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AccueilAbstracta IranicaVolume 443. Histoire, Art et Archéologie, ...3.2. Ouest de l’Iran3.2.2. Pré-Achéménides et Achémén...Caroline Waerzeggers. “Writing hi...

3. Histoire, Art et Archéologie, Période pré-Islamique
3.2. Ouest de l’Iran
3.2.2. Pré-Achéménides et Achéménides

Caroline Waerzeggers. “Writing history under empire: the Babylonian chronicle reconsidered”

Reinhardt Pirngruber
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Caroline Waerzeggers. “Writing history under empire: the Babylonian chronicle reconsidered”, Journal of Ancient Near Eastern History 8, 2021, p. 279-317.

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1This paper undertakes a close reading of the Babylonian Chronicle ABC 1A and elucidates the text’s narrative structure as well as the political background of the composition. The author demonstrates that the text is by no means a dry enumeration of facts, but rather a carefully elaborated piece of historiography, likely composed in the early stages of Achaemenid rule over Babylonia (with the actual manuscript dating late in the reign of Darius I).

2The text gives an account of the history of Babylonia during the 8th and 7th centuries BCE focussing on the three major powers in the region, viz. Assyria, Babylonia and Elam. While the Babylonian kings are depicted as passive and inept, both Assyrian and Elamite kings are aggressive and battle-tried; the latter always victorious and also violently disposed towards Babylonia, while the Assyro-Babylonian conflicts are somewhat downplayed (e.g. in the case of Sennacherib’s destruction of Babylon). This possibly amounts to a subtle criticism of Achaemenid rulers, cast in the role of Elam’s heirs.

3Waerzeggers shows how by means of careful selection, manipulation and omission of an established canon of topics – e.g. the New Year’s Festival, which in other texts played an important role is all but absent from ABC 1A – as well as by means of a sophisticated layout of the text, the composer achieved a unique vision of Babylon’s history under the sway of foreign rulers.

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Reinhardt Pirngruber, « Caroline Waerzeggers. “Writing history under empire: the Babylonian chronicle reconsidered” »Abstracta Iranica [En ligne], Volume 44 | 2022, document 26, mis en ligne le 30 juillet 2022, consulté le 23 septembre 2023. URL : ; DOI :

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Reinhardt Pirngruber

Institut für Orientalistik, Wien

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