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Idumaean Ostraca and Early Hellenistic Chronology.

The Journal of the American Oriental Society 2005, April-June, 125, 2

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With the publication in 1996 of a large number of Idumaean ostraca, a new source of information on early Hellenistic chronology has appeared. (1) Subsequent publications have continued to add to this material, with the promise of still more to come. Unfortunately, while many of these are dated, most are dated by month and/or day only. Even among those that include a year reference, most do not list a contextual referent. However, a number do and a few of these directly relate to early Hellenistic chronology. The names of "Alexander," (2) "Philip," (3) and "Antigonus," (4) appear on a number of these ostraca. Of these, those relating to Philip are without question to be associated with Philip III Arrhidaeus. Those clearly dated in the reign of "Alexander" have been associated with either Alexander III "the Great," or with his son, Alexander IV. Unfortunately, the data are sufficiently amorphous that either position is possible. Israel Eph'al and Joseph Naveh associated the ostraca dates with Macedonian regnal years. (5) With this premise, the ostraca listing the monarch as Alexander had to refer to Alexander IV, since four of the surviving ostraca are dated to the second year of Alexander, (6) and Alexander the Great's second regnal year was spent in Macedonia. This Macedonian dating would accord with the majority of dated material from Babylonia. Tom Boiy has recently shown that the various surviving cuneiform astronomical tablets and king lists can be brought into synchronization. (7) Andre Lemaire has proposed that the listings represent a local Idumaean chronology, and that consequently the "Alexander" dates are to be connected with the reign of Alexander III, with Alexander's first regnal year representing his arrival on the eastern shore of the Mediterranean. (8) While there is currently no way to decide definitively, Lemaire's position is the more persuasive. In the first place, it is peculiar, if these ostraca do refer to the son of the conqueror, and not the great man himself, that they have no designation to distinguish him from his namesake. Surely ostraca must have been dated with respect to Alexander III; he ruled this area for almost a decade. Moreover, in Lemaire's identification there is no overlap of named years. If "Alexander" does indeed refer to Alexander IV, then three of the ostraca are to be dated June 30, July 7 and 21, 315 B.C., respectively, (9) and one in the year 315/4. (10) If these ostraca are dated in accord with the Babylonian cuneiform tablets, then certain of the ostraca dating the year by reference to Antigonus would also fall in 315. (11) Of course, similar overlapping dates are found in the cuneiform texts of Babylonia. (12)

Idumaean Ostraca and Early Hellenistic Chronology.
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  • Category: Social Science
  • Published: 01 April 2005
  • Publisher: American Oriental Society
  • Print Length: 9 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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