Akkadian history - Mesopotamia
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Akkadians

Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad (maybe)

September 2016 - Sargon of Akkad gradually conquered the area between the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers around 2300 BC. The Akkadians spoke a Semitic language, like the Amorites. Sargon, according to Sumerian literature, was born to an Akkadian high priestess and a poor father, maybe a gardener. His mother abandoned him by putting him in a basket woven out of reeds and letting it float away down the river (like Moses a thousand years later). But Sargon was rescued, made friends with the goddess Ishtar, and was brought up in the king's court.

When Sargon grew up, he built himself a new city at Akkad, and made himself the king of it. Then he gradually conquered all the land around him. Sargon built the first empire that we know of: the Akkadian Empire.

Sargon also brought to West Asia the new idea that when a king died, his son should be the next king; before this the rich men of each city had elected their new king.

stone carving of a procession of women
Enheduanna in a procession (she's
the one in the fancy dress)

Sargon also helped to unify his empire by making his daughter Enheduanna the high priestess for life of the moon god Nanna at Ur, and also the high priestess of the sky god An at Uruk. Enheduanna became very powerful. She also wrote two long sets of hymns (songs for the gods), both of which insist that it is good and natural for Sargon's empire to be unified. She is the first author whose name we know, man or woman, anywhere in the world.

Stele of Naram-Sin
Naram-Sin attacking a mountain

Sargon's sons succeeded him as king of the Akkadians when he died, first one and then the other. When they were assassinated (first one and then the other), Sargon's young grandson Naram-Sin became king. Naram-Sin ruled a very long time - 56 years! - and very successfully. His Akkadian Empire stretched from Lebanon on the Mediterranean coast, up north into what's now Turkey and south to the Persian Gulf.

Naram-Sin's own son Shar-kali-Sharri became the next Akkadian king, but Shar-kali-Sharri failed to hold the Akkadian Empire together, and around 2100 BC the empire gradually fell apart into a bunch of small kingdoms and cities as it had been under the Sumerians.

Learn by doing: draw your own stele showing how great you are
Akkadian Art
Ziggurats
The Third Dynasty of Ur

Bibliography and further reading about the Akkadians:

Mesopotamia, by Pamela Service (1998). Down to the Persian conquest of the area.

Find Out About Mesopotamia: What Life Was Like in Ancient Sumer, Babylon and Assyria, by Lorna Oakes (2004).

Ancient Mesopotamians, by Elena Gambino (2000). Retellings of Mesopotamian stories and lots of context.

Ancient Near Eastern History and Culture, by William H. Stiebing (2002). Expensive, and hard to read, but it's a good up to date account.

Akkadian art
The Third Dynasty of Ur
West Asian history
Ancient West Asia
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 28 June, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT