Babylonian Chronicles

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Babylonian Chronicles
L. W. King’s line-art for a fragment (K. 8532) of the Dynastic Chronicle[1]

The Babylonian Chronicles are a series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography. The Babylonian Chronicles were written in Babylonian cuneiform, from the reign of Nabonassar up to the Parthian Period, by Babylonian astronomers ("Chaldaeans"), who probably used the Astronomical Diaries as their source.

Almost all of the tablets were identified as chronicles once in the collection of the British Museum, having been acquired via antiquities dealers from unknown excavations in the 19th century. All but three of the chronicles are unprovenanced.[2]

The Chronicles provide the "master narrative" for large tracts of current Babylonian history.[2]

Discovery and publication[edit]

The chronicles are thought to have been transferred to the British Museum after 19th century excavations in Babylon, and subsequently left undeciphered in the archives for decades. The first chronicle to be published was BM 92502 (ABC1) in 1887 by Theophilus Pinches under the title "The Babylonian Chronicle". This was followed in 1923 by the publication of the Fall of Nineveh Chronicle (ABC 3), in 1924 by Sidney Smith's publication of the Esarhaddon Chronicle (ABC 14), the Akitu Chronicle (ABC 16) and the Nabonidus Chronicle (ABC 7), and in 1956 by Donald Wiseman's publication of four further tablets including the Nebuchadnezzar Chronicle (ABC 5).[3]


Numbering systems[edit]

ABC – A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (1975)

CM – Jean-Jacques Glassner, Chroniques Mésopotamiennes (1993) (translated as Mesopotamian Chronicles, 2004)

BCHP – I. Finkel & R.J. van der Spek, Babylonian Chronicles of the Hellenistic Period (not yet published)

BM – British Museum Number


Chronicle ABC CM BCHP BM Provenanced
Dynastic chronicle (translation) (another version of Column 5) Dynastic Chronicle.jpg 18 3 Yes
Royal chronicle of Lagaš 6
Weidner chronicle (translation) 19 38 Yes
Early kings chronicle (translation) Early Kings.jpg 20 39,40
Tummal chronicle 7
Uruk chronicle of the kings of Ur 48
Assyrian Eponym List (2nd millennium) 8
Market prices chronicle (translation) 23 50
Synchronic history (translation and another translation) Synchronistic History K.4401.jpg 21 10 Yes
Chronicle P (translation and another translation) Chronicle P.jpg 22 45
Enlil-nirari chronicle 11
Arik-den-ili chronicle 12
Walker chronicle 25 46
Tukulti-Ninurta chronicle 13
Aššur-reša-iši chronicle 14
Tiglath-pileser I chronicle 15
Eclectic chronicle (translation) Eclectic Chronicle.jpg 24 47
Religious chronicle (translation) BM 35968 Religious Chronicle.jpg 17 51
Assyrian Eponym List (1st millennium) 9
Nabu-šuma-iškun 52
From Nabu-Nasir to Šamaš-šuma-ukin (translation) 1 16 92502
From Nabu-Nasir to Esarhaddon 1B 17 75976
Esarhaddon chronicle (translation) 14 18 25091
Šamaš-šuma-ukin chronicle (translation) (another translation) 15 19 96273
Akitu chronicle (translation) 16 20 86379
Early Years of Nabopolassar chronicle (translation) 2 21 25127
Fall of Nineveh chronicle (translation) 3 22 21901
Late years of Nabopolassar chronicle (translation) 4 23 22047
Early Years of Nebuchadnezzar chronicle (translation) ABC 05 Early Years of Nebuchadnezzar chronicle.jpg 5 24 21946
Third year of Neriglissar chronicle (translation) 6 25 25124
Nabonidus chronicle (text and translation) 7 26 35382
Chronographic document on Nabonidus 53
Artaxerxes III chronicle (translation) 9 28
Cyrus cylinder 17 90920
Alexander chronicle (text and translation) Alexander Chronicle (reverse).jpg 8 29 1
Alexander and Arabia chronicle (text and translation) 2
Diadochi chronicle (text and translation) 10 30 3
Alexander and Artaxerxes (translation) 4
Antiochus I and Sin temple chronicle (text and translation) 11 32 5
Ruin of Esagila chronicle (text and translation) 6
Antiochus, Bactria, and India chronicle (text and translation) 13A 36 7
Juniper garden chronicle (text and translation) 8
End of Seleucus I chronicle (text and translation) 12 33 9
Seleucid Accessions chronicle (text and translation) 13 34 10
Invasion of Ptolemy III chronicle (text and translation) 11
Seleucus III chronicle (text and translation) 13B 35 12
Politai chronicle (text and translation) 13
Greek Community chronicle (text and translation) 14
Gold theft chronicle (text and translation) 15
Document on land and tithes (text and translation) 16
Judicial chronicle (text and translation) 37 17
Bagayasha chronicle 18
Chronicle concerning an Arsacid king (text and translation) 19
Euphrates chronicle (text and translation) 20

See also[edit]


  1. ^ L. W. King (1907). Chronicles Concerning Early Babylonian Kings, Vol. II: Texts and Translations. Luzac and Co. p. 145.
  2. ^ a b Caroline Waerzeggers, The_Babylonian_Chronicles_Classification_and_Provenance Journal of Near Eastern Studies 71/2 (2012), 285–298.
  3. ^ Wiseman, 1956, pages 1+2[permanent dead link]


  • Leo Oppenheim's translation of the Nabonidus Chronicle can be found in J. B. Pritchard (ed.) Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (= ANET; 1950, 1955, 1969).
  • The standard edition is A.K. Grayson, Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles (= ABC; 1975; ISBN 978-1575060491).
  • A translation of Chronicle 25, discovered after the publication of ABC, was published by C.B.F. Walker "Babylonian Chronicle 25: A Chronicle of the Kassite and Isin Dynasties", in G. van Driel e.a. (eds.): Zikir Šumim: Assyriological Studies Presented to F.R. Kraus on the Occasion of His Seventieth Birthday (= Fs. Kraus; 1982).
  • John Brinkman revises Grayson's reading of ABC 1 in: "The Babylonian Chronicle revisited" in T. Abusch, J. Huehnergard, P. Steinkeller (eds.): Lingering over Words. Studies in Ancient Near Eastern literature in Honor of William L. Moran (1990 Atlanta; ISBN 978-1555405021).
  • Fragments of the chronicles that are relevant to the study of the Bible, can be found in William W. Hallo (ed.), The Context of Scripture, volume 1 (2003 Leiden and Boston; ISBN 978-9004106185). This book also contains the Weidner Chronicle.
  • A recent update of ABC is Jean-Jacques Glassner, Mesopotamian Chronicles (= CM; 2004, ISBN 978-1589830905; French version 1993, ISBN 978-2251339184).
  • An even more recent update of ABC is Amélie Kuhrt, The Persian Empire: A Corpus of Sources of the Achaemenid Period (Routledge, 2007; ISBN 978-0415552790).
  • The publication of I. Finkel & R. J. van der Spek, Babylonian Chronicles of the Hellenistic Period (= BCHP) has been announced.
  • An exposition that the Babylonian Chronicle should be regarded as a literary interpretation of the past in Waerzeggers, Caroline. "Writing History Under Empire: The Babylonian Chronicle Reconsidered", Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History, vol. 8, no. 1-2, 2021, pp. 279-317.

External links[edit]