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Akkad ( Sumerian KUR URI KI , A.GA.DE KI ) was a city in Mesopotamia . In the late 3rd millennium BC It was raised to the center of his empire under Sargon of Akkad . This is called today after its capital as the Empire of Akkad or Akkadian Empire , the corresponding period of Mesopotamian history called the Akkad period (about 2340-2200 BC). In addition, the Semitic language of Mesopotamia , documented in various language levels and dialects up to the 1st century AD, is named after the city: Akkadian .

The location of the city was still known in the Neo-Babylonian and Persian times (6th / 5th centuries BC), but was later forgotten and is still not known today.


Due to the tradition that Sargon of Akkad was the cupbearer of the King of Kiš before the beginning of his rule , Akkad is sometimes assumed to be near Kiš (so still Hans J. Nissen , albeit without a specific suggestion of location). The identification with the location of Ischan Mizyad near Kiš could not be confirmed by archaeological excavations. With reference to the fact that, according to ancient sources, Akkad was part of the Elamite territory for a time, the tendency today is more towards a more northerly location, namely on the Tigris above the confluence of the Diyala and south of Aššur . After a localization in the area of ​​today's Baghdad could not be confirmed either, A. Westenholz as one of the best experts of the Akkad period assumes that the city is located under one of the great as yet unexplored hill of ruins near the confluence of the Adheim into the Tigris is located. Dietz-Otto Edzard's considerations , according to which Akkad should be looked for in the area of ​​the “bottleneck”, ie the area in which the Euphrates and Tigris come closest to each other , point in the same direction .

History of the city and its great empire

The first mention of the city comes from the time of Enschakushanna of Uruk , a ruler who was about a generation older than Sargon of Akkad. Enschakushanna named one of his reigns after the sack of Akkad. It follows that, contrary to older views, Sargon did not found the city himself; rather, Akkad was so important before Sargon that its looting was included in an annual designation.

Akkadian empire around 2300 BC Chr.

According to old traditions, Sargon of Akkad was the "cupbearer" (high official title, not servant at the table) of the king of Kiš before he himself became king - probably through the overthrow of his former master. By waging victorious wars against Lugal-Zagesi of Uruk, who held a kind of supremacy over southern Mesopotamia, including Kiš, he subjugated a larger territory, which he combined to form a centrally administered state. The fact that he made Akkad, which lies outside the old cultural centers, the center of this empire, i.e. none of the old Sumerian royal cities, has to do with the fact that his central state should be something new to the older Sumerian city-states . Therefore, a residence was recommended where no older city-state traditions were alive. At the same time it can be assumed that Sargon himself had family roots in Akkad and its surroundings. From there, with the help of relatives and other trusted people, such as friends of his tribe, he was able to build up a house power. The news known from Sargon's royal inscriptions that he appointed "sons of Akkad" as governors in his entire territory is understandable for such considerations. By setting up shop stewards over the subject areas, he created a close connection between the center of power and the individual areas belonging to the empire. The fact that Sargon was developing Akkad into the central capital is also evident from the information that he allowed ships that brought goods from distant countries to anchor in Akkad. Obviously he built a port in Akkad, which was hundreds of kilometers from the sea even with the more southern localization near Kiš, in order to maintain the “import monopoly” (Hans J. Nissen) of the new capital against the older Sumerian cities of the south to secure. The importance of the capital associated with this arises when one considers how important long-distance trade was for the raw material-poor Mesopotamia.

Sargon's founding of the state was successful: his kingdom was ruled by four of his descendants for three generations after him: He was followed by his sons Rimuš and Maništušu , his grandson Naram-Sin , who was the most important king of the kingdom of Akkad after Sargon, as well as his Son of Šar-kali-šarri , who lived until approx. 2200 BC. Ruled (see also: List of the kings of Akkad ). The central government has undoubtedly contributed to the success of the empire, but all Akkadian kings had to fight against resistance from regional forces. The great revolt against Naram-Sin, which was led by the ancient royal cities of Ur and Kiš, and which he apparently fought down with extreme exertion, is known. His victory left such a strong impression that the king was awarded divine honors as the city god of Akkad while he was still alive. Under Naram-Sin's son Sar-kali-šarri, however, the central power disintegrated more and more, after his death various candidates fought for the rule of the king, and the internal anomie made it possible for the Guteans , who invaded the Mesopotamian plains from the Zāgros Mountains, to seize the empire destroy. They then established a rule that was in the tradition of the kings of Akkad. In any case, the Guta king Erridu-pizir named the family god of the ancient Akkadian dynasty as his god in an inscription.

The kingdom of Akkad lived on in the historical memory of the ancient Orient . The most prominent example is a biblical note ( Gen 10,10f.  ) about Nimrod , in which Erech stands for Uruk , Shinar for Sumer and Aššur for Assyria :

“The core area of ​​his empire was Babel , Erech , Akkad and Kalne in the land of Shinar. From this country he moved to Aššur "

Nimrod was the first "mighty" on earth, that is, the first great king. It is generally admitted that behind the Nimrod figure there are memories of a Mesopotamian god or king, although it is disputed which specific figure should be thought of. The most plausible theory sees this as a reminder of Naram-Sin of Akkad, whose name perhaps to "Nimrod" spoof was. One of the most important kings of the first Mesopotamian empire would have become the first great king in historical memory, and this memory would have been preserved for many centuries among the neighboring peoples of the Mesopotamians. Other examples of the historical afterlife of the kingdom of Akkad are later stories about Sargon von Akkad and Naram-Sin, which originated or were handed down in Mesopotamia, but also among the Hittites .

As for the history of the city after the end of the Akkadian Empire, inscriptions from the time of the third Ur dynasty show that Akkad was still the seat of a provincial governor. In the prologue of the Codex Hammurapi it appears as a cult center of the ancient Babylonian period. King Nabonid of Babylon (555-539 BC) had excavations carried out in the area of ​​old Akkad. a. an inscription by the ancient Akkadian king Naram-Sin came to light. The last ancient mention of the city can be found in a document from the time of the Persian King Dareios I (522–486 BC).

Archeology of the Akkad period

Naram Sin Palace in Tell Brak

The most important sites of the Akkad period so far are the provincial residence in Tell Brak , the old palace in Aššur, a more complex settlement structure in Tell Asmar , the cities of Susa and Nineveh . The clay tablets found give information about the rulers of Akkad and their reigns. The bronze sculpture of the head of an unknown Akkadian ruler was found in Nineveh, which provides information about the artistic skills of that time. Among other things, the victory stele of Naram-Sin was found in Susa, which, like the bronze head and various cylinder seals, testify to the craftsmanship of the Akkad period. The arts and crafts of the Akkad period are very different from the previous and subsequent dynasties. Cylinder seals have more detailed, more individual and anatomically correct representations. The previously common item of clothing, the villi skirt , increasingly became the clothing of the gods, the human figures now wore simple, smooth robes.

So far, there are hardly any finds from the Akkad period that provide information about architecture or way of life. Attempts to reconstruct the history of the epoch on various levels (political, social ...) must therefore largely rely on text sources. Another problem is that most of the finds discovered so far in the 2nd millennium BC. Were carried off to Susa as booty and are therefore no longer in their original context.

Kings of Akkad


  • Dietz-Otto Edzard : History of Mesopotamia . From the Sumerians to Alexander the Great, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-51664-5 , pp. 76–95.
  • Hans J. Nissen : Basic features of a history of the early period of the Middle East. 3rd edition, Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1995, ISBN 3-534-08643-0 , pp. 183-213.
  • Gebhard J. Selz : Sumerians and Akkadians. History, society, culture. CH Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-50874-X , especially pp. 63–75.
  • H. Weiss: Akkade. In: The Oxford Encyclopedia of Archeology in the Ancient Near East. Volume I. Oxford University Press, New York 1997, ISBN 0-19-511215-6 , pp. 41-44.
  • Rainer Michael Boehmer: The development of glyptics during the Akkad period . Walter de Gruyter, Berlin 1965.
  • A. Westenholz: The Old Akkadian Period: History and Culture . In: Walther Sallaberger , A. Westenholz: Mesopotamien. Akkade period and Ur III period. Orbis biblicus et orientalis. 160/3. Universitätsverlag, Freiburg Schw 1999, 15–117, (on the city of Akkad see pp. 30–34). ISBN 3-525-53325-X

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