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Book: About Edom and Idumea in the Persian Period

Chapter: 10. Edom in the Nabonidus Chronicle: A Land Conquered or a Vassal Defended? A Reappraisal of the Annexation of North Arabia by the Late Babylonian Empire

DOI: 10.1558/equinox.42827


This essay deals with the Arabian campaigns of the Late Babylonian king Nabonidus (r. 556–539 BCE) who had been residing at the North Arabian oasis of Taymāʾ from his third to thirteenth regnal year, i.e., from 553 to 543 BCE. Nabonidus embarked on the campaign to Arabia and the West early in his third year, in 553 BCE. Over the following decade, Nabonidus occupied the cities of Taymāʾ, Dadān, Fadak, Ḫaybar, Yadīʿ and Yaṯrib, controlling the caravan tracks of North Arabia. This essay addresses the motives of Nabonidus and the significance of the North Arabian cities he occupied, according to the available literary and epigraphic sources. As for Edom and its fate, fate of Edom, the term Edom (Udummu / *Udūm) rarely appear in the cuneiform record. In texts from the Late Babylonian period, it appears only once, in the Nabonidus Chronicle. A new reading of the line concerning Edom in the third regnal year of Nabonidus (553 BCE) in the Nabonidus Chronicle has important ramifications for the interpretation of the course of North Arabian annexation into the Late Babylonian empire. Schaudig proposes that Nabonidus appears to have come to Edom’s aid in his third year (553 BCE), defending it against raids by the Western Arameans and stabilizing it as a loyal vassal on whom he could rely in the hinterland when he set out to conquer North Arabia.

Chapter Contributors

  • Hanspeter Schaudig ( - hschaudig)