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Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period

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An Updated Chronology of the Reigns of Phoenician Kings during the Persian Period (539-333 BCE) J. ELAYI* Résumé: L’objectif de cet article est de proposer une chronologie des règnes des rois phéniciens à l’époque perse (539-333 av. notre ère), à partir de toutes les données disponibles dans l’état actuel de la documentation. Cette chronologie à jour et prudente pourra être utilisée comme base fiable par tous les spécialistes du Proche-Orient à l’époque perse. The chronology of the reigns of Phoenician kings during the Persian Period (539-333 BCE)1 is very difficult to establish for several reasons. First, the Persian period remained virtually unexplored until the last 20 years2; moreover, Phoenician studies were for a long time dependent on biblical chronology3. On the other hand, the deficiency of the sources has to be underlined. Monumental inscriptions mentioning kings and dated by the years of reign are rare in Phoenician cities, partly because many of them have disappeared in lime kilns, and perishable official *. CNRS, Paris. 1. 539 is the traditional date for the Persian conquest of Phoenician cities: see J. Elayi, Sidon cité autonome de l’Empire perse, Paris 1990², pp. 137-8. 333 is the date of the conquest of Phoenician cities by Alexander (332 for Tyre). 2. See J. Elayi and J. Sapin, Quinze ans de recherche (1985-2000) sur la Transeuphratène à l’époque perse, Trans Suppl. 8, Paris 2000; id., Beyond the River. New Perspectives on Transeuphratene, Sheffield 1998; and the series Trans, 1-32, 1989-2006. 3. Cf. J. Elayi, “Point de vue sur les études phéniciennes à l’époque perse”, BaghM 21, 1990, pp. 457-9; id., “Être historienne de la Phénicie ici et maintenant”, Trans 31, 2006, pp. 41-53.documents have not been preserved due to the damp, salty soil of the Lebanese coast4. For this study, every type of documentation had to be carefully collected, including monetary inscriptions, seals and non-Phoenician sources such as Greek and Latin texts. However, the recent progress in this field of research has significantly changed this situation. Phoenician studies have gained more and more autonomy in relation to biblical studies. A lot of new work has been performed on the Phoenician cities during the Persian period5. After the end of the Lebanese war, excavations were able to start again6, initiating fresh research. New inscriptions have been discovered or published: for example, the inscription discovered in Bostan ech-Cheikh by M. Dunand and published in 1965, revealing a new Sidonian dynasty, which has not always been taken into account or understood7; a newly published inscription of king Bodashtart of Sidon, a new Tyrian inscription and a few inscribed seals and stamps8. An important step forward came from the systematic study of Phoenician coins, namely the monetary inscriptions9: the main contribution was provided by the study of Sidonian coinage10, since it was the first dated coinage in Antiquity, based on the years of reign of the Sidonian kings. But generally speaking, this advancement in research has rarely been taken into account in recent publications, either because it was ignored or misunderstood by some scholars and not integrated by others. It is wrong to adopt the point of view of one scholar or another without 4. A.R. Millard, “The Uses of the Early Alphabets”, in C. Baurain et al. eds, Phoinikeia Grammata, Namur 1991, pp. 111-4. 5. See essentially references in Elayi-Sapin, op. cit. (n. 2) 2000, and J. Elayi, ! Abd! aštart Ier/Straton de Sidon: un roi phénicien entre Orient et Occident, Paris 2005. 6. See, for example, the series BAAL 1-8, 1996-2004, AHL (NMN) 1-23, 1995-2006; J. Elayi and H. Sayegh, Un quartier du port phénicien de Beyrouth au Fer III/Perse, I. Les objets; II. Archéologie et histoire, Paris 1998-2000. 7. See, for example, M. Dunand, “Nouvelles inscriptions phéniciennes du temple d’Echmoun, près Sidon”, BMB 18, 1965, pp. 105-9. Cf., for example, J.B. Peckham, The Development of the Late Phoenician Scripts, Cambridge Mass. 1968, pp. 76 ff. 8. M. Chéhab, “Découvertes phéniciennes au Liban”, in ACFP I/1, Roma 1983, p. 171; P. Xella and J.A. Zamora López, “Nouveaux documents phéniciens du sanctuaire d’Eshmoun à Bustan esh-Sheikh (Sidon)”, in ACFP VI, Lisbonne 2005; A. Lemaire, “Inscription royale phénicienne sur bateau votif”, in M. Heltzer and M. Malul eds, Teshûrot LaAvishur, Studies in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, in Hebrew and Semitic Languages, Festschrift Y. Avishur, Tel Aviv-Jaffa 2004, pp. 117*-29*; J.C. Greenfield, “A Group of Phoenician City Seals”, IEJ 35, 1985, pp. 129-34. 9. J. Elayi and A.G. Elayi, “Abbreviations and Numbers on Phoenician pre-alexandrine Coinages: the Sidonian Example”, NAC 17, 1988, pp. 27-36; id., “Systems of Abbreviations used by Byblos, Tyre and Arwad in their pre-alexandrine Coinages”, JNG 37-38, 1987-8, pp. 11-22. 10. Id., Le monnayage de la cité phénicienne de Sidon à l’époque perse (Ve-IVe s. av. J.-C.) I-II, Paris 2004.checking its validity. For example, the chronology of the Sidonian kings established by J.B. Peckham in 1968 or the one by J.W. Betlyon in 1982, erroneous as we have indicated11, are still sometimes followed12. There is also another major difficulty: not to be deceived by fakes. Forgers are so skillful now that it is extremely difficult to identify the fakes, unless one is an excellent specialist of the object concerned and can make the necessary appraisal. In fact, there are two kinds of fakes: those that imitate, more or less, existing objects and those that invent new realities such as new events, new dates, new kings. This last category of fakes is very dangerous because it changes history. If the historians or specialists in other fields are not sufficiently cautious and do not consult the specialists of the field concerned, they will completely rewrite a false history. For example, from new names provided by Samarian coins among which there are clearly fakes, a list of Samarian governors has been established13. It has been proposed to use, among other sources, undated and false Samarian coins for changing the chronology of dated, authentic Sidonian coins14. However, even when the data used by historians are authentic, their interpretation has to be carefully checked, asking other specialists if they themselves are not specialised in the field concerned. This is


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