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King of the Neo-Babylonian Empire
ReignApril – June 556 BC
DiedJune 556 BC

Labashi-Marduk (Akkadian: Labaši-Marduk, meaning "May I not come to shame, O Marduk")[1] was the fifth king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, ruling in 556 BC. He was the son and successor of Neriglissar. Though classical authors such as Berossus wrote that Labashi-Marduk was just a child when he became king, Babylonian documents indicate that he had been in charge of his own affairs before his rise to the throne, suggesting he was an adult.

Labashi-Marduk's reign was very short, lasting only two to three months, with the latest evidence of Neriglissar being alive being from April 556 BC and documents dated to his successor, Nabonidus, appearing by the end of June that same year. Nabonidus led a coup against the king, deposing and killing Labashi-Marduk. The reason for Nabonidus's usurpation of the throne is unknown, Berossus simply describes the justification as Labashi-Marduk having indulged in "evil ways". One possible explanation is that whereas Neriglissar derived his claim to the throne from having married a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II, Labashi-Marduk could have been a son of Neriglissar by another wife and thus entirely unconnected to the Babylonian ruling dynasty.


Labashi-Marduk was the son and heir of Neriglissar (r560–556 BC), the fourth king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire. Labashi-Marduk's mother was a daughter of Nebuchadnezzar II (r605–562 BC),[2] the empire's second and greatest king.[3] Three daughters of Nebuchadnezzar are known; Kashshaya, Innin-etirat and Ba'u-asitu, but no cuneiform text explicitly mentions which daughter Neriglissar married.[4] Historian David B. Weisberg proposed in 1974 that Neriglissar's wife was Kashshaya, since her name appears together with the name of Nebuchadnezzar and Neriglissar in economic documents.[5] Though no concrete evidence exists, this identification has generally been accepted by subsequent historians, such as Donald Wiseman and Jona Lendering.[6][7]

Neriglissar was the son of a man by the name Bel-shum-ishkun[6] and might originally have been from the Aramean clan of the Puqudu, since Bel-shum-ishkun is recorded as originating in the Babylonian province of the same name.[5] According to the later Hellenistic-era Babylonian writer and astronomer Berossus,[5] Naboukhodonosoros (Nebuchadnezzar) died of sickness after a reign of 43 years and was succeeded by his son Euilmaradokhos (Amel-Marduk), who "ruled capriciously and had no regard for the laws". After ruling two years, Neriglassaros (Neriglissar) plotted against Amel-Marduk and had him deposed and killed.[8] If Berossus is to be believed, Neriglissar was the leader of this conspiracy. It is likely that the conflict between Amel-Marduk and Neriglissar was a case of inter-family discord rather than some other form of rivalry.[9] Neriglissar's claim to the throne likely came through his marriage to Nebuchadnezzar's daughter, who might have been significantly older than either of Nebuchadnezzar's sons (as she is attested significantly earlier in her father's reign).[4]


Neriglissar likely died in April 556 BC. The last known documents dated to Neriglissar's reign are a contract from 12 April 556 BC at Babylon and a contract from 16 April that same year at Uruk.[10] The Uruk King List (IM 65066, also known as King List 5), a record of rulers of Babylon from Shamash-shum-ukin (r668–648 BC) to the Seleucid king Seleucus II Callinicus (r246–225 BC),[11][12] accords Neriglissar a reign of three years and eight months, consistent with the possibility that Neriglissar died in April.[10]

Labashi-Marduk thus became king of Babylon, but his reign proved to be brief. Berossus erroneously gives Labashi-Marduk's reign as nine months (though it is possible that this is a scribal error) and states that Labashi-Marduk's "evil ways" led to his friends plotting against him, eventually resulting in the child king being beaten to death. The plotters then agreed that Nabonnedos (Nabonidus), one of the plotters, should rule.[8] The Uruk King List only gives Labashi-Marduk a reign of three months[10] and contract tablets from Babylonia suggest that he might have ruled as briefly as just two months.[8] By the end of June 556 BC, tablets dated to Nabonidus are known from across Babylonia.[10] Although Berossus refers to Labashi-Marduk as a child, it possible that he became king as an adult since commercial texts from two years earlier indicate that Labashi-Marduk was in charge of his own affairs at that time.[10]

The reason for the coup against Labashi-Marduk is unknown. It is possible that despite Labashi-Marduk and his father being well-connected and wealthy, they were ultimately seen as commoners, lacking noble blood.[7] Though Labashi-Marduk being the grandson of Nebuchadnezzar through his mother would have made him connected to the royal dynasty, it is also possible that he was the son of Neriglissar and another of his wives. Thus, Labashi-Marduk's rise to the throne might have signified a true break in the dynasty of Nebuchadnezzar and might as such have aroused opposition from the Babylonian populace.[13]


  1. ^ Stamm, Namengebung, 175
  2. ^ Wiseman 1983, p. 12.
  3. ^ Mark 2018.
  4. ^ a b Beaulieu 1998, p. 200.
  5. ^ a b c Beaulieu 1998, p. 199.
  6. ^ a b Wiseman 1991, p. 241.
  7. ^ a b Lendering 2006.
  8. ^ a b c Beaulieu 2006, p. 139.
  9. ^ Wiseman 1991, p. 242.
  10. ^ a b c d e Wiseman 1991, p. 243.
  11. ^ Oppenheim 1985, p. 533.
  12. ^ Lendering 2005.
  13. ^ Gruenthaner 1949, p. 409.


  • Beaulieu, Paul-Alain (1998). "Ba'u-asītu and Kaššaya, Daughters of Nebuchadnezzar II". Orientalia. 67 (2): 173–201. JSTOR 43076387.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Beaulieu, Paul-Alain (2006). "Berossus on Late Babylonian History". Special Issue of Oriental Studies. A Collection of Papers on Ancient Civilizations of Western Asia, Asia Minor and North Africa: 116–149.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Gruenthaner, Michael J. (1949). "The Last King of Babylon". The Catholic Biblical Quarterly. 11 (4): 406–427. JSTOR 43720153.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Oppenheim, A. Leo (2003) [1985]. "The Babylonian Evidence of Achaemenian Rule in Mesopotamia". In Gershevitch, Ilya (ed.). The Cambridge History of Iran: Volume 2: The Median and Achaemenian Periods. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-20091-1.
  • Wiseman, D. J. (1983). Nebuchadnezzar and Babylon. British Academy. ISBN 978-0197261002.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Wiseman, D. J. (2003) [1991]. "Babylonia 605–539 B.C.". In Boardman, John; Edwards, I. E. S.; Hammond, N. G. L.; Sollberger, E.; Walker, C. B. F. (eds.). The Cambridge Ancient History: III Part 2: The Assyrian and Babylonian Empires and Other States of the Near East, from the Eighth to the Sixth Centuries B.C. (2nd ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-22717-8.

Web sources[edit]

  • Lendering, Jona (2005). "Uruk King List". Livius. Retrieved 13 August 2020.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Lendering, Jona (2006). "Neriglissar". Livius. Retrieved 22 August 2020.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
  • Mark, Joshua J. (2018). "Nebuchadnezzar II". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 24 August 2020.CS1 maint: ref duplicates default (link)
Clan of the Puqudu
 Died: 556 BC
Preceded by
King of Babylon
556 BC
Succeeded by