Chronology in Assyriology is involved in the difficult task of assigning dates to rulers, dynasties, kingdoms, and various events in ancient Mesopotamia during the 3rd, 2nd and 1st Millenia BC. The primary sources of establishing one are the various king lists of Assyrian, Babylonian and Sumerian states. Merchant records, the Amarna Letters and other correspondences with Egypt and the Hittites, and astronomical events are also commonly used. Establishing a coherent timeline in Assyriology has proven to be a divisive and extremely difficult issue. This has led to the development of three separate chronologies, called the Long, Middle, and Short, and understanding the differences between the three is often vital in Assyrology.
It should be mentioned that there is no disagreement in academic circles over the dating of events after 747BC. Before that date the discrepancies between the chronologies increases the earlier one looks. The Short Chronology in modern times is deemed the most correct, although the Middle Chronology is still widely used in resource books and encyclopedias due to the long time it takes to update information. The Long Chronology has long been discredited.
The Long Chronology is the original established chronology of the ancient Near East, and has been entirely discredited in following years. The Long Chronology depends on the cyclic date of 2517BC, for which there is little evidence to back up its existence. The Long Chronology ignores substantial information and records from the Assyrians, Egyptians, Hittites and Sumerians, and it ignored all contradictions with between various king lists. It gives the dates of the Akkadian Empire existing in the 28th Century BC, which archaeologically is far too early. It also gives the dates of Hammurabi's reign as 1848 - 1806BC, which is unsynchronised with the chronologies of other empires of the Near East.
The Middle Chronology is the chronology most commonly used until recently. It lies 64 years earlier than the Short Chronology. The Middle Chronology was first proposed in AD1891 and it attempted to reconcile contradictions and discrepancies in the Long Chronology through slight emendations. Originally, the length of the Third Dynasty of Babylon was decreased by 177 years, citing scribal error. Further chronological work in the following decade led to the original length of the Third Dynasty being restored, and the Second Dynasty decreased by 50 years in AD1903. The Middle Chronology resulted in the dates of Hammurabi's reign as 1792 - 1750BC.
The Short Chronology is the most commonly accepted chronology today, although until recently it was the most unpopular of the three amongst Assyriologists. The short chronology first appeared in 1886, and it attempted to solve the contradictions through severe emendations, firstly by reversing the orders of the First Dynasty with the Second. In 1901 this proposal was abandoned and instead saw the Third Dynasty immediately succeed the First, stating that either the Second Dynasty was apocryphal or was synchronised with the First. It was many years before before archaeologists proved the Short Chronology was correct in its emendations. The short chronology gives the dates of Hammurabi's reign as 1728 - 1686BC.
Comparison of the ChronologiesEdit
|Reign of Sargon the Great of Akkad*||c. 2800BC||2399 - 2343BC||2335 - 2279BC|
|Reign of Naram-Sin of Akkad*||c. 2750BC||2329 - 2282BC||2265 - 2228BC|
|First Dynasty of Babylon||1959 - 1659BC||1894 - 1595BC||1830 - 1595BC|
|Reign of Hammurabi of Babylon||1848 – 1806BC||1792 - 1750BC||1728 - 1686BC|
|Reign of Ammi-Saduka of Babylon||1711 - 1690BC||1646 - 1626BC||1582 - 1562BC|
|Seventh Dynasty of Assyria||722 - 609BC||722 - 609BC||722 - 609BC|
|Reign of Sennacherib of Assyria||705 - 681BC||705 - 681BC||705 - 681BC|
|Babylonian Empire||612 - 539BC||612 - 539BC||612 - 539BC|
|Reign of Nebuchadrezzar II of Babylon||605 - 562BC||605 - 562BC||605 - 562BC|
|Persian Empire||593 - 332BC||593 - 332BC||593 - 332BC|
- * - there is no agreement over dates of events within any chronology marked with an asterisk