CHAPTER 5

Babylonian Synchronisms with Assyria

The Accuraccy of the Reconstructed AKL based on Babylonian Synchronisms
When we compare the reconstructed Assyrian chronology against the Babylonian synchronisms contained in documents such as the so-called Synchronistic History and Chronicle P we can observe a excellent match. The Synchronistic History is essentially an Assyrian account of Assyrian/Babylonian relations from the time of Puzur-Ashur III to the reign of Adad-nirari III (810-783 BC). It appears likely that the author of this document had access to, and made extensive use of, the inscriptions of Assyrian kings as many verbal passages are very similar to those used by Tiglath-pileser I, Shalmaneser III and Shamshi-Adad IV. Because the Synchronistic History clearly displays a pro-Assyrian bias, and the fact that no extant, direct Assyrian/Babylonian relations are known to us from sources other than the Synchronstic History, the historical claims and inferences in this document should be treated with caution.

On the other hand, Chronicle P (named after the first editor of the text T.G. Pinches) covers significant events during the period of Kassite dominance in Babylon. Chronicle P was written sometime after the death of Adad-nirari III and is therefore historically later than the Synchronistic History. The first portion of this document is, unfortunately, no longer extant in any of the three versions of this document so far uncovered. The earliest king mentioned is Karduniash, the father of Kadashman-Harbe. The compiler of this document certainly appears to display a much more unprejudiced account of Babylonian/Assyrian synchronisms than his Assyrian counterpart, the compiler of the Synchronistic History. We can infer this from his mention of four Babylonian military reversals, two of which were due to their fierce rivals, the Assyrians.

As certain differences appear in these documents regarding historical events and with contrary names provided for particular kings, most commentators have favoured the version of events outlined by Chronicle P due to its apparently honest account. However, as it appears that Chronicle P was compiled after the Synchronistic History there is a chance that the latter was used as a draft or even that both were copied from another, earlier source. Ths would therefore allow the possibility of scribal errors creeping into the text during the process of redaction. This is an important point as two major discrepancies are evident between both accounts. These concern the circumstances in Babylon immediately after Ashur-uballit I went to Karduniash to avenge the murder of Karahardash (Synchronistic History i, 8-12) or Kadashman-Harbe (Chronicle P i, 5-11), replacing Nazi-bugash (Synchronistic History) or Shuzigash (Chronicle P), who had been placed on the throne by the Kassites, with Kurigalzu the younger, son of Burna-buriash (Synchronistic History) or [Kurigalzu, son of Ka]dashman-Harbe (Chronicle P).

The second major inconsistency between the Synchronistic History and Chronicle P concerns the Assyrian king who fought Kurigalzu III at Sugaga. The Synchronistic History (i, 13-17) gives his name as Enlil-nirari whereas Chronicle P provides the name of Adad-nirari (iii, 20-22) for this same king. Again, it is impossible to say at present which version is correct. These problems are, at the moment, insurmountable due to the lack of external evidence available to us. But, although the Synchronistic History does seem to alter the outcome of historical events to Assyria's favour in some cases there would appear to be no obvious reason for altering the names of those personages concerned. On the contrary, if the names where to be changed why bother to alter the outcome of the battles at all, why not just make them up as well? It would appear more likely that any changes of this nature must be due to the ineptitude of the scribes concerned rather than being purposely designed. It does have to be said, however, that the Synchronistic History has also made errors in the transmission of names in three other cases, e.g. Tiglath Pileser (i, 14), Marduk-shapik-zeri (i, 26) and Nabu-shuma-ukin (iii, 9).

Clayden (1992, 154) states that during the fourteenth-century BC the Kassite kings of Babylon "were among the pre-eminant rulers in the Near East and were treated as equals by the pharaohs of Egypt". During this period of Kassite domination in Babylon we have numerous historical synchronisms with external regions. Furthermore, we have a number of later 'fixed points' between the Babylonian King List (BKL) and the AKL which allows us an extremely accurate set of synchronisms between the sack of Babylon by Tukulti-Ninurta I (Synchronistic History ii, 1) and the subsequent deposing of Kashtiliash III (who was replaced by governors who received their positions from Tukulti-Ninurta I) and the deposing of Marduk-nadin-ahhe in Year 32 of Tiglath-pileser I (Synchronistic History ii, 14-24). This latter can be fixed at 1088 BC on the basis of the exceptionally high quality chronological data we find in the Ptolemaic Canon and the Eponym lists leaving the process of retrocalculation a relativly simple matter. From these we can count back through the regnal data provided by the BKL to place Kashtiliash's defeat at the hands of Tukulti-Ninurta I at 1319 BC.

We can confirm this date through the statement in Chronicle P (iv, 12) which states that at the time of Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur the statue of Marduk returned to Babylon after an Assyrian exile of [x]+6 years. As we know the statue of Marduk was removed by Tukulti-Ninurta I, the timespan [x]+6 years calculated back from the (fortunately) single year reign of Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur should give us the exact date Tukulti-Ninurta I defeated Kashtiliash III and removed Marduk to Assyria as booty. The obvious dfficulty is the value of [x]. This has realistically to equate to either 80, 90 or 100 years thus making the statement refer to 86, 96, or 106 years as separating Kashtiliash III and Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur. Whenever we look at when Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur's single year reign fell we see that it was 1134 BC. Through simple addition of the reign lengths we have for the Babylonian kings reigning between the Tiglath-pileser I Year 32 and Marduk-nadin-ahhe I Year 18 synchronism (Neumann and Parpola 1987) we arrive at a date of 1230 BC for the defeat of Kashtiliash III by Tukulti-Ninurta I, the sacking of Babylon, and the removal of the statue of Marduk to Assyria. This fits perfectly if the missing numeral in Chronicle P represents 90 as precisely 96 years separate Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur from the final year of Kashtiliash III based on the independently reconstructed Assyrian chronology outlined in the previous chapter calculated alongside the extant reign lengths from the BKL.

Unfortunately the lack of regnal dates in other inscriptions does not allow us similar precision with further synchronisms. Instead we have to content ourselves with approximations. As the only extant Babylonian reign lengths start with the reign of Kurigalzu III (1343-1319 BC) we can only usefully provide synchronisms between Babylon and Ashur from this time. This is very regretable but unfortunately unavoidable. Nevertheless it will at least allow enough correlations between these regions to underline the accuracy of the reconstructed Assyrian chronology back to this point. We can also observe correlations between Assyrian and Babylonian kings before Kurigalzu III always remembering that there are no regnal dates provided by the BKL for Babylonian kings before this time and that any apparent synchronisms, therefore, are only that until more data becomes available.

Assyrian/Babylonian Synchronisms
Of the Babylonian kings which have their reign lengths recorded in the BKL, the earliest synchronism in the sequence is that between Kurigalzu III and Enlil-nirari (Synchronistic History i, 18-23; although Chronicle P iii, 20-22 gives the name as Adad-nirari). According to the revised chronological sequence of the AKL Enlil-nirari ruled Assyria for ten years between 1329-1320 BC and the BKL places the reign of Kurigalzu III at 1343-1319 BC. As can be seen there is ample time for Kurigalzu to communicate with Enlil-nirari during his 25 year reign. One major difficulty faced by chronologists is the apparent Kurigalzu III (1343-1319 BC) correlation with Adad-nirari I (1307-1276 BC) stated in Chronicle P. This synchronism simply cannot exist according to any sensible chronology. The Assyrian succession cannot be this far out of synchronisation, it would have to be raised by at least 13 years to allow Kurigalzu III to battle with Adad-nirari I. This would upset the Assyrian timespan statements outlined in the previous chapter and nullify the reign length statements contained in the Khorsabad and Nassouhi king lists to such an extent that they would be rendered worthless.

Equally difficult would be the lowering of Babylonian chronology in light of the statement (Chronicle P iv, 12) that [x]+6 years elapsed between Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur and the removal of the statue of Marduk from Babylon as this gives us the date of Kashtiliash's death. (Although [x] can be restored a number of ways it must be in whole ten units; i.e. realistically 80, 90 or 100 years.) The presently suggested date of 1230 BC as the death of Kashtiliash III fits exactly with a restoration of 90 years for[x]. If we were to lower this to 70 years, for example, therefore giving 76 years (i.e. [70]+6) which is the least we could realistically allow in order to synchronise Kurigalzu III and Adad-nirari I at the Battle of Sugaga, we would then have to subtract twenty years from the AKL as well as the BKL in order to pull Adad-nirari's reign back this far to achieve the correlation. There is no evidence whatsoever suggesting that the AKL contains these additional twenty years. Moreover, as the death of Kashtiliash III is relatively fixed, these supposed additional years cannot be placed arbitrarily but must fall between the death of Kurigalzu III and the death of Kashtiliash III. A better proposition would be that both references belong to the same incident but that Chronicle P contains a scribal error where 'Adad' has been used instead of the correct 'Enlil'. After all, it is very unlikely that exactly the same circumstances occurred at the same place between the same Babylonian king and two different Assyrian counterparts. It is therefore suggested that only the Synchronistic History version of the Kurigalzu III/Enlil-nirari Battle of Sugaga actually took place with the same event being erroneously ascribed to Adad-nirari I by the compiler of the later Chronicle P. This would then appear to disallow the apparent Adad-nirari I/Kurigalzu III synchronism.

Another well known Assyrian/Babylonian correlation provided by the Synchronistic History (i, 24-31) is Nazi-marutash (1318-1293 BC), the successor of Kurigalzu III, with Adad-nirari I (1307-1276 BC), the Assyrian king just discussed above. Again, there is plenty of scope for communications to occur between these kings and the synchronism is likely. The Tukulti-Ninurta I (1245-1209 BC) battle with Kashtiliash III (1237-1230 BC) when Babylon fell to the Assyrians and the statue of Marduk was removed to Ashur (Synchronistic History ii, 1-2; where the name of Tukulti-Ninurta I has been confidently restored) has already been briefly touched on above. Moreover, Tukulti-Ninurta I was also likely to have been in contact with Kashtiliash's father, and predecessor, Shagarakti-suriash (1250-1238 BC) on the strength of a seal of Shagarakti-suriash which had been reinscribed by Tukulti-Ninurta I (Lukenbill 1927). This synchronism has eight years of overlap during which the letter could have been written according to the chronology of the revised AKL and BKL presented in this thesis. After the death of Kashtiliash III, Tukulti-Ninurta I placed Adad-shuma-usur (1221-1192 BC) on the throne of Babylon (Chronicle P iv, 7-9) and this is again theoretically possible.

Enlil-kurdur-usur (1198-1194 BC), king of Assyria, fought against Adad-shuma-usur (1221-1192 BC) and Ninurta-apil-Ekur (1193-1181 BC) and that this battle marked the transition in Assyrian rule between Enlil-kurdur-usur and Ninurta-apil-Ekur is not at issue. Moreover, it has also been suggested that the same battle marked the end of the reign of Adad-shuma-usur. However, the text in question (Synchronistic History ii, 3-8) only states (after heavy restoration) that Adad-shuma-usur "turned and went back to his country" (i.e. Babylon), it does not say he died. As we can see, the assumed death of Adad-shuma-usur and this events corelation with the Enlil-kurdur-usur/Ninurta-apil-Ekur throne transition is not in agreement with textual evidence. This particular view has already been suggested by Tadmor (1958, 131-132) and is in perfect agreement with the Assyrian and Babylonian chronologies presented here (see Table 5 and Tables 6a, 6b and 6c).

The next Kassite synchronism (Synchronistic History ii, 9-12) with Assyria is Zebaba-shema-idina (1163 BC) and Ashur-Dan I (1180-1135 BC) which again is easily possible with the evidence available as is the Nebuchadnezzar I (1127-1106 BC) battle for the fortress of Isi with Ashur-resha-ishi (1133-1116 BC) mentioned in the Synchronistic History (ii, 1-13) just after a lacuna. The Marduk-nadin-ahhe I and Tiglath-pileser I battle has already been outlined above and the conclusion remains valid. These last two synchronisms bring us beyond the Kassite Dynasty at Babylon and into the Second Isin Dynasty but they are viewed as significant enough to warrant inclusion. As Year 32 of Tiglath-pileser I marks the death/desposing of Marduk-nadin-ahhe in Year 18, it forms a most important chronological linchpin between Assyrian and Babylonian history.

A review of the synchronisms provided by the Babylonian Synchronistic History and (to a lesser extent) Chronicle P, certainly suggest that the reconstructed chronologies of Assyria (Table 5) and Babylonia (Tables 6a, 6b and 6c) do indeed justify serious consideration. It must be emphasised that many correlations do have room for manoeuvre in each case (as regnal years are unfortunately omitted) but it is hoped that the relatively large number of certain associations cuts down on possible 'error limits'. In other words, all correlations have to be viewed as one whole, and, if just one of these individual synchronisms does not fit, they all have to be looked upon as suspect. However, this is not the case and agreement is universal between all synchronisms presented here. The only difficulties concern Babylonian succession after Ashur-uballit I and whether Adad-nirari or Enlil-nirari fought with Kurigalzu III at Sugaga but these problems have to be faced by any chronology forwarded as they are matters of direct contradiction regarding the source material. Nevertheless, in the first case, it is only a matter of deciding upon the actual names of the kings concerned as the historicity between both accounts is in general agreement and there is no chronological difficulty involved. In the second case, we must put the Adad-nirari/Enlil-nirari duplicate down to a scribal error on the part of one author, unfortunately we have no way of precisely knowing which one is correct although every chronology for the period would favour Enlil-nirari as the correct reading, this one included.

THE RECONSTRUCTED BABYLONIAN KING LIST

TABLE 6a: THE FIRST BABYLONIAN DYNASTY

No
King
Reign Length
Dates
1
Sumu-abum
13
1849-1837
2
Samulael
36
1836-1801
3
Sabium
14
1800-1787
4
Apil-Sin
18
1786-1769
5
Sin-muballit
20
1768-1749
6
Hammurabi
43
1748-1706
7
Samsu-iluna
37
1705-1669
8
Abi-eshuh
28
1668-1641
9
Ammi-ditana
37
1640-1604
10
Ammi-saduqa
21
1603-1583
11
Samsu-ditana                  
31
1582-1552

TABLE 6b: THE KASSITE DYNASTY

No
King
Reign Length
Dates
1
Gandash
?
1676-
2
Agum I
?
3
Kashtiliash I
?
4
USH-SHI A-shi
?
5
A-bi-rat-tash
?
6
UR-zi-U-mash
?
7
Ti-ip-ta-ak-zi
?
8
Harba[-shi-]hu
?
9
Agum II
?
1551-
10
Burna-buriash I
?
11
Kurigalzu I
?
12
Meli-shihu I
?
13
Burna-buriash II
?
14
Kashtiliash II
?
15
Agum III
?
16
Karaindash
?
17
Kadashman-Harbe I
?
18
Kurigalzu II
?
19
Kadashman-Enlil I
?
20
Burna-buriash III
?
21
Karahardash
?
22
Kurigalzu III
25
1343-1319
23
Nazi-murutash
26
1318-1293
24
Kadashman-Turgu
18
1292-1275
25
Kadashman-Enlil II
15
1274-1260
26
Kurdur-Enlil
9
1259-1251
27
Shagarakti-shuriash
13
1250-1238
28
Kashtiliash III
8
1237-1230
29
Enlil-nadin-shumi*
1 1/2
1229
30
Kadashman-Harbe II*
1 1/2
1228
31
Adad-shuma-idina*
6
1227-1222
32
Adad-shuma-usur
30
1221-1192
33
Meli-shihu II
15
1191-1177
34
Marduk-apla-idina
13
1176-1164
35
Zababa-shum-idina
1
1163
36
Enlil-nadin-ahhe
3
1162-1160

* The order of throne succession is too precise, especially regarding the correlations between Tiglath-pileser I Year 32/Marduk-nadin-ahhe Year 18 and Ninurta-tukulti-Ashur/Kashtiliash III for Tukulti-Ninurta I regnal years to have been included in the BKL. It appears from the evidence, and the fact that he received no Kassite king number in the BKL, that his seven-year reign must refer to his three appointed governors.

TABLE 6c: THE SECOND ISIN DYNASTY

No
King
Reign Length
Dates
1
Marduk-kabit-aheshu
18
1159-1142
2
Itti-Marduk-balatu
8
1141-1134
3
Ninurta-nadin-shumi
6
1133-1128
4
Nebuchadnezzer I
22
1127-1106
5
Enlil-nadin-apli
4
1105-1102
6
Marduk-nadin-ahhe
18
1101-1084
7
Marduk-shapik-zeri
13
1083-1071
8
Adad-apla-idina
22
1070-1049
9
Marduk-ahhe-eriba
1
1048
10
Marduk-zer-[x]
12
1047-1036
11
Nabu-shuma-libur
8
1035-1028



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