From a Babylonian chronicle in the British Museum we now know that Dynasty II. of the Kings' List never occupied the throne of Babylon, but ruled only in the extreme south of Babylonia on the shores of the Persian Gulf; that its kings were contemporaneous with the later kings of Dynasty I. and with the earlier kings of Dynasty III. of the Kings' List; that in the reign of Samsu-ditana, the last king of Dynasty I., Hittites from Cappadocia raided and captured Babylon, which in her weakened state soon fell a prey to the Kassites (Dynasty III.); and that later on southern Babylonia, till then held by Dynasty II. of the Kings' List, was in its turn captured by the Kassites, who from that time onward occupied the whole of the Babylonian plain. The same chronicle informs us that Ilu-shūma, an early Assyrian patesi, was the contemporary of Su-abu, the founder of Dynasty I. of the Kings' List, thus enabling us to trace the history of Assyria back beyond the rise of Babylon.
Without going into details, the more important results of this new information may be summarized: the elimination of Dynasty II. from the throne of Babylon points to a date not much earlier than 2000 or 2050 B.C. for the rise of Dynasty I., a date which harmonizes with the chronological notices of Shalmaneser I.; Nabonidus's estimate of the period of Khammurabi, so far from being centuries too low, is now seen to have been exaggerated, as the context of the passage in his inscription suggests; and finally the beginning of the historical period of Berossus is not to be synchronized with Dynasty I. of the Kings' List, but, assuming that his figures had an historical basis and that they have come down to us in their original form, with some earlier dynasty which may possibly have had its capital in one of the other great cities of Babylonia (such as the Dynasty of Isin).
New data have also been discovered bearing upon the period before the rise of Babylon. A fragment of an early dynastic chronicle from Nippur gives a list of the kings of the dynasties of Ur and Isin. From this text we learn that the Dynasty of Ur consisted of five kings and lasted for 117 years, and was succeeded by the Dynasty of Isin, which consisted of sixteen kings and lasted for 225&FRAC12; years. Now the capture of the city of Isin by Rīm-Sin, which took place in the seventeenth year of Sin-muballit, the father of Khammurabi, formed an epoch for dating tablets in certain parts of Babylonia, and it is probable that we may identify the fall of the Dynasty of Isin with this capture of the city. In that case the later rulers of the Dynasty of Isin would have been contemporaneous with the earlier rulers of Dynasty I. of the Kings' List, and we obtain for the rise of the Dynasty of Ur a date not much earlier than 2300 B.C.
These considerable reductions in the dates of the earlier dynasties of Babylonia necessarily react upon our estimate of the age of Babylonian civilization. The very high dates of 5000 or 6000 B.C., formerly assigned by many writers to the earliest remains of the Sumerians and the Babylonian Semites, depended to a great extent on the statement of Nabonidus that 3200 years separated his own age from that of Narām-Sin, the son of Sargon of Agade; for to Sargon, on this statement alone, a date of 3800 B.C. has usually been assigned. But even by postulating the highest possible dates for the Dynasties of Babylon and Ur, enormous gaps occurred in the scheme of chronology, which were unrepresented by any royal name or record. In his valiant attempt to fill these gaps Radau was obliged to invent kings and even dynasties, the existence of which is now definitely disproved. The statement of Nabonidus has not, however, been universally accepted. Lehmann-Haupt suggested an emendation of the text, reducing the number by a thousand years; while Winckler has regarded the statement of Nabonidus as an uncritical exaggeration. Obviously the scribes of Nabonidus were not anxious to diminish the antiquity of the foundation-inscription of Narām-Sin, which their royal master had unearthed; and another reason for their calculations resulting in so high a figure is suggested by the recent discoveries: they may in all good faith have reckoned as consecutive a number of early dynasties which were as a matter of fact contemporaneous.
But, though we may refuse to accept the accuracy of this figure of Nabonidus, it is not possible at present to fix a definite date for the early kings of Agade. All that can be said is that both archaeological and epigraphic evidence indicates that no very long interval separated the empire of the Semitic kings of Agade from that of the kings of Sumer and Akkad, whose rule was inaugurated by the founding of the Dynasty of Ur.
To use caution in accepting the chronological notices of the later kings is very far removed from suggesting emendations of their figures. The emenders postulate mechanical errors in the writing of the figures, but, equally with those who accept them, regard the calculations of the native scribes as above reproach. But that scribes could make mistakes in their reckoning is definitely proved by the discovery at Shergat of two totally conflicting accounts of the age and history of the great temple of Assur. This discovery in itself suggests that all chronological data are not to be treated as of equal value and arranged mechanically like the pieces of a Chinese puzzle; and further, that no more than a provisional acceptance should be accorded any statement of the later native chronologists, until confirmed by contemporary records. On the other hand, the death-blow has been given to the principle of emendation of the figures, which for so long has found favour among a considerable body of German writers.
(L. W. K.)
IX. Proper Names. - In the early days of the decipherment of the cuneiform inscriptions, the reading of the proper names borne by Babylonians and Assyrians occasioned great difficulties; and though most of these difficulties have been overcome and there is general agreement among scholars as to the principles underlying both the formation and the pronunciation of the thousands of names that we encounter in historical records, business documents, votive inscriptions and literary productions, differences, though mostly of a minor character, still remain. Some time must elapse before absolute uniformity in the transliteration of these proper names is to be expected; and since different scholars still adopt varying spellings of Babylonian and Assyrian proper names, it has been considered undesirable in this work to ignore the fact in individual articles contributed by them. The better course seems to be to explain here the nature of these variations.