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2011 | 47 | 135-150
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NEO-BABYLONIAN CHRONICLE AND OLD PERSIAN CUNEIFORM FROM THE REIGN OF ARTAXERXES III OCHOS (Uus-babuloonia kroonika ja vana-parsiakeelne raidkiri Artaxerxes III Ochose valitsemisajast. Tolked ja kommentaarid)

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The main aim of the current short article is not only to give an overview of some facts regarding the biography of the last important Old Persian king Artaxerxes III Ochos (359-338 bc), who re-established a weakened Achaemenid Empire, but also to give an analysis of translations of two short, but very important texts from his reigning period, one of which is an Akkadian cuneiform text (written in neo-Babylonian dialect of Akkadian). This text was composed in the form of a short chronicle, from which we can see as the evidence of statements of some ancient Greek authors, for instance, Diodorus Siculus, that king Artaxerxes III was a very brutal despotic king and deported many people, including those involved in the revolt of the Phoenician city-state Sidon, which had been conquered and destroyed by forces of Artaxerxes III in 345 bc. He killed part of population of this big important Phoenician cultural, economic and political centre, and all women and children were deported into the inland of his renewed empire - in Babylon and Susa. He also conquered independent Egypt, killed Apis, the scared bull of the Egyptians, looted and razed sanctuaries and killed many inhabitants of Egypt. An example of his brutality: when Artaxerxes III got the throne, he butchered his 80 brothers and many other relatives. The second text, written in Old Persian cuneiform, is one of the last Old Persian cuneiform texts and can be described as 'peaceful' or more correctly as a building-inscription. It has the opposite aim comparing to the first text - to glorify Artaxerxes III as a constructive force in Persepolis, the capital city of the Achaemenid Empire and also as a very religious and faithful zoroastrist, who honoured very much the main Deity of Persians - Ahuramazda. With the poisoning of old Artaxerxes III in 338 bc, by his vizier eunuch Bagoas, began the decline of the Persian Empire, which ended some years later, when Alexander the Great, son of Philip II of Macedonia invaded with his victorious Greek-Macedonian army and during 4-5 years (334-330/329) destroyed the Persian Empire and afterwards conquered the whole of the Middle East from the Hellespont to the Indus Valley, from Egypt to the Caucasus, and died in Babylon 323 bc, when he was only 32 years old.
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  • Vladimir Sazonov, University of Tartu, Faculty of Theology, Ulikooli 18, 50090 Tartu, Estonia
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