HAMĀRAKARA (*hmāra-kara-, lit. “account-maker”), “bookkeeper,” an Old Iranian title attested in various sources of Achaemenid and later times. It occurs in Babylonian documents in the following spellings: ḫammarakara, ammarkarra/ammari(/u)akal. Wolfram von Soden (p. 44) considered these forms as separate words, the latter having the meaning “Proviantmeister” (see, however, Greenfield, p. 181, n. 8). All the individuals who bore this title in cuneiform texts, to judge by their personal names, were Babylonian. It first appears in a document from Babylon drafted during the reign of Darius I (see Eilers, p. 57). Except for this document and Royal Ontario Museum Cuneiform Texts (II, No. 35), all other references to this title come from the archive of the Murašû business firm, which flourished in the Nippur region in the second half of the 5th century B.C.E. (see Eilers, pp. 43-59; The Assyrian Dictionary VI, pp. 59 f.; add now Stopler, No. 108). The bearers of this title were agents of the firm, a “bookkeeper of the king” and a bookkeeper of the important Persian dignitary Artaḫšar. They are mainly mentioned as witnesses to legal transactions.

The earliest Aramaic occurrence of this title is in an Aramaic postscript to an Elamite document composed in the Persepolis area in 504 B.C.E. in the form hmrkrʾ (Hallock, p. 140, No. 281). It also appears in an Aramaic document from Elephantine, according to which “accountants (hmrkry) of the treasury” were to issue some materials needed to repair a boat (Porten and Yardeni, p. 99, No. A 6.2). This title is also attested in letters of Aršāma, the Persian satrap of Egypt in the second half of the 5th century B.C.E., addressed to the manager of his estates in that country and to “the accountants” (hmrkʾ, see Driver, Nos. 8-10). It is also known from Parthian and Sasanian bullae, where it is applied to finance ministers of various districts (in Parthian: ʾḥmrkr, the Pahlavi forms are: ḥmʾlkly and ʾmʾlkly, see Greenfield, pp. 181 f.) as well as from Nisa texts of the 1st century B.C.E. in the form ʾḥmrkr (see Dyakonov and Livshits, pp. 146 f.). This word also entered Hebrew, Armenian, and Syriac (Greenfield, pp. 182-86).

See also ĀMĀRGAR



Muhammad A. Dandamaev, Iranians in Achaemenid Babylonia, Columbia Lectures on Iranian Studies, Costa Mesa, Calif., 1992, pp. 36-37.

Muhammad A. Dandamaev and Vladimir Lukonin, The Culture and Social Institutions of Ancient Iran, tr. Philip L. Kohl, Cambridge etc., 1989, pp. 97, 112.

Igor Mikhailovich D’yakonov (Diakonoff) and V. A. Livshits, “Novye nakhodki dokumentov v Staroĭ Nise,” Peredneaziatskiĭ Sbornik 2, Moscow, 1966.

Godfrey Rolles Driver, ed. and tr., Aramaic Documents of the Fifth CenturyB.C., Oxford, 1965.

Wilhelm Eilers, Iranische Beamtennamen in der keilschriftlichen Überlieferung, pt. 1, Abhandlungen für die Kunde des Morgenlandes 15, 3, Leipzig, 1940.

Jonas C. Greenfield, “*Hmarakara>ʾamarkal,” in Mary Boyce and Ilya Gershevich, eds., W. B. Henning Memorial Volume, London, 1970, pp. 180-86.

Richard T. Hallock, Persepolis Fortification Tablets, Chicago, 1969.

Bezalel Porten and Ada Yardeni, eds. and trs., Textbook of Aramaic Documents from Ancient Egypt I, Jerusalem, 1986.

Royal Ontario Museum Cuneiform Texts II, Toronto, 1982.

Wolfram von Soden, Akkadisches Handwörterbuch, Wiesbaden, 1959.

Matthew W. Stolper, Entrepreneurs and Empire. The Murašû Archive, the Murašû Firm, and Persian Rule in Babylonia, Inst. Néerlandais de Stamboul 54, Leiden, 1985; see also Veysel Donbaz and Matthew W. Stolper, Istanbul Murašû Texts, Inst. Néerlandais de Stamboul 79, Leiden, 1997, No. 110.

The Assyrian Dictionary of the Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago VI, Glückstadt, 1956.

(Muhammad A.Dandamayev)

Originally Published: December 15, 2003

Last Updated: March 6, 2012

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