Eponym Dates

In Assyria, each eponym-year, called a limmu or līmu in Akkadian, was named after a high state official and lists of these officials (eponyms) were compiled by Assyrian scribes. The eponym list for Ashurbanipal breaks off after his 20th regnal year and, thus, the exact sequence from 648 to the end of the Assyrian empire (ca. 610) is unknown (see below for details). The following list of the eponym officials from 669–649 is based upon Millard, SAAS 2 pp. 61–62. Dated inscriptions that are included in the present volume are also noted below. A number of inscriptions whose dates may possibly be determined with some degree of confidence (e.g., instances with a clear terminus post quem for the inscription) are given in bold.

Year Regnal Year Eponym Dated Texts
669  Accession year  Šamaš-kāšid-ayābi, governor of Asdu[...]    
668  1  Mār-larīm, field marshal of Kummuḫu    
667  2  Gabbāru, governor of Dūr-Sennacherib    
666  3  Kanūnāyu, governor of the New Palace  1  
665  4  Mannu-kī-šarri, palace herald  1–2  
664  5  Šarru-lū-dāri, governor of Dūr-Šarrukīn  2  
663  6  Bēl-naʾdi, field marshal    
662  7  Ṭāb-šār-Sîn, governor of Raṣappa    
661  8  Arbailāyu, chief chamberlain    
660  9  Gir-Ṣapūnu (unknown rank)     
659  10  Silim-Aššur, second vizier    
658  11  Ša-Nabû-šû, (chief) eunuch    
657  12  Lâbâši, chief of trade    
656  13  Milki-rāmu, chief tailor    
655  14  Awiānu, governor of Que  61  
654  15  Aššur-nāṣir (unknown rank)     
653  16  Aššur-ilāʾī, chief vizier  63  
652  17  Aššur-dūru-uṣur, governor of Barḫalzi  63  
651  18  Sagab(bu), governor of Ḫarrān    
650  19  Bēl-(Ḫarrān-)šaddûʾa, governor of Tyre    
649  20  Aḫu-ilāʾī, governor of Carchemish  3  

As mentioned above, the Assyrian eponym list breaks off after 649 (Ashurbanipal's 20th year). The reconstruction of this sequence has received a number of scholarly treatments over the years. As to be expected, every person who has attempted to order the eponyms after 648 has his/her own sequence. Therefore, the chart below presents the post-canonical eponyms in alphabetical order, with the proposed dates of M. Falkner (AfO 17 [1954–56] pp. 100–120), S. Parpola (PNA 1/1 pp. XVIII–XIX), and J.E. Reade (Orientalia NS 67 [1998] pp. 255–265) given in the second, third, and fourth columns; a near identical chart appears in Baker, PNA 4/1 pp. 265–266. The inscriptions of Ashurbanipal edited in Part 1 dated by these eponyms are provided in the last column. Additional comments are provided in footnotes or after the chart.

EponymFalknerParpolaReadeDated Texts
Adad-rēmanni (unknown rank) 630631632
Ashurbanipal, king633
Aššur-gārūʾa-nēre, chief cupbearer635641640
Aššur-gimillu-tēre, chief fuller641638636
Aššur-mātu-taqqin, governor of (U)pummu624623626
Aššur-rēmanni, chief eunuch of the crown prince621617625
Aššur-šarru-uṣur, governor of Maraš643643641
Bēl-aḫu-uṣur, palace overseer619616621
Bēl-iqbi, governor of Tušḫan616621619
Bēl-šaddûʾa (unknown rank)[178] 630
Bēl-šarru-naʾid (unknown rank) 629(see Dādî) (see Dādî)
Bēlšunu, governor of Ḫindānu6486486483–5
Bēlu-lū-dāri (unknown rank) 638635633
Bulluṭu, chief singer632634639
Dādî, (chief) treasurer620622622
Gargamisāyu (unknown rank) 609
Ilu-šumu-uṣur (unknown rank)
Iqbi-ilāni (unknown rank) 615A626618
Kanūnāyu, governor of Dūr-Šarrukīn624627
Mannu-kī-aḫḫē, governor of Ṣimirra (hapax Nineveh) 627A619688?
Marduk-rēmanni, governor of Kilīzu644A626613
Marduk-šarru-uṣur, governor of Que636B627631
Mušallim-Aššur, governor of Aliḫi642639637
Nabû-daʾʾinanni, governor of Que647642645
Nabû-mār-šarri-uṣur, field marshal612611612
Nabû-nādin-aḫi, governor of Kār-Shalmaneser6346476477–8
Nabû-sagībi, governor of Laḫīru[179] 628618629
Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu, governor of Samaria6466466469–10
Nabû-šarru-uṣur, chief eunuch645644643
Nabû-šarru-uṣur, chief judge610
Nabû-šarru-uṣur "the later," palace scribe626629624
after Nabû-šarru-uṣur, palace scribe625628
Nabû-tappûtī-alik, chief eunuch[180] 617613616
Nūr-ṣalam-ṣarpi (unknown rank) 628 (XII)
Pašî (unknown rank) 614616
Saʾīlu, chief cook[181] 618620620
Sîn-ālik-pāni, chamberlain615B615617
Sîn-šarru-uṣur, governor of Ḫindānu[182] 639636634
Sîn-šarru-uṣur, governor of Nineveh639?614
Sîn-šarru-uṣur, palace scribe[183] 622625628 (I–VII)
Sîn-šarru-uṣur, "the later" (unknown rank) 627B628 (IX–XI)
Sîn-šumu-ibni (unknown rank; hapax Nineveh) 625
Ṣalam-šarri-iqbi, field marshal of Kummuḫu623630623
Ša-ili-tadammeq, governor of Dēr
Šamaš-daʾʾinanni, governor of Babylon636A64564411
Šamaš-šarru-ibni, field marshal613612615
Šarru-mētu-uballiṭ, governor of Mazamua637640642
Ṭāb-ṣil-Sîn (unknown rank) 662632
Upāqa-ana-Arbail (unknown rank) 631633638
Zababa-erība (unknown rank) 640637635

There is general scholarly consensus that Bēlšunu (governor of Ḫindānu) was eponym in 648, the year immediately after Aḫu-ilāʾī (governor of Carchemish). This is suggested by the fact that at least two exemplars of text no. 3 (Prism B; exs. 5–6) were inscribed while Aḫu-ilāʾī held the post of eponym and one copy of that inscription (ex. 1) was written when Bēlšunu was eponym, and by the fact that three exemplars of text no. 4 (Prism D; exs. 1, 5, and 9), an inscription whose military narration is identical to text no. 3 (Prism B), were inscribed in the eponymy of Bēlšunu. Because inscriptions dated by Bēlšunu record neither the fall of Babylon nor the death of Šamaš-šuma-ukīn (after Abu [V] 648), those texts were presumably composed in the same year as those events.

It is clear from the contents of Ashurbanipal's inscriptions that Nabû-nādin-aḫi (governor of Kār-Shalmaneser) was eponym before Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu (governor of Samaria) and that Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu held that post prior to Šamaš-daʾʾinanni (governor of Babylon). Based on K 4773 (Fales and Postgate, SAA 7 pp. 77–78 no. 59), it is certain that six years separated the eponymies of the canonical Sagabbu (governor of Ḫarrān) and the post-canonical Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu. Scholars are divided on whether the six-year count is inclusive or exclusive, that is, whether the eponymy of Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu is five or six years after Sagabbu. This would mean that Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu was eponym in either 646 or 645. Based on careful studies of Neo-Elamite history and a closer examination of the editorial history of text nos. 6 (Prism C), 7 (Prism Kh), and 8 (Prism G), the eponymy of Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu appears to have been in 645, and not in 646, otherwise there would not be sufficient time for Ashurbanipal to wrap up affairs in Babylonia in 648 and to launch two major campaigns against Elam.[184] Because it is unlikely that text no. 6 (Prism C) was written in the same year as text nos. 7 (Prism Kh) and 8 (Prism G),[185] it is fairly certain that the eponymy of Nabû-nādin-aḫi is separated from that of Bēlšunu by one year. The name of the official who was eponym in 647, the year when text no. 6 (Prism C) was inscribed on prisms, is not known.[186] Thus, text no. 6 (Prism C) dates to 647, text nos. 7 (Prism Kh) and 8 (Prism G) to 646, and text nos. 9 (Prism F) and 10 (Prism T) to 645.

Based on Ashurbanipal's annalistic texts, there is little doubt that Šamaš-daʾʾinanni (governor of Babylon) held the office of eponym shortly after Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu. The earliest and latest possible dates are 644 and 640 respectively since text no. 11 (Prism A) was composed after text no. 9 (Prism F), which is dated by the eponymy of Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu (dated here to 645), and before text no. 12 (Prism H), which is dated in the Babylonian fashion to Ashurbanipal's 30th regnal year (639). It is generally assumed that text no. 11 (Prism A) was not written more than one, two, or three years after text no. 9 (Prism F) and, thus, Šamaš-daʾʾinanni may have been eponym in 644, 643, or even 642.[187] Although it cannot be proven with certainty, the eponymy of this governor of Babylon may have been separated from that of Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu by at least one year (643), rather than following it immediately. The scant evidence is as follows:

Thus, it seems likely that Šamaš-daʾʾinanni was eponym in the year 643 at the earliest. However, because it cannot be proven with absolute certainty that the eponymy of Šamaš-daʾʾinanni did not immediately follow that of Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu, 644 cannot be entirely ruled out of consideration. Since other events are included in text no. 11 (Prism A) — for example, the death of Gyges of Lydia and the receipt of an audience gift from Sarduri III of Urarṭu — a later date (642 or even 641 or 640) is also possible for this governor of Babylon's tenure as eponym. The eponymy of Šamaš-daʾʾinanni is tentatively dated here between 644 and 642, with preference given to 643 (or 642).


178 J.E. Reade (Orientalia NS 67 [1998] p. 258), following a suggestion by R. Whiting, believes that Bēl-šaddûʾa is not the same man as Bēl-Ḫarrān-šaddûʾa, who was eponym in 650.

179 K. Kessler (Studies Parpola p. 109) and R. Mattila (Studies Parpola p. 159 n. 3) argue against J.E. Reade's proposed dating.

180 J.E. Reade (Orientalia NS 67 [1998] p. 259) proposes that Pašî was an alternate name used for Nabû-tappûtī-alik at Aššur.

181 J. Novotny (Kaskal 11 [2014] p. 164 n. 11) suggests that the eponymy of Saʾīlu must come before that of Bēl-aḫu-uṣur since it is unlikely that Sîn-šarra-iškun's Cylinder A Inscription was written on cylinders several years after that king's clay cone inscription. This arrangement of the eponyms follows those of Falkner and Reade.

182 This eponym date appears on BM 122613, a fragment of a clay cylinder. J.E. Reade (Orientalia NS 67 [1998] p. 257), following the proposal of A.R. Millard (Iraq 30 [1968] p. 111), believes this piece belongs to the same cylinder as BM 122616+ (text no. 21) and, thus, dates it near the end of Ashurbanipal's reign (634). Following E. Weissert (apud Borger, BIWA p. 356), this fragment more likely dates to the reign of Sîn-šarra-iškun and, therefore, Sîn-šarru-uṣur, governor of Ḫindānu, is presumed here to have been eponym while Sîn-šarra-iškun was on the throne.

183 J.E. Reade (Orientalia NS 67 [1998] p. 258) suggests that the palace scribe Sîn-šarru-uṣur died during the year that he was eponym and that Nūr-ṣalam-ṣarpi replaced him; Reade reads the name as Nūr-ṣalam-kaspi. Moreover, he postulates that the hapax Sîn-šarrūssu-ukīn is Sîn-šarru-uṣur.

184 See Frame, Babylonia pp. 293–295; Novotny, SAOC 62 p. 128; and Waters, SAAS 12 pp. 117–118.

185 For details, see Novotny, SAOC 62 p. 128 and the commentary to text no. 6 (Prism C).

186 J. Novotny (SAOC 62 p. 128), following M. Falkner (AfO 17 [1954–56] p. 118), tentatively suggests that Nabû-daʾʾinanni (governor of Que) was eponym for the year 647. Of course, there are numerous other possibilities, apart from Nabû-šar-aḫḫēšu and presumably Nabû-nādin-aḫi.

187 The year 643 is the most commonly assigned date for Šamaš-daʾʾinanni's tenure as eponym. See, for example, Gerardi, Assurbanipal's Elamite Campaigns p. 72; Tadmor, Proceedings of the 25th International Congress p. 240; and Waters, SAAS 12 p. 79 n. 58. A.K. Grayson (ZA 70 [1980] p. 245) and G. Frame (Babylonia pp. 222 and 271) tentatively give a date of ca. 643–642. J.E. Reade (Orientalia NS 67 [1998] p. 256) prefers the year 644. Earlier and later dates have been proposed. For example, S. Parpola (PNA 1/1 p. XVIII) dates the eponymy of Šamaš-daʾʾinanni to 645, while S. Melville (Chavalas, ANE p. 360) suggests 639, and M. Falkner (AfO 17 [1954–56] p. 118) places it in 636.

188 The quick succession of events may have been possible only (1) if the Elamites rebelled immediately after learning that Ummanaldašu sent Nabû-bēl-šumāti's corpse to Nineveh to appease Ashurbanipal and (2) if Assyrian troops (perhaps under the direction of Bēl-ibni) were already in the region and pursued the deposed Elamite king as soon as he fled his capital.

189 There were two akītu-houses at Nineveh: one in the citadel and one north of the Nergal Gate. The older of the two, and the one that Ashurbanipal was rebuilding, was in the citadel, probably near Emašmaš, the temple of Ištar/Mullissu. The newer temple (Ešaḫulezenzagmukam; "House of Joy and Gladness for the Festival of the Beginning of the Year") was built anew by Sennacherib (ca. 690) outside the city wall, a little north of the Nergal Gate. It is probable that Sennacherib never finished work on that building and this may be the reason why Ashurbanipal decided to renovate the original akītu-house at Nineveh. For details, see Frahm, NABU 2000 pp. 75–79 no. 66; and Grayson and Novotny, RINAP 3/1 p. 22. Further information on this building will be provided in the introduction of Part 2.

190 It is not impossible for everything to have been wrapped up by the beginning of Ṭebētu (X). The impression given by Ashurbanipal's inscriptions, however, is that the campaign took some time to complete and, therefore, it is plausible that this military expedition concluded after the month Ṭebētu (X).

Jamie Novotny & Joshua Jeffers

Jamie Novotny & Joshua Jeffers, 'Eponym Dates', RINAP 5: The Royal Inscriptions of Ashurbanipal, Aššur-etel-ilāni, and Sîn-šarra-iškun, The RINAP/RINAP 5 Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2019 [http://oracc.org/rinap51introduction/datingandchronology/eponymdates/]

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