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Babylonian List of Kings

DynastyRulersold datesKingdomcurrent
1st Dynasty2232 BC1927 BC Amorite
[Old Babylon]
1894 BC1595 BC
2nd Dynasty111927 BC1757 BC 1595 BC1530 BC
3rd Dynasty361757 BC1180 BC Kassite1530 BC1155 BC
4th Dynasty1180 BC1046 BC Isin1157 BC1026 BC
5th Dynasty31046 BC1024 BC Sealand1025 BC1005 BC
6th Dynasty31024 BC1003 BC Bazi1004 BC985 BC
7th Dynasty1003 BC996 BC Elam984 BC979 BC
8th Dynasty996 BC815 BC 978 BC732 BC
9th DynastyAssyrian 731 BC626 BC

All the schemes of Babylonian chronology that were suggested during the early 20th Century were based mainly on the great List of Kings which is preserved in the British Museum. This document was drawn up in the Neo-Babylonian or Persian period, and when complete it gave a list of the names of all the Babylonian kings from the First Dynasty of Babylon down to the time in which it was written. The names of the kings are arranged in dynasties, and details are given as to the length of their reigns and the total number of years each dynasty lasted. The beginning of the list which gave the names of the First Dynasty is wanting, but the missing portion has been restored from a smaller document which gives a list of the kings of the First and Second Dynasties only. In the great list of kings the dynasties are arranged one after the other, and it was obvious that its compiler imagined that they succeeded one another in the order in which he arranged them.

The List of Kings gave originally the names of more than one hundred and twenty Babylonian, monarchs, arranged in nine dynasties, with the length of reign of each king. The main tablet is mutilated, so that barely half of these names are now left, but some gaps can be supplied ; each dynasty is generally summarized at the end, and the summary includes both the number of kings and the number of years covered by the dynasty. Internal evidence, combined with other monumental data and with the Canon of Ptolemy, makes it certain that most and probable that all of these dynasties were consecutive, and at the same time gives every indication of the trustworthiness of the list. This provides the framework of a history of Babylonia for at least fifteen hundred years. Only the breaks in the tablet, and the lack of a statement of the number oi years in two of the longer dynasties, prevent being much more precise. The end of the list is gone. The last ruler whose name is legible is Kan-tal [Assurbanipal - Sardanapalus), who began to reign (Ptolemy) BC 647. Pinches assigns to Sumu-abi, the first king named in the emended list, the date of BC 2232. More recent scholarship assigns the dates 1894-1881 BC to his reign.

Successive kings of the 1st dynasty, founded about 2232 B.C. by Sumu-abu, are known but slightly, though many contract tablets belonging to this period have been found. The isolated city-kingdoms of Babylonia had already existed for centuries, with here and there a ruler who had been able to gain the supremacy over one or more of his neighbors for a time. But the man above all others who unified these scattered realms under his own sceptre, with Babylon as a centre, was Hammurabi, whose long reign of 55 years began about 2130 BC. He greatly improved the internal condition of his own country, both materially and politically, and carried his conquests to Elam, as had Sargon I, his predecessor by 500 years.

The 2d dynasty in the 'List of Kings' began in 1927 BC and consists of 11 rulers, about whom nothing was known. It is thought that during their reign the Kassites made their way into Babylonia from the countries of Media and Elam and secured a hold on the throne. When the total number of years the dynasties lasted is learned, dates for the first dynasties in the list are obtained which are too early to agree with other chronological information supplied by the historical inscriptions. The majority of writers have accepted the figures of the list of kings and have been content to ignore the discrepancies; others have sought to reconcile the available data by ingenious emendations of the figures given by the fist and the historical inscriptions, or have omitted the Second Dynasty entirely from their calculations. A new chronicle, by showing that the First and Second Dynasties were partly contemporaneous, explains the discrepancies that have hitherto proved so puzzling.

The 3d dynasty in the 'List of Kings,' initially dated as beginning at 1757 BC and now dated around 1530 BC, is made up of 36 kings, but only a few names at the beginning and at the close are preserved. The 'Synchronous History,' however, supplements this lacuna in some respects and gives an idea of the relations of this dynasty to Assyria. In fact, early in this dynasty the former little colony of Assyria, which had migrated from Babylon some time about 2500-2300 BC, rebelled against its mother-country, Babylon, and secured its independence. Its first king whose name is known was Bel-Kapkapu (about 1900 B.C.), mentioned by Adad-nirari IV (810-781 B.C.) as an early king on the Assyrian throne. Ashurbel-nishishu is the first king about whom anything of value is known. He ruled about 1480 B.C. and was on friendly terms with Karaindashi, a king of the 3d" Babylonian dynasty. Several successive Assyrian kings seem to have perpetuated this friendship, but jealousy and hostility sprung up and there were, repeatedly, clashes of arms, in which, on the whole, the young and vigorous Assyrian kingdom was victorious. One of the notable Assyrian kings of this period was Shalmaneser I, who ruled about 1300 BC. His great campaigns against the territory northwest of Assyria are celebrated in the records of Assurnasirpal (884-858 B.C.).

The name of the founder of the 4th Babylonian dynasty is not known. It came into being about 1180 BC. The "List of Kings" is, unfortunately, mutilated so that there are only portions of the names of the last three kings. The 'Synchronous History' fills part of the gap by giving some of the relations between Babylonia and Assyria during the life of this dynasty. These relations were hostile in some of its earlier years, when Nebuchadrezzar I (1140 BC) was on the throne, and the battle went against the Babylonians. Then Marduknadin-akhe, a Babylonian king, wrested victory from the Assyrians. Tiglathpileser I (1107 BC), King of Assyria, on the other hand, completely routed the same Babylonian king, captured a number of cities in north Babylonia, and even the city of Babylon itself. Succeeding kings of this Babylonian dynasty and of Assyria made treaties of peace, and for the time being ceased their wasteful warfare. Of all the Assyrian kings who reigned in the time of this Babylonian dynasty, Tiglathpileser I was the most vigorous, aggressive and successful. His example furnished an inspiration for all succeeding Assyrian rulers, and his conquests, related in full in his cylinder inscription, give us a fine specimen of early Assyrian historical writing.

The 5th Babylonian dynasty (about 1046-1024 BC) consisted of three kings whose full time of reigning was 21 years and five months. It has been called the "Sea-land" [Sea Country or Mat Tamti] dynasty, because it is thought probable that the Chaldeans about the head of the Persian Gulf were the occupants of the throne. At least, it is probable that the country was in political confusion during the life of this dynasty.

The 6th dynasty (about 1024-1003 B.C.) like its predecessor, had just three kings, covering 20 years and three months, of whose acts very little is known. A gap of about 100 years is found at this place in the sources, a part of which is attributed to an Elamite dynasty of one king who ruled six years. Assyrian history likewise has a gap of more than 100 years (1070-950 BC). The 'Synchronous History' sheds no light on this period.

The 8th dynasty of Babylon is supposed to have been native Babylonian, and occupied the throne from about 996 to ca. 815 BC. The kings who ruled in Babylon during these 200 years fought a losing battle with the Assyrians, for in almost every clash the Assyrian was victorious. Though many of the names of the early kings of this dynasty are lost, the names are known of the kings who waged war with Assyria during the larger portion of the life of the dynasty. With this dynasty the 'Synchronous History' closes.

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Page last modified: 09-07-2011 02:48:39 ZULU