Double Datings

Scribes sometimes referred to the reigning king in dating documents. In a few cases they gave the dates by eponyms and by the regnal years of the kings. In the case of Sargon only, they also bear his regnal years as king of Babylon. The eponymates concerned and the regnal years are listed here, details may be found in the Catalogue of Eponym Dates. (Incomplete date-lines which add nothing are not included below.)

Eponym Date King Year
Šarru-ēmuranni12:[ ][Sargon][10]
Mannu-kī-Aššur-lēʾi[ ]Sargon12/13, Babylon 1
Šamaš-upaḫḫir24:iSargon14, Babylon 2
Ša-Aššur-dubbu10:iiiSargon15, Babylon 3
Mutakkil-Aššur24:xiSargon16, Babylon 4
Nasḫur-bēl2:iSar[gon]17, Babylon [5]
Metūnu11:[ ]Sennacherib6
Šulmu-šarri[ ]:ixSennacherib7

Scrutiny of the lists reveals that these double dates are frequently appended to copies of literary texts, but they occur as well in the date-lines of ordinary deeds. It is impossible to explain their sporadic use. The numbers for some of the years of Sennacherib (6, 21, 22, 23) show that his first year could be counted as 705 BC, the year of his father's death and his own accession as the rulings in some of the Eponym Lists imply (see above, pp. 13-14). The other years were reckoned from 704 BC as his first year, as Sargon's were reckoned from 721 and Esarhaddon's from 680.[[10]] Beside those precise dates, a smaller number of texts both deeds and literary texts, note the king in whose reign the document was written with the expression ina tarṣi, 'at the time of'. They are:

742 Nabû-daʾʾinanni26:xiTiglath-pileser III
680Danānu10:i, 28:iiEsarhaddon

10 The attribution of Nabû-kēnu-uṣur to Sennacherib's fourteenth year, reckoning from 703 as his first year either harks back to the system of the royal eponymate in the second year of reign and counts from that, or, hard though it may be to accept, is an error. There appear to be no other grounds for accepting 703 as the first year, for all the other arguments advanced by J. Lewy, Analecta Orientalia 12 (1935) 225-31 can be answered; see L. D. Levine, JCS 34 (1982) 29-40.

Alan Millard

Alan Millard, 'Double Datings', The Eponyms of the Assyrian Empire 910-612 BC, SAAS 2. Original publication: Helsinki, Helsinki University Press, 1994; online contents: SAAo/SAAS2 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2020 []

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