Methodology of the Chronology of the Building Texts of Nebuchadnezzar


Regardless how Stephen Langdon in 1912 come to arrange the order, chronologically and otherwise, of the building stelae, inscriptions, reliefs, cylinders of Nebuchadnezzar in his transcription and translation of it (28 of them), the modus operandi for such a chronology must include the following ratio dicidendi for effectiveness:

1.    Nebuchadnezzar can only build with cedars if he conquered Lebanon. He only conquered Lebanon circa 588-586 BCE and does not rule out other trips there later or some trips in the earlier like 597 BCE. It does not rule out the regular supply of cedars from the Lebanon after his first encounter of it. He can only roof the buildings and decorate it with wood from these cedars if he had it. He can only have it if he encountered Lebanon. Thus it appears that most building operations regarding the temples and shrines in and around Babylon only happened after he fixed the incomplete channel of his father Nabopolassar in the north of the Euphrates, all the other street works and layouts. Then when the city was built he focused on the temple restorations and beautifications, then on his own palace. Building of each takes about two years minimum each and either the same team goes from one to the other or teams worked simultaneously. The logistics needed to be considered by Langdon for chronology.

2.    The likelihood is that the building of the temples per se, only occurred post 584 BCE until 570 BCE when his palace also was completed. That leaves seven years free for his megalomania embarrassment and his acknowledgement of the Jewish God before he died in 561 BCE. 

3.    Diet supply to the temples would only occur after a beautification of each temple. It included all kinds of wine. But the receipts of the Erech temple only indicate twice before 568 BCE a receipt of wine. As a rule, it seems that throughout his reign he did not favor the drinking of wine at temples. Thus, when he was in a state of madness starting in 568 BCE post-dating his megalomania thinking of his building works, then one finds on the business receipts of the temple increased alcoholism on a monthly or weekly scale, including priests. 

4.    One needs to see that he is not dogmatic about his findings of the dating and suggest it rather hesitatingly so one should not canonize his suggestions as fixed norms that cannot be shifted. The cedar utilization is one of his weaknesses not properly considered as a factor for chronology in the building projects and thus his suggestion of the Wadi Broshi (Lebanon) text A and text B dates stands under review.

5.    According to a renewed study of the Building projects of Nebuchadnezzar by the specialist Rocio da Riva over a long period but in his publication of 2013, the finishing of the Main palace was circa 576 BCE.

Nebuchadnezzar began the construction of the North Palace between his 16th and 19th regnal years and did not finish it before 576 BC,his 29th regnal year (Kleber 2008, 159–61). The building of the Hauptburg is commemorated in the following texts: C34, C35, C024, C025 and ST (Da Riva 2008), and mentioned in the introductory sections of many other Nebuchadnezzar inscriptions” (Rocio Da Riva, 2013. Nebuchadnezzar II’s Prism (EK 7834): A New Edition. Zeitschrift für Assyriologie 103(2): 196-229, especially page 196 footnote 5).

6.    The Psychology of Megalomania requires some time of focused reflection and repeated praises by all. The kakophonia of praises from his administrators, people in the streets or populism, diplomats from other countries, created in the mental composition of Nebuchadnezzar a reinforcement of his own importance linked to his building operations. Daniel’s description of this problem is very relevant. One can see for example in the modern style of talking of president Trump that he is also reflective of his own achievements and this is because everyone fail to have a proper conversation with him so they quickly resort to a rescue tool for the uncomfortable few minutes with him by resorting to abundance of praise for his successful economy leading to a psychological rehearsal of him telling in public how great he is. This is why there are more than 28 cylinders by Nebuchadnezzar repeatedly explaining how great he is by his building operations. 

7.    Although achievements is a fact in a person’s life, unless there is a concerted effort by the person him/herself to “back down” or “step out” of this praise, namely, to avoid hearing or seeing once own praise plastered in public, the person can become mentally disorientated. The human being does not have the capacity to handle over-praise and in this is his/her weakness as a general rule. It is because God did not create the human to be filled with self-praise in abundance. My father’s workers in South Africa said it right: “It is like pepper: as long as you use a little, the food tastes good but if you shake it too much, it will come into your eyes and burn you”. So they called by father by the nickname “pelle-pelle”. 

8.    The text EK7834 that Da Riva discussed was not necessarily written in the 7th year of Nebuchadnezzar around 598 BCE but is the year in which the storehouses of the treasury was filled with abundance (Da Riva 2013: on Col. IV or III* (line 25) reading in se-bu-tim ša-at-ti-ja 1 lim 1 lim še-im (line 26) 1 [ME] 10+ [x] +10 [lim] ZÚ.LUM.MA 20 lim sa-ap-pa-a-ti ka-ra-[nam] (line 27) in qé-[re]-[eb] é-sag-íl akk-ku-ru-[un] translated as  “In my seventh (regnal) year, I stored inside Esagil 1,000,000 (measures of) barley” when he finished the Old Palace which his father Nabopolassar started building earlier. He elaborated on it. He would build another palace or Main palace later in his reign. The period between 605 and 597 BCE was one of grabbing for the treasury. Then after the Old Palace enlargement the city buildings were done. Then the temples inside and outside of Babylon proper and finally his own Main palace. One reads of his wine storing practices before 597 BCE in this storehouse but it seems that the Jewish lifestyles of Daniel and friends had an impact on him to minimize the wine at temples as Erech receipts shows?