Of Satraps and Generals: Discontinuity between Achaemenid and Seleukid Roles

Recorded: July 6, 2023
Event: Achaemenid Workshop 2
Citation: Cambruzzi, Valentina. "Of Satraps and Generals: Discontinuity between Achaemenid and Seleukid Roles." Pourdavoud Institute: Achaemenid Workshop 2 (July 6, 2023).

by Valentina Cambruzzi (University of Innsbruck)

The satrap ranks among the best-known Achaemenid offices in the Greek historiographical description. With the victory of Alexander the Great, the roles of the general and the satrap become distinct, giving rise to a discontinuity compared to the Achaemenid administration. Akkadian sources relating to the turbulent period from the death of the Macedonian until the settlement of the Seleukids demonstrate a number of changes including the separation of the roles of the general and the satrap, which proved fundamental to the management of the Babylonian territory during the Babylonian War, as it is mentioned in Greek sources like Diodorus. After the war, Mesopotamian sources indicate a continuation of the distinction between the two offices. One of the most known cases is the episode described in the astronomical diary ADART1 -273B in which the two characters are referred to separately and, apparently, with different management functions. This work focuses on recording and observing the occurrences of the offices of the satrap and the general (referred to as “of Akkad”) in Akkadian documents in the period between the conquest by Alexander and the reign of Antiochus III. Thanks to a philological analysis, the purpose is to confirm the distinction between the two roles in terms of different management areas in the new imperial administration as a result of the new needs that emerged during Alexander’s conquest and the Diadochs Wars.

About the Speaker

Valentina Cambruzzi is a PhD student at the University of Innsbruck. Her research interests concern the Seleukid Empire and the development of its imperial identity. She is interested in the representation of kingship in Mesopotamia in the 1st millennium BC and is expanding her interest into royal identity in ancient Macedonia and Greece. At the moment, she is focusing on the role of Antigonus Monophthalmus in the definition of Seleukid identity as a negative reference.