Mesopotamian Year Names

Neo-Sumerian and Old Babylonian Date Formulae

prepared by
Marcel Sigrist and Peter Damerow


The list of more than 2,000 year names which is made accessible here has been compiled as a tool for the dating of cuneiform tablets as well as for supporting historical studies on early bookkeeping techniques. This tool essentially consists of a collection of date formulae in administrative documents as they were used by the scribes in ancient Mesopotamia, and of computer generated indices for a quick identification of incomplete date formulae on damaged cuneiform tablets and of issues and events mentioned in these formulae.

The collection covers presently the time period

Access is provided through

According to the pupose of this compilation the data formulae as they are presented here do not quote specific texts but are often composite formulae based on several sources. Furthermore it was impossible to give always the numerous variants of some of the year names. In cases of doubt whether the given version adequately represents the textual evidence users should consult the references and the relevant publications on Mesopotamian year names. (A bibliography is currently in preparation and will soon be accessible here.)

History of the project

The preparation of this electronic tool is an outcome of an unusual and long-lasting cooperation between an assyiologist and an historian of science at intervals over a period of more than 10 years. The data are kept in a database. Originally it was planned to prepare a computer generated publication of these data. Some seven years ago, a preprint of this publication was made available to a small group of interested scholars, including at that time only the year names of the Ur III period and Old Babylonian period.

Since then with the addition of year names used in other cities as, for instance, of year names from the Diyala region and of year names found in new publications and on tablets in museums the collection of year names grew tremendously. This fact alone already suggested to use the means of electronic data processing even more than it was intended at that time. The quickly growing facilities of the World Wide Web finally led us to modify our original plans and to provide first of all an online access to the collected data.

Acknowledgements and call for participation

Through all the years, several persons have contributed to the collection of year names and to the technical realization of electronic data processing. Many colleagues have helped us by making available their notes and the results of their research, or simply by supplying us with new year names to be included. In particular, we have to thank Prof W. W. Hallo and the trustees of the British Museum for their kind permission to publish year names coming from tablets under their curatorship.

Collecting Mesopotamian year names is an ongoing project. Readings and Translations have to be improved, and it is likely that also in the future further year names have do be added. Making, nevertheless, the present version accessible should encourage users to sent us critical comments or to provide us with further year names.

Marcel Sigrist
Ecole Biblique
POB 19053
IL - 91190 Jerusalem
Peter Damerow
Max Planck Institute for the History of Science
Wilhelmstr. 44
D-10117 Berlin

Last change: 25/09/01 PD