2. Assyrian Eponyms 910 to 649 B.C.

5. Internal evidence

The Eponym List is well documented. Nineteen exemplars preserve partial lists of eponyms, and several register over 150 names with hardly a scribal error. The individuals named have been identified as high-ranking officials.

Ten of the manuscripts include a brief commentary alongside the eponyms. The added text typically mentions the title of the official and an important event of the eponymous year.

6. External evidence

Hundreds of eponym-dated texts have been preserved and translated. Typically an administrative document includes the names of witnesses and an entry specifying the day, month and eponym year of PN [Personal Name].

A characteristic document detailing various government revenues registered the toll-collector Dilil-Issar among the several witnesses, and the text ends with the date and comment Month of Tishri, 25th day, year of eponym Arbailayu. Accounts made.

7. A yearly cycle

The phrase "year of eponym" is a rendering of the Akkadian limmu, a term that in some circumstances referred to a cycle other than the annual cycle of the sun. However, the limmu of the late Assyrian Empire undoubtedly corresponded to a solar year. The equivalence is seen in a text that specified the number of years from limmu PN1 to limmu PN2.

Further, the period of the limmu can be deduced from the Assyrian Kings List [AKL]. This catalog of Assyrian kings overlaps the Eponym List in the 8th and 9th centuries, and about a dozen kings appear on both lists. Overall the tally of eponyms that correspond to a king's reign closely matches the number of his regnal years registered in the AKL.

8. Traditions decline

During the early years, the Eponym List kept to a fairly regular pattern. The king served as eponym in the second year of his reign; the turtanu (commander of the army) was the next eponym, and so on down the pecking order of court officials and provincial governors.

Had this sequence continued to the end of the List, the dates of kings and hence the List could be directly linked to astronomical observations. Regrettably, the pattern is often irregular and the names of the last kings of the era do not appear on the List. Consequently the absolute dating of the eponyms was arrived at in a roundabout way.