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Jursa, Michael/Schmidl, Martina: Babylonia as a Source of Imperial Revenue from Cyrus to Xerxes (published)

Published in: Jacobs, B., Henkelman, W.F.M., Stolper, M.W. (eds), 2017, Die Verwaltung im Achämenidenreich. Imperiale Muster und Strukturen/Administration in the Achaemenid Empire. Tracing the Imperial Signature. Akten des 6. Internationalen Kolloquiums zum Thema "Vorderasien im Spannungsfeld klassischer und altorientalischer Überlieferungen" aus Anlass der 80-Jahr-Feier der Entdeckung des Festungsarchivs von Persepolis, Landgut Castelen bei Basel, 14.-17. Mai 2013. Classica et Orientalia 17. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, pp. 715-740.


Abstract: While Classical sources, especially Herodotus, have proved to be of little value for reconstructing the Persian government’s multiple ways of extracting material resources and manpower from the province of Babylonia, cuneiform texts contain ample pertinent information. Basing itself on recent research (summarised in Jursa 2010a and 2011), this contribution presents a brief survey of the status quaestionis and then places its focus on anecdotal information and quantitative data that can be brought to bear on the issue of the impact of the taxation[1] system on the overall socio-economic situation in Babylonia. Discussion will be limited to the best-documented period, from the Persian conquest to 484 BC, the year of the Babylonian rebellions against Xerxes.

[1]       Note that in this paper, the word “taxation,” especially when referring to phenomena encountered in Babylonian tablets dating to the sixth and fifth centuries BC, is most often used in a loose sense in that it also includes service obligations imposed by the state. Conceptually, for Mesopotamian states, and also for the Persian empire, military conscription was just a special case of forced labour service. Terminology most often does not distinguish clearly between soldiers and workers.