Sargon of Akkad
Sargon of Akkad
The Akkadian version of Sargon's name is Sharru-kin, which means "the true king". He was known as Nimrod to the Hebrews.
"My mother was a changeling, my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azupiranu, which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My changeling mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki, the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and [?] years I exercised kingship. The black-headed people I ruled, I governed mighty mountains with chip-axes of bronze I conquered." When he grew up, he entered the service of Ur-Zababa, the king of Kish and eventually usurped the thrown. He then managed to conquer nearby kingdoms beginning with Uruk. The ruling monarch, Lugal-anne-mundu, had conquered all the city states of Sumeria, so Sargon inherited a large kingdom.
Eventually all of Mesopotamia came under his rule. The empire stretched as far as Lebanon and Anatolia in the West, the Persian Gulf in the South and Elam (a Dravidian people) in the East and traded silver, cedar wood and lapis lazuli with the Indus Valley, the Arabian peninsula, Anatolia and Crete. There is even mention of a distant "Tin Country."
As in all empires, there were many uprisings, but Sargon crushed them, leading armies of chariots and spearmen into battle, as described in a Babylonian text:
"In his old age, all lands revolted against him, and they besieged Akkad. But Sargon went forth to battle and defeated them; he knocked them over and destroyed their vast army. Later, Subartu in their might attacked, but they submitted to his arms, and Sargon settled their habitations, and he smote them grievously." Under Sargon's rule, Akkadian became the language of the region displacing the older Sumerian.
Sargon ruled for 56 years, and was succeeded by his son, Rimuc. He was quickly assassinated and the empire passed to Sargon's young grandson, Naram-Sin who was another able ruler expanding the empire to its maximum extent. Once he died the empire soon collapsed under invasion around 2100 BC, splitting into a number of small kingdoms.
The writings of Enheduanna make her the first author in history known by name. Her name means "The High Priestess [named] Ornament of the Sky". This is part of one of her hymns:
"Because of you, all had been ripped away even before the battle.|
My Queen! With your strength a tooth can even crush flint!
Like an invasive storm you barge in.
With the howling storm you howl.
With Iskur you thunder.
With raging thunderstorm you do exhaust, while your own foot has never yet tired.
With the harp of laments one strikes up a song of lamentation
This essay is dedicated to the people of Mesopotamia (Iraq).
All images external copyright.
Sargon of Akkad
Wikipedia encyclopaedia's account.
Classical Akkad (2370-c. 2004)
Art from the Akkadian Empire (much of it from the now looted museum in Baghdad).
A site covering Enheduanna and her writings.