 but shaded the two signs. Since the word qipu is usually written with a medial -i-(e.g., qi-i-pu/pi) one is tempted to read '"S~.TAM~

because of the close resemblance of the signs KI and Sk, on the one hand, and PI and UD, on the other, which may have misled the copyist. According to BCatrice AndrC-Salvini, DCpartement des AntiquitCs Orientales, Musee du Louvre, who kindly collated the signs, that area of the tab-

"This list expands on the previous discussion in Reign, pp. 216-17.

let is now heavily worn, but traces are better for rSA.~~~l

than for 'qi-pi1.I will therefore assume that the former is correct, leaving some room for doubt, however.

B. With Title Only

4. Weisberg, JAOS 87 (1967): 9 (letter from the Eanna Archive discussed above)

rev. 28. Sd ~.SAG.~L

29. iq-ta-ba-an-na-a-S1l um-ma

the Satammu of the Esagil has spoken to us, thus. . . .

5. YOS 3 91 (letter from the Eanna archive)

O~V. 7. . . . . . . . . . Uq ~-K.&M

  1. Sd ITI Dug ina mu-Si


  2. i-Sd-a-ta ina 6 d~~~.~u


  3. ta-an-da-qu-ut %a-zak-ku


11. u I d~k-~~~

a-nu muh-hi

12. it-ral-ku-nu

on the night of the 2d day of TaSritu lightning struck the temple of Nergal. The zazakku and NabQ-nZsir came to investigate the matter.

This letter was sent by Madanu-a[hhe-iddin] and LZbSSi-Mardu[k] to the Satammu and Na[bQ-ah-iddin]. It is, in fact, the only epistolary document, besides JAOS 87 (1967): 9, in which Madanu-ahhe-iddin and LgbiSi-Marduk appear either as senders or as recipi- ents. As I discussed elsewhere, the document probably dates also to the 17th year of Nabonidus, and the events it refers to probably happened a few days before the fall of Babylon to the Per~ians.~~

C. With Name Only

6. YOS 3 145 (letter from the Eanna archive discussed above)

obv. 1. IM Iri-[mut]

  1. a-na ld~k-[~~-~~~~~]


  2. TAM E. [AN.NA]


  3. u IdNA-SES-M[U]


5. IdEN pi-qit-t~~


Letter of Ri[miit] to NabD-[mukin-zEri], Satammu of the E[anna], and NabQ-ah- id[din], bgl piqitti of the Eanna.

j8 See my art~cle "UBARA (EZENXKASKAL)~~


Udannu," Acta Sumerologlca 13 (1991). 97-109.


The Panic of 539 B.C.

The transport of divine statues to Babylon began at least four months before the Per- sians invaded northern Babylonia and won a swift and decisive victory over the army of Nabonidus near Opis on the Tigris. The victorious invaders entered the capital only a few days later. The sheltering of gods in Babylon was obviously a desperate measure, an acknowledgment that the Persians possessed superior military capability and that the only hope for the Babylonians was to prepare for a long siege, protected by the daunting fortifications of the capital. We do not know if any particular event caused the panic which compelled the king to gather the statues in Babylon or if it just came as the result of intelligence reports that the Persians were preparing for a massive invasion. The question will remain largely unresolved because of the almost complete absence of an- cient sources for the political history of the period. Nevertheless, the following two fragments of information merit some consideration.

According to Herodotus, History 1.1 89, Cyrus spent the entire summer season which preceded his assault on Babylon in the basin of the river Gyndes, the modern Diyala. Some years ago, on the basis of this evidence, G. Cameron suggested that Cyrus and the Persian troops were already encamped in the Diyala region during the summer preced- ing the final assault on Babylon. He correlated this information with the Cyrus Cylinder and with a severely damaged portion of the Chronicle reporting on disturbances in Babylonia at the end of the 16th year of Nab~nidus.~~

Little information can be obtained from the passage in the Chronicle, but the mention of both Uruk and Persia, albeit in broken contexts, is extremely tantali~ing.~~

It is also notable that the Cyrus Cylinder puts great emphasis on the care fostered by the Persian ruler on the cult centers located east of the Tigris in the Diyala basin, which might corroborate Herodotus's report that Cyrus undertook to repair the irrigation network of the area before marching on Baby- l~n.~'

The correlation of sources is interesting and Herodotus's information might pre- serve a kernel of historical facts, but the possibility also remains that the entire story constitutes a mere embellishment to his narrative. One must note, however, that the Per- sian army irrupted into northern Babylonia near Opis, which is located quite close to the confluence of the Tigris and the Diyala. This at least indicates that the Persian army marched along the Diyala on its way to invading Babylonia.

The other fragment of information is the partial eclipse of the moon which occurred 13 June 539 B.C. (= Simgnu 14, year 17 of Nabonidus) and was visible in the Near East.52 No ancient source mentions the eclipse, but one may posit that it was observed at Baby- lon, assuming that atmospheric conditions were favorable. It goes without saying that

49 See G. C. Cameron, "Cyrus the Father and "Agade in the Late Babylonian Period," N.A.B.U. Bab lonia," Acta Iranica 1 (1974): 45-48. 1989166.

"See Reign. pp. 219-20 The possibility that 52 See Kudlek and Mickler. Soiar and Lunar there were Persian incursions in southern Babylonia Eclipses, p. 148. eclipse of -538. 6. 13. This informa- at the end of the 16th year might explain why the tion was also confirmed by Rochberg, University of statue of IStar was sent to Babylon so soon. Notre Dame (personal communication).

"This information is discussed in my note

eclipses of the moon bore a special meaning to Nabonidus-he himself reports on another eclipse in the inscription commemorating the elevation of his daughter to the rank ofentu of Nanna-Sin (inscription 2)-not to mention that the ominous contents of such astro- nomical phenomena were generally held in awe in late Assyro-Babylonian culture. This eclipse in particular was surely interpreted as a bad portent, judging from the passages of Eniima Anu Enlil relating to an eclipse on the 14th day of SimBnu. The predictions vary according to such factors as the coloration of the moon at the time of the eclipse and other atmospheric conditions, but they are uniformly catastrophic for the land.s3 This, as well as the possibility that the Persian army was already massing in the Diyala region, are fac- tors that may have contributed to create a state of panic in the summer of 539 B.C. It was probably only a few days after the eclipse of SimBnu 14 that the gathering of statues was ordered by the court. At any rate, IStar of Uruk was already in the capital by the 15th of DQzu.

"See Rochberg-Halton. Aspects of Babylonian 189-92, and 236. Celestial Divination. pp. 89-90. 93, 129. 169,

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