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The NABONIDUS CHRONICLE is an ancient Babylonian text, part of a larger series of Babylonian Chronicles inscribed in cuneiform script on clay tablets . It deals primarily with the reign of Nabonidus
, the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire , covers the conquest of Babylon
by the Persian king Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
, and ends with the start of the reign of Cyrus's son Cambyses , spanning a period from 556 BC to some time after 539 BC. It provides a rare contemporary account of Cyrus's rise to power and is the main source of information on this period; Amélie Kuhrt describes it as "the most reliable and sober account of the fall of Babylon."

The chronicle is thought to have been copied by a scribe during the Seleucid
period (4th-1st century BC) but the original text was probably written during the late 6th or early 5th century BC. Similarities with the Nabonassar to Shamash-shum-ukin Chronicle, another of the Babylonian Chronicles, suggest that the same scribe may have been responsible for both chronicles. If so, it may date to the reign of Darius I of Persia (c. 549 BC–486 BC).


* 1 Description of the tablet * 2 The text * 3 Analysis * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links


The Nabonidus
Chronicle is preserved on a single clay tablet now kept at the British Museum
British Museum
in London
. Like the other Babylonian Chronicles, it lists in an annalistic (year-by-year) fashion the key events of each year, such as the accession and deaths of kings, major military events, and notable religious occurrences. It follows a standard pattern of reporting only events of immediate relevance to Babylonia, making it of somewhat limited utility as a source for a wider history of the region. The tablet itself is fairly large, measuring 140 mm wide by 140 mm long, but is significantly damaged with its bottom and most of the left-hand side missing. The text was composed in two columns on each side, originally consisting of some 300-400 lines. What remains is extremely fragmentary; little more than 75 lines of text are still legible. The missing portions consist of most of the first and fourth columns, along with the bottom of the second and the top of the third. There appears to have been a colophon at the bottom of the tablet, but it too is largely missing.

Although the writing is of a good standard, the copying was decidedly imperfect and the scribe made a number of errors that are visible in the text.

The tablet was acquired by the British Museum
British Museum
in 1879 from the antiquities dealers Spartali apparently the scribe did not have any significant events to record for that year. Another campaign by Cyrus is recorded in the ninth year, possibly representing his attack on Lydia
and capture of Sardis .

Much of the rest of the text is fragmentary. A possible reference to fighting and Persia appears in what is presumably the entry for the sixteenth year. A long surviving section describes the events of Nabonidus's seventeenth and final year as king, when Cyrus invaded and conquered Babylonia. The celebration of the Akitu festival is recorded, indicating Nabonidus's return to Babylon. The chronicle provides no information on why Cyrus chose to invade Babylonia
at that time but records that the gods of various cities "entered Babylon", apparently referring to an in-gathering of cultic statues in advance of the Persian invasion – perhaps a measure taken by Nabonidus
to prevent the Persians capturing the divine idols. It provides a terse description of the Battle of Opis , in which the Persians decisively defeated Nabonidus's army, massacred the retreating Babylonians and took a great haul of loot. The Persian army went on to capture the cities of Sippar
and Babylon
itself without further conflict. Cyrus is reported to have been received with joy by the city's inhabitants and appointed local governors. The gods that had previously been brought to Babylon
were returned to their home cities on the orders of Cyrus. The legible portion of the text ends with a lengthy period of mourning for the lately deceased king's wife (presumably meaning the wife of Cyrus, as Nabonidus
was no longer king by this time ) and a mention of Cambyses, the son of Cyrus. Only a few scattered words are legible in the remainder of the tablet.


The Nabonidus
Chronicle appears to have been composed by the (Babylonian) priests of Marduk
, the chief god of Babylon. It has been characterised as "a piece of propaganda at Cyrus's service" and as possibly "the result of the propaganda of the priesthood of Marduk
to vilify Nabonidus". Julye Bidmead attributes the priests' hostility to Nabonidus's unsuccessful attempts to introduce the worship of the moon god Sîn . In particular, the chronicle repeatedly asserts that the Akitu festival could not be held because of Nabonidus's absence. This is dubious, as others could have participated in the celebration in Nabonidus's place. The chronicle is seen as part of a series of pro-Persian documents, including the Cyrus cylinder
Cyrus cylinder
and Verse Account of Nabonidus
, that attack Nabonidus
for alleged religious infidelity and contrast his actions with those of Cyrus and Cambyses. . However Amélie Kuhrt describes it as "the most reliable and sober ancient account of the fall of Babylon."


* Babylonian Chronicle * Nabonidus


* ^ A B Oppenheim, A.L. "The Babylonian Evidence of Achaemenian Rule in Mesopotamia". In Gershevitch, Ilya (ed), The Cambridge History of Iran: Vol. 2 : The Median and Achaemenian periods, p. 535. Cambridge University Press, 1993. ISBN 0-521-20091-1 * ^ A B C D Kuhrt, Amélie. " Babylonia
from Cyrus to Xerxes", in The Cambridge Ancient History: Persia, Greece, and the Western Mediterranean, C. 525-479 B.C, pp. 112-138. Cambridge University Press, 1988. ISBN 0-521-22804-2 * ^ Clyde E. Fant, Mitchell G. Reddish, Lost Treasures of the Bible: Understanding the Bible Through Archaeological Artifacts in World Museums, p. 228. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing, 2008. ISBN 0-8028-2881-7 * ^ A B Grayson, Albert Kirk. Assyrian and Babylonian Chronicles, p. 21. J.J. Augustin, 1975 * ^ A B C Smith, Sidney. Babylonian Historical Texts Relating to the Capture and Downfall of Babylon, p. 98. Taylor ;background:none transparent;border:none;-moz-box-shadow:none;-webkit-box-shadow:none;box-shadow:none;">v

* t * e

Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great

Teispids , Achaemenid Empire
Achaemenid Empire


* Cambyses I
Cambyses I
* Mandane of Media * Cassandane * Amitis


* Cambyses II
Cambyses II
* Bardiya * Atossa
* Artystone


* Persian Revolt * Hyrba * Persian Border * Pasargadae * Pteria * Thymbra * Sardis * Opis


* "Cyrus" (name) * Cyrus Cylinder
Cyrus Cylinder
* Cyrus\'s edict * Pasargadae * Tomb * Cyropaedia * Cyrus in the Bible / in the Quran ( Dhul-Qarnayn ) * Kay Bahman * Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
Day * Cyrus the Great
Cyrus the Great
(screenplay) * Ciro riconosciuto