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“He Lied to the People, Saying ‘I Am Nebuchadnezzar’”: Issues in Authority Control for Rebels, Usurpers, Eccentric Nobility, and Dissenting Royalty

Gabriel Mckee


Current cataloging guidelines for creating name authority records (NARs) for royalty and nobility assume that an individual’s claim to a royal title is clear and unambiguous. In the case of historical rebels, usurpers, and eccentrics who claim royal titles for themselves, however, the guidelines are not so clear. When we attempt to describe people and places from a disputed past, we actively enter into their struggles for power, but rules documents like Resource Description and Access (RDA) do not address the question of the legitimacy of a claimed title. Fortunately, recent scholarship on self-determination in NARs for living creators and subject terminology for contested political jurisdictions can help us to develop more ethical practices for historical names of ambiguous legitimacy. This paper uses the Nidintu-Bēl/Nebuchadnezzar III, a rebel against the Achaemenid emperor Darius I named in the Behistun Inscription (6th century BCE), as a case study to establish best practices for the identity management of historical representatives of dissenting royalty.


Authority control, identity management, name authority records, royal naming conventions, dissenters, insurgency, eccentrics

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