Journaling for beginners: the Astronomical Diaries

During the course of the first millennium BCE, a new genre of cuneiform texts developed in the city of Babylon. They are the so-called Astronomical Diaries: records of celestial, climate-related, ecological, economic, and historical events. Their level of detail makes them into incomparable sources for Babylonian history, although they should still be approached with a … Continue reading Journaling for beginners: the Astronomical Diaries

A tasty tablet

Reading Babylonian administrative documents can be a rather boring task, because of the formulaic and factual language in which these texts are written. Yet, once in a while, Assyriologists are lucky enough to catch a glimpse of real life situations in them. A particularly comical story can be found in a text recording court proceedings … Continue reading A tasty tablet

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (12): the Late Babylonian period (484 BC – 80 CE)

The Persian conquest of Babylonia in 539 BC did not constitute a substantial break in Babylonian society. It is true that the Persians exercised high fiscal pressure on the local economic players, but the thriving socio-economic system of the Neo-Babylonian period remained largely intact. That changed, however, in the year 484 BC. The End of … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (12): the Late Babylonian period (484 BC – 80 CE)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (11): the Long Sixth Century (626-484 BC)

After centuries of political turmoil in Babylonia, the Assyrians seized control of the weakened territory in the first centuries of the first millennium BC. However, resistance remained, especially in the south, where Chaldean tribes were in power. It is from there that a strong new dynasty arose, which put an end to Babylonia's inferior position … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (11): the Long Sixth Century (626-484 BC)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (10): the Neo-Assyrian period (911-609 BC)

At the beginning of the first millennium BC, Assyria was dominated by Aramean tribes, who invaded the region en masse and weakened the once great empire. For more than a century, no ruler was strong enough to push them back and famine and poverty raged in the land. It was only at the beginning of … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (10): the Neo-Assyrian period (911-609 BC)

A Concise History of Mesopotamia (9): the Middle-Assyrian period (ca. 1500-1000 BC)

While it is possible to reconstruct the history of southern Mesopotamia throughout the second millennium BC - in spite of the many lacunae in our sources - we are quite unable to do the same for Assyria: the period between the reign of Ishme-Dagan (1781-1741) and that of Puzur-Ashur III (1521-1498) is so badly documented … Continue reading A Concise History of Mesopotamia (9): the Middle-Assyrian period (ca. 1500-1000 BC)