AbstractThe article explores the question whether there was a possible dialogue between ancient Greek and Mesopotamian chronography. This is an interesting albeit challenging subject due to the fragmentary preservation of the Greek texts. The idea that cuneiform tablets might have influenced the development of the genre in Greece lingers in the background without having been the subject of detailed discussion. Notably the Neo-Assyrian limmu list has been suggested as a possible blueprint for the Athenian archon list. In order to examine this topic further, a thorough analysis of ancient Greek chronography starting in the second half of the fifth century BC, when eponymous dates in various literary compositions begin to appear, is required. A close examination of the fragmentary evidence shows how difficult it is to trace the supposed annalistic style in the local histories of Athens (Atthides). In the Neo-Assyrian Empire, the eponymous limmu officials served as the chronological backbone, but there remains a huge time gap between the seventh century cuneiform manuscripts and the Athenian archon list from the fifth century. A comparison of the Neo-Assyrian Eponymous Chronicles with the preserved Greek chronographic traditions in Eusebius’ chronicle (fourth century AD) shows that the similarity is mainly confined to an abbreviated style, as the entries clearly point to the different cultural and political settings. Apart from the Neo-Assyrian sources, the Neo- and Late-Babylonian chronicles deserve further attention in the present inquiry. Looking for a connection with ancient Greek chronography in the fifth century, the lack of wholly preserved texts on both sides in the corresponding time constitutes an unsurmountable obstacle. Presenting and scrutinising the textual evidence both for ancient Greek and for Mesopotamian chronography enables an improved understanding of similarities and differences alike. To exemplify this point, Greek and Akkadian temple histories serve as test cases.
Journal of Ancient History – de Gruyter
Published: Jun 26, 2021
Keywords: ancient Greek chronography; Greek historiography; Assyrian and Babylonian chronicles