May 29, 1956
Dear Dr. Federn:
Finally I got so bad a conscience about “Ages” vol. 2 that I sat down seriously to finish it. But there is quite a work left for me.
For the first time in sixteen years that I occupy myself with this work I met a document that can be regarded as an obstacle. It is a text published only now by the British Museum although the tablet was in their hands from before 1907. It is a Babylonian chronicle of the end of Napopolassar’s reign and the beginning of Nebuchadnezar’s reign. It names the latter as a direct successor of the former. I must admit that for days and nights I have urned the problem in my mind, since I received the text from London. I came to the conclusion that the error is with the text. On my inquiry, Wiseman (the editor of the texts) wrote that the texts were purchased from different sources in 1907. If the text is not an outright forgery (in difference to the annals of Nabopolassar those of Nebuchadnesar are very short and give actually only what is known from the Scriptures), then I assume that it is an erroneous presentation: my reconstruction requires that after Napolassar reigned Nergilissar, his son Labas-Marduk and only thereafter Nebukhadnesar: this is the succession as revealed by the Boghazkoi texts, where accidentally the kings are called by the same names Nergil and Labas. In the galleys of my vol. 2 you will find why even without the Boghazkoi texts the order must be: Nergilissar before Nebukhadnezar (Nergilissar calls himself in official inscriptions son of Bel-Shum-ishkun, king of Babylon; the temple of Ezagila was found by him in a ruinous state whereas Nebukhadnezar took pride in keeping it in a very good condition; the same with the palace—and actually bricks with the name of Nebukhadnezzar in perfect order were found by Koldewey—Neriglissar could not have repaired a decayed foundation. Then all other collations; it should suffice to recall that Mursilis warred in Harran against the Assyrians and the Egyptians, and Assuruballit was his opponent there; exactly the same place, the same alliance, and the same king as his opponent, in the story of Nabopolassar.
Then what is the solution. Wiseman admits that these chronicles could have been as late as the end of the Persian time; this is only a few decades before Berosus; this would explain where Berosus, and others after him, took his wrong succession. With Berosus’ error I dealt already in my book.
I have received a new letter from the boy in Texas. I mail you his letter and my reply. At first I was very happy about the “captivity of Ramses I”. But possibly he has another text in mind.
I wonder whether you know anything about Ramses II tiles with Greek letters. Who published anything on the subject? Would Hayes be the person?
I owe you for taking time with various questions I have put before you. I enclose a check. Anyway I am in your debt. (I just guessed the hours you have recently spent on the questions).
Warm regards from my wife.
Ps. The same book by Wiseman presents a more detailed chronicle of Neriglissar’s wars: he went on a war expedition against Lydia which is rather far for a Babylonian king. not if the original capital of the Chaldean kings was in Boghazkeui. I will need to compare the text about these activities with what is known about Muwatalis-Nergil.