Robert William Rogers.

A history of Babylonia and Assyria, Volume 1 online

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world. But when the whole history is surveyed,
aj3 in a panorama, the barbarism must be admit-
ted to prevail over the civilization and the total
impression to be less favorable than that which
the Babylonians make upon us.

Long after the Babylonians and Assyrians had
risen to power in the world the great valley came
to know another people who called themselves
Kaldu, and were Imown to the Hebrews as Kas-
dim, to the Greeks as Chaldaioi (xaXdaioi), from
whom we have called them Chaldeans. They
were undoubtedly Semites,^ for not only are
their names purely Semitic, but their religion,
manner of life, and adaptation to Semitic usages
all bear the same stamp as those of the Semitic
Babylonians. The origin of the Chaldeans is,

* Jensen has suggested that they were "Semitised Sumerians,'* and
Lehmann appears to agree with him (Lehmann, Shanuuhahumukin^
p. 173), but at best the opinion is merely a guess and has no direct
support in the inscriptions.

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like that of the Babylonians, lost in the past.
They also probably came out of the heart of
Arabia and settled first along the western shore
of the Persian Gulf, pushing gradually north-
ward until they held the country about the
mouths of the Tigris and Euphrates. From
that district they b^in the long series of incur-
sions which finally won for them the control of
Babylonia, and made them the heirs of the
Babylonian people in civilization and in empire.
In the beginning they were nomads and tillers of
the soil, but became men of the city and formed
little city kingdoms similar to those which had ex-
isted in the early days of Babylonian civiliza-
tion. The lines of their early development were,
however, more similar to those of the Assyrians
than to those of the Babylonians. They de-
veloped military prowess and founded a great
empire by the sword. Its extension toward the
west was marked by bloodshed and the destruc-
tion of ancient centers of civilization. But later
the objects of civilization were furthered by
them and their kings became patrons of learn-
ing. In this latter stage they are perhaps to be
regarded as having lost their national life and
character and as transformed by the Baby-
lonian civilization which they had conquered.

The Sumerians, the Babylonians, the Assyr-
ians, and the Chaldeans — these were the peoples
who wrought out the history here to be nar-
rated. Besides these there were many other

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lesser peoples who contributed to the movements
which are to be told, but their characterization
may best be left to the time of their appearance
in the narrative, as they were secondary rather
than primary actors in the great drama.

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The end of the day and the coming of dark-
ness meant much to man m early tunes, for
somethmg of dread, if not of tremulous fear,
must have been associated with the night. The
flight of time must first have been measured by
the passing of days. With the Babylonians day
began with the rising of the sun, so have the
classical writers unanimously reported to u&^
This may well have been the custom among the
conmion folk, but there seems to be evidence
enough to show that the Calendar as prepared
by the astronomers for public use began the
day with sunset. This must have graduaUy
supplanted the older method and come finally
into conMnon use, influencing other Oriental
peoples to the same practice.* For astronomical

1 *'Ipeum diem alii aliter obeervavere, Bat^ionii int^ duoe boUs
exortua." Pliny. Nat, Hitt. ii, 77 (79), (Tcubner ecL. Mayhoflf, i, p.
190 (1906).

"Babyionioe poiro aliter: a sole enim ezorto ad exortum eiuadem
incipientem id spatium unius did nomine uocare." Macrobius, Saturn
i, iii, 4. Teubner, ed., Eysaenhardt, p. 10 (1893), and in ahnoet the
same words also in (jellius, Noct, AtL iii, ii, 6. Teubner, ed. Herts, i,
p. 147 (1903).

* It is interesting to note that the early Hebrews would appear to
have counted the day from sunrise to sunset, with the nii^t as a sort
of appendage to it. In post-exilic times, however, the day was reckoned
as beginning at sunset. See Lev. xxiii, 32, and compare the enumer-
ation of evening and morning in the priest code. Gen. i, 5, 8, 13.


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purposes, as distinct from popular, the sunset
was not a good time from which to reckon time
in the study of the heavenly bodies. The as-
tronomers, therefore, began their day with mid-
night,^ and the space of time from midnight to
midnight was divided, according to the sexa-
gesimal system, into six portions. Each one of
these portions was divided into sixty portions,
and each of these latter was again subdivided
into sixty portions.

This was the orderly astronomical method of
time division as generally practised in Baby-
lonia and Assyria from the sixth century B. C.
and onwards.^ Unfortimately, we do not know
the names of these divisions of time as used by
the Babylonian astronomers, but their import
and bearing are clear enough. Each of these
astronomical hours would correspond to four of
our hours, and one sixtieth of one of these would
correspond to four minutes in our reckoning.

This astronomical method seems not to have
been in popular use, for the conMnon everyday
custom among the Babylonians divided the day
into six MrUy each of which would correspond to

1 Though modem astronomers, following the example of Ptolemy,
reckon from midday.

' It is not here asserted that this method is not older. It may well
be much older. It is only implied that we have abundant evidence
of it at least that early. It seems to me, however, that the attempt
to carry astronomical knowledge of a scientific character beyond the
sixth century has failed. See, however. Jeremias, Daa Alter der babth
kmischen A$tnmomie 2te Auf . 1909, but compare Kugler, Anf den TrUm-
mem dee PanbabylonismuB^ Anthropos, 1909, p. 477, ff., and see further
Jeremias, Handbuch der altorientalischen Geialee Kultur, chapter V.

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two of our hourS; the night bemg also so divided
into six Mtv} or double hours.

The days were gathered into weeks of seven
days, and into months of thuiiy days, and the
twelve months into a Moon year of three hun-
dred and sixty days. Very early must have
been the efforts to relate this year to the Sun
year, and that equation gave much trouble and
concern during many centuries, and was now
accomplished in one way and now in another.
It was quite natural that in a hot country the
moon should be held in great reverence and its
phases carefully observed and studied. In the
hot seasons much work could be more com-
fortably accomplished by moonlight than be-
neath the desolating rays of the sun. The
appearance of the new moon after dark nights
would be a welcome sight, with its promise of
the glories of full moon later to follow. The
Babylonians soon learned that the lunar month
contains, not thuiiy days with undeviating regu-
larity, but now twenty-nine and now thirty, and
that the moon year contained three hundred
and fifty-four or three hundred and fifty-five
days. The moon year was early seen to be
shorter than the sun year, and the attempt

>btni is ideographically written kas-pu which is to be read btru,
M Landsberger has shown. (Zeiiachrift fOr Assyriolooie XXV, 885,
886.) Ab a measure of time it signifies two hours, as a measure d
length it signifies the distance that may be covered in two hours' travel,
about six or seven miles. For a curious use of it in this latter sense
see the story of Ellil and the Labbu (Rogers, Cuneifonn Pomfieb,
p. 61, f.).

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somehow to bring order out of this dissonance
had already begun in Sumerian times. The
attempts were failures quite as a matter of
coiu*se, for even a gross and crude equalization
would require hundreds of years of exact obser-
vation of the heavenly bodies. It is well to
remind ourselves when we are willing either to
exaggerate the knowledge of the ancients, as the
manner of some is, or, on the other hand, to
disparage their efforts, that this most desirable
equalization is only most clumsily achieved even
yet by the use of months having twenty-eight,
twenty-nine, thirty, and even thirty-one days,
and by the crude device of leap years. At
present the mean synodical month, that is, the
month from new moon to new moon, or from
full moon to full moon, contains 29.53059 days,
and the sun year has 365.24220 days. We need
bring no railing accusation against Sumerians,
Babylonians, or Assyrians that they did not
solve the pretty problem which these interesting
figures present.

In the earliest Sumerian period known to us,
the Sargonic era, the months of the year were
named and arranged according to the following

1. Itu ezen Gan-maS.

2. Itu ezen gAR-RA-NE-SAR-SAR.

3. Itu ezen (dingir) ne-su.

4. Itu ezen §u-kul.
6. Itu ezen dim-ku.

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6. Itu ezen (dingir) Dumu-zi.

7. Itu xjr.

8. Itu ezen (dingir) Bau.

9. Itu mu-Su-gab.

10. Itu mes-en-du-Se-a-na.

11. Itu ezen Amar-a(-a) si.

12. Itu Se-Se-kin-a.

13. Itu ezen §e-il-la.^

Some of these names are still of very doubtful
interpretation, but fortunately there is no need
here to dispute about the meaning of obscure
Sumerian words; it will be sufficient to indicate
those that may be regarded as established and
to show the general bearing of the list upon
human civilization. The beginning of this year
was set in the autumn, and corresponded to the
period of the ripening of the ears, as was also
the case in pre-exilic times among the Hebrews.
This was the time when the harvests had been
gathered in and the autumn rains were pre-
paring the ground for a new plowing.* This
was the natural beginning of the economic year.
In this month of Gan-maS occurred the Su-

> For the namee ftnd order of the months compare Thureau-Dangm,
Remie (TAssyr, vol. iv, No. iii, p. 83» f.; Rad&u, Etwly Babylonian Hi9-
tory, p. 287 and the review of the same by Thureau-Dangin, Zeitadirift
/Or Assyriologie, tv, p. 409; H. de Genouillao, TableUm nanSriennei
archalques, p. zvii, f.; F. K. Kufi^er, Zeitachrift fOr Aasyrioloffie, zxii,
p. 68, f . ; Stephen Langdon, Tablets from the Archives of Drehem^ p. 6, f .

*For the pre-exdlio order of the months of the yeai, compare the
feast of the ingathering which took place at "the outgoing of the year,"
b&9dth haSfianah (Ex. xxiii, 16), or at "the 3rear*8 revolution" tSkiiphath
hafiSanah (Ex. xxxiv, 22). Here was quite clearly a new ye9r'8 beginning,
if there was an "outgoing," that is, of the old year.

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merian festival of Zag-mu, the' head of the year,
a feast which goes back to the earliest times.^
The month corresponded to August of our cal-
endar and its name, Gan-ma§, probably relates
to the practice of reckoning up of the produce
of the fields, and the arranging of the plans for
the next sowing.^ The next month, Har-ra-ne-
sar-sar, is "the month when the cattle labor.''*
that is, the month of plowing.

The sixth month, Dumu-zi, is the month of
the feast of Tammuz, called at Nippur the
month of the mission of Innini or Ishtar, and
both of these names are associated with the
myth of Ishtar's descent to Hades, and the
return of Tammuz from the lower world after her
descent. This is the feast of the return of the
Sim after the darkness of winter, when the days
begin to lengthen, and is, therefore, a spring
festival. There were in early Sumerian times
two New Year's festivals, the one of the eco-
nomic year in the autumn, the other of the solar
year in the spring. This month is in the Ur
dynasty, called itu Akitu, the month of the feast
of the New Year.

* See Genouillac, TableUes tumSriennes archaiquea, p. xvii, who would,
however, locate this festival in the spring. Langdon, TableU from the
Archives of Drehem, p. 7, has oorrectly made this an autumn month
in period of the Ur dynasty.

* Radau's suggested meaning for gan-maI^, "field in blossom/' seems
quite clearly wrong, and Langdon*s meaning, "a kind of food appor-
tioned out to attendants of the king, etc." improbable.

*So Genouillac, op. eit., p. zix, and also Kugler and Langdon. See
further Boissicr, Le nom assyrien du soc do la charrue, OrierUalitHache
Literalur Zcitung (1908), col. 300, f.

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The seventh month, called Itu Ur m the Sar^
gonic period, is named m the period of Ur Itu
EZEN DiNGiR DuN-Gi, that is, the month of the
feast of the god Dungi, the month havmg its
name changed after the deification of King

The eighth month is the month of the feast of
the goddess Bau in the Sargonic period, but by
the time of Gudea this feast was regarded as the
beginning of the New Year, and in the neo-
Babylonian period was identified with the zag-
MU or New Year's feast.

The ninth month was the month of the feast
of Anu, and in the period of Sargon this was the
intercalary month, used to bring the lunar year
up again with the solar. This was determined
by the barley harvest, which should properly
fall in the month ^Se-kin-a. If it did not in
any year, the intercalary month was introduced
in the following year.^

As we come downward from the Sargonic
period we find numerous evidences of the giving
of other names to many of these months, as also
of the gradual shifting of the seasons, and so of
the introduction of more than one intercalary
month when this became necessary to retrieve
the annual loss of time made by the lunar year
in comparison with the solar.

When the Semitic Babylonian tongue had sup-
planted Sumerian as the language of the people

* See Kugler, ZeiUchrift /Ur Assyriologiet izii, pp. 09, 70.

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in general the Sumerian names of the months
were supplanted by Semitic and the year began
with the vernal equinox, yet continued to bear,
as we shall see, in the name of one of its months
the evidence that it also had once had a begui-
ning of a New Year at the time of the autimm
ingathering. The Semitic names of the months,
with the names also of the gods to whom they
were dedicated, are these:

Ntsftnu of Anu and EUiL

Aru of Ea, lord of men.

Sim&nu of Sin, first son of EUil.

Du'ilsu of the hero Ninib.

Abu of Ningishzida, lord of ju8tioe(7).

UliUu of Ishtar, queen [of battle(?)].

Tashritu of the hero Shamash.

Arakhsamnu of the wise one of the gods, Marduk.

Kislimmu of the great hero Nergal.

Teb^tu of Papsukal, vizier of Anu and Ishtar.

Shabatu of Adad, govemor(7) of heaven and earth.

Add&ru of the seven gods, of the great gods.

Second Add&ru of Ashur, father of the gods.

As in the case of the Sumerian months, so also
in this, are there uncertainties still in the ex-
planation of the names of some of the months,
but in this case we know even better than the
other the significance and adjustment of the
whole. Light is cast upon it by the use of it
among the Jews. They had had a calendar
with the New Year in the autumn, as we have
already seen, with the months named according
to ancient Canaanite models, Abib,^ the month

M&tb, Exodus idii, 4; Ziv, 1 Kings vi. 1; Ethanim viii, 2; Bui, 1
Kings vi, 38. The other early names have perished.

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of ripening ears, which subsequently became the
first month; Zib, the month of flowers, later the
second month; Ethanim, the month of perennial
streams, afterward the seventh month; and Bui,
the month of rain. These were abandoned and
the months were distinguished by numerals in
the exilic period, and after that these Assyro-
Babylonian names were adopted, and though
only seven of them appear in the Old Testament,
all are found in the Mishna.^

The name of the first month, Nisanu, is
connected with the root meaning to move or
start and corresponds to March-April, and is
the opening month of the ecclesiastical year.
Tashritu, which signifies "beginning, inaugura-
tion," was the first month of the civil year, as
was Tishri among the Jews, both peoples
having two New Year's celebrations in ancient
times. In modem times the Jewish year has
its beginning in Tishri, and the month of
Nisan is given over to the great feast of the
Passover. In the calendar of the Seleucidae
Nisan was the month of the year's beginning,
but in the Arsacidan calendar Tishri was the
first month.* The diflferences are worth noting

1 The seven which appear in the O. T. are Niaan, Neh. ii, i; Esther tii,
7; 5uwm Est. viii. 0; Ehd, Neh. vi. 16; JTisfcp, Zech. vfi, 1. Neh. i, 1;
Tebeth, Est ii, 16; SMbat I 7; Adar, Est. passim, Esr. yi, 15. AH of
them are found in MegQlath Ta'anith, which was begun before the
Christian era, though it has additions as late certainly as the second
century A. D., as, for example, the mention of Hadrian's persecution.

'Epping, Aatronomiaehes au9 Babyfian^ p. 177. Compare F. K.
Giniel, Bandbudi der malhemaHschen und techniaehen Chronologie, i,
p. 136, f.

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as an evidence of the curious changes to which
the calendar has been subjected from Sumerian
to modem times.

As the centuries passed onward astronomical
knowledge increased, and from the sixth to
the third centuries the progress was increasingly
rapid. To the people the year remained a
lunar year, but to the astronomers the solar
year had become the normal means of reckon-
ing. In the third century they had arrived
at a most close approximation of its true length/
and their other astronomical knowledge has at-
tained the respectable dimensions of an embryo

The brief survey of the calendar will, how-
ever, have taught us how difficult were the
problems of time relation which confronted
these ancient peoples, and when we realize how
fragmentary in many respects was their knowl-
edge, we shall not approach with too high hopes
the study of the materials which they have left.
We shall not expect their chronological systems
to be scientific in the modem sense.

Unlike the Egyptians, both the Assyrians and
Babylonians, but especially the latter, gave much
attention to chronology, seeking in a number of
different ways to preserve the order of events and
to constract a backbone for their historical recol-
lections. The chronological material thus pro-

1 They had made out the length of the sidereal solar 3rear to be 366
days, 6 hours, 13 minutes, and 43 seconds, which differs only by 4 minutes
and 30 seconds from that of modem astronomers.

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duced must have been very extensive, for the
portions which have come down to us are silent
witnesses of the yet unrecovered or totally de-
stroyed materials of which they were but frag-
ments. Our chronology of the history of these
people must be based primarily upon their own
chronological materials, but from certain of the
Greek writers useful material is secured. All
this material may here be grouped in order,
accompanied by notes upon its value and use,
as sources for chronology.

A. — ^Babylonian and Assyrian Monuments

I. Babylonian Chronological Malerials. The
Babylonian priests, historiographers and chron-
ographers have left us an enormous mass (A
chronological materials, all now in a fragmentary
state, but showing clearly how much importance
was attached by them to the arrangement of
historical facts in due order of time. These
original sources may thus be arranged:

1. The Babylonian King List A. A brief list
of the names of the kings of several Babylonian
dynasties, now badly broken, with many names
missing. By the side of each king's name is
given the number of years of his reign, and at the
end of each djrnasty also a summation of the
years of reign of all the kings of that djmasty.
It contains, as now preserved, portions of four
columns, and begins with the summation of the
number of kings of the first dynasty of Babylon.

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The first name on the list is that of Iluma-ilu,
the first king of the second dynasty of Babylon,
whom we know to have been contemporaneous
with Samsu-iluna and Abeshu, the seventh and
eighth kings of the first dynasty. The last
name is that of Kandalanu. The list was com-
piled and written out in the neo-Babylonian or
Chaldean period.^

2. The Babylonian King List B. A list of
Babylonian kings, containing the names and
years of reign of the kings of the first and second
dynasties, with the years of reign of each one,
and also the sununation as before.^ This sup-
plements £jng List A by supplying the names
of the eleven kings of the first dynasty, repeat-
ing also the names of the kings of the second
dynasty, but without the number of years of
reign of each one.

These two £jng Lists formed the foundation
of modem study of the chronology of early
Babylonia. It has now become evident that
they were modeled upon ancient Sumerian king
lists, for since their discovery there have been

■, * Theoe two King Lists have been repeatedly copied, collated, and
verified. The chief literature upon them is as follows: (a) ProeeedingM
€f the Society of BibluxU Arehaohgy, 1884, pp. 193-204 (Pinches), (b)
SiUunoiberiehU der Bed. Ak, der WiaeoMduiftm, 1887, pp. 679-607
(Sohrader). (c) AetyriBche Oebele an den SannengoUf I u. II, Leipzig,
1804 (Knudtion). (d) Proceedinga of the Society of BiMioal Arthcwlotfy,
1888, pp. 22, ff. (Pinches), (e) KeUinechrifaiche BMiothek, Berlin,
1800, vol. ii, pp. 286, ff. (Sohrader). (0 Ztoei HaupiprdbUme der aUor-
ientaliedten Chrondooie und ihre LOauno, Leipsig, 1^98 (Lehmann).
(g) They are now accessible in Rogers, Caneifofm ParatteU, pp. 201,

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found Sumerian lists of precisely the same char-
acter and these may here be described.

3. The Sumerian King lAst I. A list of kings
beginning with (a) Un-zi, the first king of the
dynasty of Upi (Opis), and giving the names of
the six kings of this dynasty; and continuing
with (b) the eight kings of the dynasty of Kish
from Azag-Bau to Nani-zah: the summation
given at the end of (b) after the name of Nani-
zah is 586 years for the eight kings^and the
length of the reign of the first queen, Azag-Bau,
is set down as 100 years. These two figures
must surely be wrong. A reign of one himdred
years is improbable, and even if this were true,
the total niunber of years of the dynasty would
amount to but 192 years, and the number 586
must surely be wrong. The errors are quite
probably these. The numeral 100 in the
Sumerian script very closely approaches in
appearance the numeral 14. If this be the case
the niunber of years to be assigned the dynasty
would be 106 instead of 586.^ Now it happens
that the numerals 8 for the number of kings and
106 for the years of their reign, could very
easily be confused mto 586 in the Sumerian
script. With these two emendations the list
becomes quite usable for the chronological recon-
struction of the early dynasties, (c) Lugal-
zaggisi, king of Uruk; (d) the dynasty of Agade
from Sharru-kin (Sargon I) to Shudurkib twelve

> So Arno Poebel, OrientalitHsche lAUeraJturzeiiung, 1912, col. 289, f.

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kings; (e) the dynasty of Umk (Erech) from
Ur-nigin to Ur-Shamash five kings. The tablet
therefore contained the names of thirty-two
kings, but four have been lost from the dynasty
of Agade. At the end of each dynasty is given
a summation of the number of kings in the
dynasty, and the total of all the years of reign.
After each dynasty is also given the name of
the succeeding one, a point of great value. No
statement is made as to whether there was any
time between the close of one and the beginning
of another dynasty, which in some cases, at
least, is surely probable. It is therefore not
possible to add aJl these dynasties together and
so arrive at a sure date for the beginning by
reckoning backward. There may have been no
years between any two dynasties, and on the
other hand there may have been dead years
and the niunber of them be unknown to us.

This interesting and important tablet was
probably composed at Kish (Oheimer) and in
the period of Hammurapi.^

4. The Sumerian King List II. A list of
kings beginning with Ur-Engur of the djniasty

Online LibraryRobert William RogersA history of Babylonia and Assyria, Volume 1 → online text (page 31 of 36)