4

According to Wikipedia, the reign of the Babylonian king Amel-Marduk (also known as Awil-Marduk and Evil-Merodach) was started in October 562 B.C.E. and was ended in August 560 B.C.E. So, it lasted for two years.

The page on Berossus mentions that he reigned for 2 years but, according to Josephus, Amel-Marduk reigned 18 years. So, the difference is 16 years.

Some other source says that the reign was started in 582 B.C.E. and therefore the difference is 20 years.

When exactly was the reign of Amel-Marduk? And why so much difference?

1
  • 1
    Do you have those other sources? My guess is that Josephus is wrong and people erred in using him as their source, but I can check Kuhrt in a bit to see what she says. From glancing over the Wikipedia page, it seems we have fairly solid inscriptional evidence that it was 2 years only.
    – cmw
    Commented Sep 26, 2022 at 21:20

1 Answer 1

4

A reign of two years (give or take a few months) for Amel-Marduk is generally accepted to be correct. However, there is still some uncertainty and disagreement as to the starting date for his reign: some sources give 562 BC, others 561 BC.

The 18 years you cite for Josephus is not considered reliable and, in a later work, Josephus states 2 years for Amel-Marduk's reign:

Originally, Josephus assigned eighteen years to his reign, but in a later work, Josephus states that Berossus assigned a reign of two years.

The length of Amel-Marduk's reign is not the only mistake:

Furuli's discussion of Flavius Josephus' information about the Neo-Babylonian chronology is not reliable because it is partially based on an obsolete text of Josephus' works. He starts by quoting Josephus' distorted figures for the Neo-Babylonian reigns at Antiquities X,xi,1-2:

"Nabopolassar 29 years, Nebuchadnezzar 43 years, Amel-Marduk 18 years, Neriglissar 40 years."

The unreliable source seems to be a translation from 1737:

Furuli got these figures from William Whiston's antiquated translation of 1737, which was based on a text that is no longer accepted as the best textual witness.

More generally - and helping to answer the question "why so much difference",

Most of the ancient authors that Furuli mentions lived hundreds of years after the Neo-Babylonian era, and their writings, which are preserved only in very late copies, often give distorted royal names and regnal years. Most of these sources, therefore, are useless for chronological purposes. (See GTR4, Ch. 3, A). This can be seen in Furuli's table on page 74, in which he lists the concordant chronology for the Neo-Babylonian era given by Berossus (3rd century BCE) and Ptolemy's Royal Canon, together with the conflicting figures of Polyhistor (1st century BCE), Josephus (1st century CE), the Talmud (5th century CE), Syncellus (c. 800 CE), and, strangely, a totally corrupt kinglist from 1498 CE.

These conflicting numbers demonstrate

to what extent figures can change through time and can be distorted by being quoted and copied time and again by various authors and copyists over a period of nearly 2000 years.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.