The Akkadians - World History

The Akkadians - World History
Posted on 27-12-2022

The Akkadians ( 2500 ) Sargon of Akkad founds the first empire in history.

The second half of the third millennium was a time of great change. The Indo-European peoples of western Asia moved south. A Greek-speaking tribe occupied the north-eastern Balkans. At that time, the Indo-Europeans already knew about agriculture, although they opted more for livestock. Their weapons were made of stone, since they did not know metallurgy. In southern Greece, the native (non-Indo-European) population had long traded in bronze, obtained mainly from Cyprus. The Semitic peoples who had invaded Mesopotamia five centuries earlier began to emerge from their "dark ages." The city of Mari developed a mixed culture that preserved its Semitic language, but, for example, worshiped the Sumerian gods.

In Peru the first semi-subterranean houses appear, mostly in coastal areas or next to riverbeds, since their inhabitants were mainly fishermen.

In Egypt the V Dynasty was established, which reigned from 2500 to 2430, when the VI Dynasty (obviously) was established . Apparently, the monarch who succeeded Menkure was a priest of Ra, culminating in the political rise of this priestly body. Pyramid building declined. The Egyptians probably decided to invest their efforts in more useful things, such as reinforcing their armies.

Meanwhile, around 2425, the Elamites were united for the first time under the Awan dynasty. Centuries later, a tradition survived according to which this city had dominated Mesopotamia before the arrival of the Sumerians. It may be true and it may be that the legend was created from this period of splendor. By this time, the Elamites had already adapted the Sumerian script to their own language.

In Sumer around 2400 , Eannatum, king of the city of Lagash, presumably defeated the combined armies of Uruk and Ur. To commemorate his victories, Eannatum erected a series of stone columns or stelae bearing inscriptions and images. The most famous is the Stele of the Vultures, in which a formation of soldiers with helmets and spears is seen advancing on the corpses of the enemies devoured by dogs and vultures. According to the inscriptions, the defeated army was that of the city of Umma,that provoked the war by removing certain stones that marked the borders. Naturally, we do not know the version of the defeated. Lagash retained its preeminence for a little over a century. It came to dominate a territory of about 4,500 square kilometers. Their last king was Urukagina, who ascended the throne around the year 2350. Around this time the Semites created another powerful kingdom around the city of Ebla in Syria, near Phoenicia, which came to dominate many cities in the north of the crescent. fertile, from Anatolia and Upper Mesopotamia. The same thing happened with the city of Mari, which dominated many surrounding cities, including Assur.

Returning to Lagash, it seems that Urukagina was an enlightened king, who tried to promote social reforms to reduce the excessive power of the priests for the benefit of the people. However, the priests could come to have more power than the king over a people fearing the gods. Lagash was weakened by his internal convulsions and Umma found an opportunity to avenge his past defeat. At that time their king was Lugalzagesi, who seized Ur, proclaimed himself king of Uruk and, from there, in the year 2330 attacked Lagash and sacked it. He soon gained control of all of Sumer.

Naturally, if we know all these details, it is because from the year 2800 the Sumerians began to systematically use writing for historical and literary purposes (the Egyptians would do the same from 2100). The Sumerians of later centuries must have been surprised by the absence of records prior to 2800. Possibly it did not occur to them that the cause was that writing was previously unknown or, at least, that it still had a very restricted use. , so they conjectured that this must be the date of the Universal Flood,a legend about a huge flood that was possibly much older. The Sumerians located all their legends in the "antediluvian" time.

According to these legends, the world was created in seven days. The number seven is due to the fact that Sumerian astronomers had identified seven celestial bodies, apart from the stars: the Sun, the Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn. These stars were divinities that influenced men. The fate of a person strongly depended on the dominant star on the day and time of his birth. Each day was named according to the star that dominated its first hour, and thus the division of time into weeks of seven days arose.

The Sumerian king lists were completed with ten antediluvian kings, to whom reigns of tens of thousands of years were attributed. The last and most famous of these kings was Gilgamesh, King of Uruk. The legend of him is undoubtedly based on the historical Gilgamesh who reigned about 2700, but the legendary Gilgamesh was set before the Deluge, as was required. According to legend, he was a brave hero who performed incredible feats. After the death of a friend, he began to search for the secret of eternal life. Thus passed a long series of incidents. Among them he survived the deluge, caused by some angry gods. Another of the survivors was Utnapishtimwho, favored by the gods, built a ship in which he and his family were saved. The gods, without men to offer them sacrifices, were hungry, but Utnapishtim, when the Deluge had passed, sacrificed animals in thanksgiving. He says the poem :

The gods smelt its scent,
The gods smelt the sweet scent,
Like flies, they flocked over the sacrifice...

In gratitude, the gods bestowed on Utnapishtim the gift of immortality. He met with Gilgamesh and told him that he should look for a certain magical plant. He found it, but as he was about to eat it, a snake stole it (which explains the ancient belief that snakes rejuvenate by shedding their skin).

Another Semitic city that had achieved a certain splendor was Kish. While Lugalzagesi reigned in Uruk and exerted his influence over all of Sumer, the prime minister of the King of Kish managed to usurp the throne, whereupon he took the name Sargon , meaning "rightful King". His legitimacy must not have been so clear, since the new king preferred to move the court to a new capital founded by himself and not associated with the previous monarchy. This capital was Agade, or Acad, and from then on the king was known as Sargon of Accad. about 2300Sargon faced Lugalzagesi and defeated him. According to inscriptions commemorating him, this victory gave him dominance over all of Sumer, but it seems that he actually needed several more campaigns to achieve this goal. In any case, Sargon ended up dominating a large region of Mesopotamia that included all of Sumer and became known as the Akkadian Empire. Furthermore, he subdued the kingdom of Elam, leaving it under the rule of the king of Susa, one of the least prominent cities of his, which from this moment began to gain influence.


Sargon continued fighting and subjugating cities in the north and east, while the capital of Acad grew larger. For example, the city of Assur had recently freed itself from the rule of Mari, and established a monarchy of its own, but its kings became tributaries of Sargon. Mari herself would soon also submit to the Akkadian yoke. On the contrary, Ebla was about to defeat Sargon, who, however, managed to rebuild himself. Ebla retained its independence and became an important cultural center that absorbed Akkadian culture (which in turn had incorporated Sumerian culture). In its remains, numerous cuneiform tablets have been found written in Eblaite with legal, religious, diplomatic, administrative and economic. Sumerian-Eblaite dictionaries have even been found. According to Akkadian writings, Sargon reached the coast of Canaan in his campaigns.

The Akkadian Empire was the first historical empire in the sense of a people militarily dominating other foreign peoples. In this sense, the Egyptian Old Kingdom was not an empire, but a homogeneous culture that populated a vast territory. Sargon's rule was oppressive to the peoples he subjugated. Sumerian rulers in the south were replaced by brutal warriors, causing many riots that Sargon had to put down. On the other hand, Sargon established Akkadian as the official language of the empire and must have taken measures to promote it because, despite the prestige that Sumerian had, he ended up displacing it.

Undoubtedly, the entry of the conquering Akkadians into the cities of Sumer must have caused great confusion, aggravated by the fact that the newcomers spoke a language that almost no one understood. Perhaps the humblest people, whose vision of the world was reduced to their immediate surroundings, did not even understand why "suddenly" men had appeared who spoke such a strange language that they were now compelled to learn. It was natural to think of a punishment from the gods. Over time, when Sumer and Acad were erased from the memory of the people, the legend survived that there was a time when all men spoke the same language (that is, Sumerian), but that one day the gods punished them and sowed confusion by making them speak two different languages. On the other hand, the ziggurats were already monuments of the past and what people knew about them was that they had been built to get closer to heaven. This was true: many peoples with celestial divinities choose high places to be closer to their gods when making their sacrifices, and the ziggurats were the peculiar way that the Sumerians had to capture this idea. However, people matched both stories very well: the ancients built ever-higher towers with the intention of reaching the sky, but the gods got angry at this attempted "invasion" and prevented it by sowing confusion: they made them speak hundreds of different languages, so they could no longer work together and the project failed. Men dispersed according to their languages, and this was the reason why there were so many peoples in the world with so many different languages. For a matter of consistency, this legend had to be placed after the Deluge (the speakers of foreign languages ​​had not perished), which, on the other hand, also fit the story: perhaps the ancients wanted to reach heaven to save themselves in case The gods will cause another universal deluge. and this was the reason why there were so many peoples in the world with so many different languages. For a matter of consistency, this legend had to be placed after the Deluge (the speakers of foreign languages ​​had not perished), which, on the other hand, also fit the story: perhaps the ancients wanted to reach heaven to save themselves in case The gods will cause another universal deluge. and this was the reason why there were so many peoples in the world with so many different languages. For a matter of consistency, this legend had to be placed after the Deluge (the speakers of foreign languages ​​had not perished), which, on the other hand, also fit the story: perhaps the ancients wanted to reach heaven to save themselves in case The gods will cause another universal deluge.

Around 2300 a period of splendor began in the Indus Valley. The so-called Indus civilizationIt spread until it occupied a territory larger than the current Pakistan. Large brick cities were built with rectangular houses and 8-meter-wide streets, they had sanitary facilities, warehouses, swimming pools and a well-studied canal system. Its inhabitants cultivated wheat and barley, and the oldest remains of cotton cultivation have been found. They had a reduced script of 270 different signs (whose meaning is unknown), which have only been found on stamps, so they must have been merchandise identifications. The absence of temples in the cities is surprising, although objects of worship have been found, perhaps antecedents of the future religion of India. There were also no palaces, which raises many questions about the type of social structure of this culture. The most important capitals wereHarappa and Mohenjo-Daro. It is unknown if they were capitals of different states or if they were part of the same empire. There is evidence of intense maritime trade with Sumer.


At this time, the third king of the VI dynasty, Pepi I, a native of Memphis, reigned in Egypt. Libyan desert nomads began to harass the country, but were repulsed five times by Egyptian armies, led by a general named Uni. This general also consolidated Egypt's dominance over the metal-rich Sinai Peninsula, and even oversaw expeditions to Nubia, south of the first cataract of the Nile. The Old Kingdom thus reached its apogee. Pepi I probably decided that Egypt's longstanding trade relations with Phoenicia were unsatisfactory: the Canaanites paid little for Egyptian exports and charged a lot for their products. (When two people are negotiating and one has a powerful army at his command, he naturally comes to this conclusion.) The Phoenicians were urged to pay tribute to the king periodically, but some cities decided to refuse. Due, Uni led an expedition against Phoenicia: one column marched overland and another, carried by sea, landed south of Byblos. The army tore down walls, burned cities, destroyed crops, seized all manner of valuables, and no doubt got punished cities to agree to pay tribute.

Around the year 2280 Sargon of Acad died. Immediately, Sumer and the peoples of the Zagros Mountains saw in the king's death an opportunity to free themselves from Akkadian tyranny and revolted. However, Sargon was quickly succeeded by his eldest son Rimush, who, with the help of his brother Manishtusu, put down the revolts.

In 2272 the son of Pepi I ascended the throne of Egypt with the name of Pepi II. He was undoubtedly a child, for his reign lasted ninety years, and is apparently the longest in history.

In 2252 Naram-Sin, Sargon's grandson, occupies the throne of Acad. After putting down several internal revolts, Naram-Sin continued the imperial tradition of his grandfather, resuming expeditions to distant lands. in the 2200destroyed the flourishing kingdom of Ebla. To consolidate his authority, he had himself proclaimed god, organized a body of noble-functionaries who supervised or replaced local kings, and installed colonies of Akkadians in cities suspected of rebellion. Culture flourished at the Acad court. The Akkadian scribes developed and surpassed the Sumerian traditions. Although the language of the culture remained Sumerian, the merchants and the administration spoke Akkadian.

Meanwhile, as usual, the heavens reproduced the events of the earth: the Akkadian gods mixed with the Sumerians. It is easy to distinguish them because they have Semitic names. Furthermore, they are all celestial gods, as befits the cultures of shepherds. Thus  Sin, god of the moon, became the chief god of Ur (Naram-Sin means "beloved by Sin"); Ishtar, identified with the planet Venus, goddess of love and beauty, became the main goddess of Uruk, displacing the cult of Anu. This was acceptable, as Ishtar was soon discovered to be the daughter of Anu. There was also Shamash,god of the Sun, who did not achieve as much notoriety as his peers.

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