Empire ca. 2330-2220 BCE; originating from the Mesopotamian region Akkad, lands mainly the north of the heartlands of Sumer.
Part of a treaty between Akkad king, Naram-Sin, and possibly king Khita of Awan. Ca. 2250 BCE. Photo Groume
Victory stela of Naram-Sin. Ca. 2250 BCE.
Akkadian victory stela, ca. 2300 BCE. Louvre Museum, Paris.
Akkadian cylinder seal, showing kneeling heroes. Around 2200 BCE.
The main city of Akkad was Agade (never identified), and with the great conquests of the local king Sargon from around 2330 BCE came the first real Mesopotamian empire. For about a century, Agade was the richest and most important city in the world.
Dating of this period in Mesopotamian history is highly uncertain, variations between different scholars' chronologies can be up to 100 years. The dating used here, is among those placing Akkad furthest back in history.
Akkad emerged in a period of general war between the smaller city states across Sumer. Rising up as the most effective war power, no large kingdoms hindered the success of Sargon.
Akkad survived after 2220, but lost its provinces and became a small kingdom in between other Mesopotamian kingdom.
The fall of Akkad coincides with dramatic changes in the water supplies to Mesopotamia, and it is possible that this caused the empire's fall.
With the empire rising, the Akkadian king became stronger from his city-state elite, in which mainly the priesthood had great influence over the royal court. In the conquered lands, local kings or high priests became local governors. Also, the children of the king were positioned in strategic positions, like princesses becoming high priestesses of the foremost gods in Sumer, and princes governors of the most important cities.
The strength of the king is well illustrated with Naram-Sin elevating himself to a god, dingir, and had a temple built to himself.
Culture thrived during the Akkadians, both architecture and literature.
The economy of Akkad rested upon a rich agriculture at the time. The agriculture produced a limited number of products, making trade with foreign peoples important to secure access of products like metal and wood. This wealth this trade secured, motivated Akkad, and once in control of it, secured the empire's integrity.
Roads were built to connect the empire.
Around 2330: Sargon 1 the Great conquers all of Sumer, making his city, Agade, imperial capital. This became the beginning of the Akkadian dynasty. His kingdom came to be known as 'Sumer and Akkad'.
Ca. 2279: Sargon dies, and is succeeded by his son.
Ca. 2255: Naram-Sin becomes king, and proves an able conqueror as well as administrator, building administrative centres in Nagar and Nineveh, and organizing conquered lands into units directly under his bureaucracy, securing effective tax collection.
Around 2220: Akkad is conquered and sacked by the Gutians from the Zagros Mountains. The Gutians took control over Sumer as well, and a turbulent periods in Mesopotamian history begins. Akkad remains a small kingdom for at least 60 more years.
2160: The last known king of Akkad dies. Whether Akkad fell apart or survived as an insignificant kingdom is not known.
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