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Akkadian Empire

Map of the Akkadian Empire

The Akkadian Empire was an empire consisting of Semitic peoples that spoke the Semitic language of Akkadian and Sumerian (which declined later on in the empire). They were one of the first empires in Mesopotamia, the empire united the Sumerians and Akkadians.

Its capital was the city Akkad (also known as Agade) which is also mentioned in the bible.[1] The city was one of the most prosperous regions of the ancient world and was possibly built by Sargon of Akkad. The location is estimated to be close to the city of Eshnunna on the east of the Tigris river.


The founder of the Akkadian Empire was the semite Sargon of Akkad, a high official who after putsch the king of kish and taking the power of the city waged war in Mari, Jarmuti, and Ibla, leading to the empire's peak.[2] The language of the Akkadians spread to neighbors who were conquered, mostly in Persia, that being Elam and Gutium.

His two sons succeeded him, Rimush (2278-70 b.c.e.) and Manishtushu (2269-55 b.c.e.), who had military success of their own by suppressing rebellions and campaigning from northern Syria to western Iran. Yet it was Manishtushu’s son Naram-Sin (2254-18 b.c.e.) who took the empire to its pinnacle. He established and maintained control from eastern Turkey to western Iran. In contrast to his grandfather who was deified after his death, Naram-Sin claimed divinity while he was still alive.

The rule of Naram-Sin’s son Shar-kali-sharri (2217-2193 b.c.e.) was mostly prosperous, but by the end of his reign, the Akkadian Empire controlled only a small state in northern Babylonia. Upon Shar-kalisharri’s death anarchy ensued until order was restored by Dudu (2189-2169 b.c.e.) and Shu-Durul (2168-2154 b.c.e.), but these were more rulers of a city-state than kings of a vast empire. The demise of the Akkadian Empire can be explained by internal revolts from local governors as well as external attacks from groups such as the Gutians, Elamites, Lullubi, Hurrians, and Amorites. The Akkadian Empire set the standard toward which Mesopotamian kings throughout the next two millennia strove. Because of this, much literature appeared concerning the Akkadian kings, especially Sargon and Naram-Sin.

In the Sargon Legend, which draws upon his illegitimate birth, Sargon is placed in a reed basket in the Euphrates before he is drawn out by a man named Aqqi and raised as a gardener. From this humble be¬ ginning Sargon establishes himself as the king of the first Mesopotamian empire.

The King of Battle is another tale of how Sargon traveled to Purushkhanda in central Turkey to save the merchants there from oppression. After defeating the king of the city, Nur-Daggal, the local ruler is allowed to continue to govern as long as he acknowledges Sargon as king. Naram-Sin, however, is often portrayed as incompetent and disrespectful of the gods. In The Curse of Akkad, Naram-Sin becomes frustrated because the gods will not allow him to rebuild a temple to the god Enlil, so he destroys it instead. Enlil then sends the Gutians to destroy the Akkadian Empire.

As we know, however, the Akkadian Empire continued to have 25 prosperous years under Shar-kali-sharri after the death of Naram-Sin, and the Gutians were not the only reason for the downfall of the Akkadian Empire. There is no evidence that the Gutians caused problems for the Akkadians until late in the reign of Shar-kali-sharri. Although this story had an important didactic purpose, it shows that caution must be used in reconstructing the history of the Akkadian Empire from myths and legends.

In the Cuthean Legend, Naram-Sin goes out to fight a group that has invaded the Akkadian Empire. Naram-Sin seeks an oracle about the outcome of the battle, but since it is negative, he ignores it and mocks the whole process of divination. As in The Curse of Akkad, Naram-Sin’s disrespect of the gods gets him in trouble as he is defeated three times by the invaders. He finally seeks another oracle and receives a positive answer. Naram-Sin has learned his lesson: “Without divination, I will not execute punishment.” Despite these tales, others paint Naram-Sin in a more positive light as an effective king with superior military capabilities.

Along with a centralized government comes standardization. This included the gradual replacement of Sumerian, a non-Semitic language, with Akkadian, an East Semitic language, in administrative documents. Dating by year names, that is naming each year after a particular event such as “the year Sargon destroyed Mari,” became the system used in Babylonia

Kings of Akkad[]

See Also[]


  1. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2010%3A10&version=KJV
  2. Zettler (2003), p. 20. "Brinkman's chronology places Sargon's accession at 2334, his successors, Naram-Suen and Sharkalisharri, under whom the dynasty presumably collapsed, at 2254–2218 and 2217–2193, respectively, and the Third Dynasty of Ur at 2112–2004. however, Brinkman noted that if Hallo's 40 year Gutian interregnum is correct then the Dynasty of Akkade would have to be dated 2293–2113. The middle chronology, however, is under attack, with various scholars arguing strongly in favor of a low(er) chronology and for various reasons. Without going into detail, Boese has placed Sargon's accession at shortly after 2250 (1982), Gasche, Armstrong, Cole and Gurzadyan at 2200 (1998) and Reade at 2180 (2001), with the Third Dynasty of Ur moved according."

Franke, Sabina. “Kings of Akkad: Sargon and Naram-Sin.” In Sasson, Jack, ed. Civilizations of the Ancient Near East. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1995; Gadd, C. J. “The Dynasty of Agade and the Gutian Invasion.” In I. E. S. Edwards, C. J. Gadd, and N. G. L. Elammond, eds. The Cambridge Ancient History, 3rd ed., Vol. 1, Part 2, pp. 417-463. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1971.