Marduk-šāpik-zēri (1081-1069 BC)

Babylonian King List C [] states that the seventh king of the Second Dynasty of Isin [], Marduk-šāpik-zēri (Akk. "Marduk (is) the outpourer of seed"), ruled over the land for thirteen years;[1] according to an account preserved in two chronicles (the Walker Chronicle [] and the Eclectic Chronicle []), he was the son of his predecessor Marduk-nādin-aḫḫē []. It has been suggested that a comparison of his accession with that of the Neo-Assyrian king Esarhaddon [] in a later text (ABL 1237 rev. 4) might indicate that he was not the heir apparent, but rather a younger son of the king who only came to power after a struggle for the throne (see Wiseman xxx). However, so far, there is no real evidence for any violence at the time of his accession: An Assyrian chronicle [] simply states that Marduk-šāpik-zēri "entered upon his father's throne,"[2] after Marduk-nādin-aḫḫē [][3] had "disappeared." Whether these events had anything to do with the invasion and raids of Aramaean tribes into Assyrian territory, in whose context they are told, remains a matter of debate. However, it could well be the case that the "kings of the lands" whom Marduk-šāpik-zēri reportedly defeated according to an account in the Walker Chronicle [] and the Eclectic Chronicle [] might have been Aramaean chieftains.

Both chronicles describe Marduk-šāpik-zēri's reign in a very positive way: After the king of Babylon defeated several foreign kings, his own people enjoyed abundance and prosperity. The relatively few documents pertaining to his reign seem to support this view: Thus, for example, two royal building inscriptions [] record renovation work on the walls and gates of Babylon and on the temple Ezida at Borsippa, and a later (Neo-Babylonian) inventory shows that Marduk-šāpik-zēri could afford to donate precious objects to a temple at Ur. The most noteworthy aspect about his reign is that relationships between Babylonia and Assyria improved significantly compared to the reign of his predecessor, Marduk-nādin-aḫḫē []: Not only is there no evidence for mutual hostilities, but two chronicles (the Synchronistic History [] and the Eclectic Chronicle []) even state explicitly that Marduk-šāpik-zēri had established friendly relations with his Assyrian counterpart Aššur-bēl-kala. Unfortunately, we neither know at what price the peace between the two rulers came about, nor how long it lasted. However, it seems at least noteworthy that one of several varying accounts about the accession of his successor, Adad-apla-iddina [], states that the latter -- who clearly was not a member of Marduk-šāpik-zēri's own family -- was installed by that very same Assyrian king (cf. Synchronistic History []).

For further information on the inscriptions of Marduk-šāpik-zēri, click here or on the "Inscriptions" link to the left.

Browse Marduk-šāpik-zēri Online Corpus []

Selected Bibliography:

Brinkman, J.A., A Political History of Post-Kassite Babylonia. 1158-722 B.C. (Analecta Orientalia 43), Roma: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1968 (esp. pp. 43, 130-135 and 334-335 no. 7).

Brinkman, J.A., 'Marduk-šāpik-zēri,' in: D.O. Edzard (ed.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 7, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1989, p. 378

Frame, G., Rulers of Babylonia. From the Second Dynasty of Isin to the End of Assyrian Domination (1157-612 BC) (The Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia, Babylonian Periods 2), Toronto et al.: University of Toronto Press, 1995 (esp. pp. 45-49).

Glassner, J.-J., Mesopotamian Chronicles (Writings from the Ancient World 19), Atlanta: Society of Biblical Literature, 2004.

Walker, C.B.F., 'Babylonian Chronicle 25,' in: G. van Driel et al. (eds.), Zikir šumim. Assyriological Studies Presented to F.R. Kraus on the Occasion of his Seventieth Birthday, Leiden: Netherlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 1982, pp. 398-417.

Wiseman, D.J., xxxCAH 2xxx, pp. 25-26.


[1] Interestingly, the series of kings listed in this text ends with the respective entry and a following short summary stating that in total 500 years had passed from an unknown starting point until the end of Marduk-šāpik-zēri's reign. This might be related to the fact that his successor, Adad-apla-iddina [], was an outsider who had no familial bonds with his predecessors. [Go back to body text.]

[2] The reconstruction follows Glassner (2004, 189). Note, however, that the verb erēbu "to enter" is rarely attested in the context of throne accession. [Go back to body text.]

[3] The name is restored based on context. Cf. also the order of kings in Babylonian King List C (where the name of Marduk-nādin-aḫḫē is erroneously given as Marduk-nādin-šumi) and the above-mentioned genealogy. [Go back to body text.]

Alexa Bartelmus

Alexa Bartelmus, 'Marduk-šāpik-zēri (1081-1069 BC)', RIBo, Babylon 2: The Inscriptions of the Second Dynasty of Isin, The RIBo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2016 []

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