Madinatu = URU.MEŠ, “satrapy, province, district, country”, in Late Babylonian.

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Abstract. In this article I study eight attestations in the Astronomical Diaries from Babylon of the Aramaic loanword madinatu: (KUR)ma-di-na-at (once URU mad-di-na-at, once KUR ma-di-na-tú). The Aramaic word in question is mdynh (mədinā) (status rectus) or mdynt’ (mədintā) (status determinatus) and in the construct state mdynt (mədinat). The attestations are: AD 3, no. -143C: 7; no. -137A: 19; no. -137B: rev. 21’; no. -137C: rev. 17’; no. -130B: rev. 2’; no. -93A: rev. 11’; no. 93A: rev. 23; no. -86A: 10. There is one attestation in a Babylonian Chronicle of the Hellenistic period: BCHP 18C: 6’. The basic meaning of the Aramaic word is “area of jurisdiction”, and then “province”, “satrapy”, “district” or “land”. In later Aramaic the word can be used for “city” (with area of jurisdiction around; Greek polis). Jean-Marie Durand drew my attention to a much earlier attestation in Mari: (A.3082 = ARM XXVI no. 483 [], lines 3-4).
The meaning of madinatu in all Babylonian texts is “province”, “satrapy”, “district” or “country”, e.g. used for Media and Elam. Nevertheless the ideographic rendering of the term is URU.MEŠ, literally “cities”, as we see interchangably URU.MEŠ šá KUR Ma-da-a-a and madinat ša KUR Ma-da-a-a. This sheds new light on a famous passage in the diary of 169 BC, AD 2 -168A: 15, mAn LUGAL ina URUmeš šá kurMe-luh-ha šal-ṭa-niš GIN.GIN-a[k]). We should read here: “Antiochus (IV) marched around victoriously in the land of Egypt” (rather than “in the cities of Egypt”).
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)110-116
Number of pages7
JournalArchiv für Orientforschung
Issue number53
Publication statusPublished - 2016


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