Livius.org describes the Uruk King List, translating it and also listing what years those kings are believed to have ruled (from other sources). In the list, it says Antiochus I Soter ruled for 22 years according to the Uruk King List, but he is conventionally known to have ruled only 20 years, from 281-261 BCE.

Why does the Uruk King List say he ruled longer, and why don't we accept that number?

  • 281-261 can be anything from 19 to 21 years, depending on the exact dates. Having only start/end years you can't be sure it is exactly 20. – Gangnus Aug 30 '16 at 10:40
  • @Gangnus. The Babylonian system counted regnal years beginning at the Babylonian New Year (1st of Nisannu) following the actual accession of the king. Antiochus I became king in 31 Seleucid (his "accession year"), his first regnal year was 32 Sel. and he died in 51 Sel., his 20th regnal year. There is no ambiguity. – fdb Aug 30 '16 at 10:51
  • That is why the king lists consistently say things like “he ruled for 20 years” (not “20 years, 3 months, 8 days”). It means that his reign ended in his 20th regnal year. – fdb Aug 30 '16 at 11:18
  • @fdb The mathematics, being the science number one, has priority over history, that is hardly a science at all. – Gangnus Aug 30 '16 at 11:28
  • @Gangnus. This is not about mathematics. It is about understanding the terminology used by the Babylonian chronographers. Any way, as you surely know, it was the Babylonians who discovered mathematics as a science. – fdb Aug 30 '16 at 11:55

Look at the footnote in the linked edition. It says "[Twenty-two years is probably a scribal error.]"

The "King list VI" gives the correct number "20"; see here:


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  • Can you explain why the Uruk King List is probably a scribal error and the other documents are probably correct? Why not say the other ones made mistakes? Just want to know the basis for why we are so sure Uruk King List is mistaken. – A L Aug 30 '16 at 17:31
  • Either King List V (“22 years”) or King List VI (“20 years”) must be wrong. In King List VI the 20 years are synchronised with the years of the Seleucid era (his first regnal year is 32 Sel.; his last is 51 Sel.) so this source is at least internally consistent. The Seleucid kings are mentioned in Greek historians as well. – fdb Aug 30 '16 at 17:45
  • Are you saying since King List VI goes into more detail while still consistently saying 20, and other Greek sources have it at 20, that is the entire basis of trusting that source more? – A L Aug 30 '16 at 17:47
  • Not just the detail, the fact that the maths are right. – fdb Aug 30 '16 at 18:21
  • 1
    Ok. when I have time. – fdb Aug 30 '16 at 18:33

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