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Sargon that Akkad (r. 2334 - 2279 BCE) to be the king that the Akkadian empire of Mesopotamia, the first multi-national realm in history, who united the disparate kingdoms the the an ar under a central authority. He is equally well known today as the father of the good poet-priestess Enheduanna (l. 2285-2250 BCE), the very first author well-known by name in history.

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Sargon (also known as Sargon the Great, Shar-Gani-Sharri, and also Sarru-Kan, an interpretation "True King" or "Legitimate King") was born one illegitimate child of a "changeling", which can refer come a temple priestess that the goddess Innana (whose clergy to be androgynous) and, according to the Sargon Legend (a cuneiform clay tablet computer purporting to be his biography) never ever knew his father. His mother might not disclose her pregnancy or keep the child, and also so he was set adrift by she in a basket top top the Euphrates River where he was later uncovered by a guy named Akki that was a gardener because that Ur-Zababa, the King that the Sumerian city of Kish. Native this an extremely humble beginning, Sargon would rise to dominate all Mesopotamia.


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The Akkadian realm was the very first political entity to make extensive and efficient use of administration and administration on a huge scale and collection the typical for future rulers and also kingdoms. His story to be long well-known throughout Mesopotamia where, in time, he came to be considered the best man who had ever before lived, commemorated in glorious story down with the Persian Empire, in addition to his grand-son Naram-Sin.

The historian Paul Kriwaczek sums increase the affect Sargon had on later generations in Mesopotamia, writing, "for at least 1,500 years after his death, Sargon the Great, founder the the Akkadian Empire, was concerned as a semi-sacred figure, the patron saint of all subsequent realms in the Mesopotamian realm" (111). Also so, whereby he come from and also even his actual name space unknown.


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Early Life & climb to Power

`Sargon" was not the name offered him at birth yet the throne surname he decided for himself. That is a Semitic, not Sumerian, name and also so that is generally accepted that he to be a Semite. Nothing certain is recognized of Sargon"s birth or younger years. In fact, although his name was among the most famed in antiquity, he to be unknown come the modern world until 1870 when the archaeologist Sir Henry Rawlinson published the Legend that Sargon which he had found in the library that Ashurbanipal if excavating Nineveh in 1867. The Legend that Sargon reads:

My mom was a changeling, my father ns knew not,

The brothers of mine father love the hills,

My residence was in the highlands, where the herbs grow.


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In his capacity as cupbearer, Sargon had actually the king"s trust but this was placed to the test when a bordering king, Lugalzagesi or Umma, undertook a military project of conquest in the region. Ancient Mesopotamia (like ancient Greece) was dotted through many small city-states all of whom battled one another over productive territory and also water.

Lugalzagesi the Umma marched his military through the an ar of Sumer and conquered the city-states one by one, uniting all of them under his authority. He would be the very first Sumerian king to accomplish this come any good extent; and the last Sumerian king before the rise of Akkad. He appears to have earlier agreed to leave Kish alone but, after conquering Uruk, he chose to move on Kish. Bauer writes how, "Ur-Zababa, learning that the military of the conqueror to be approaching his city, flourished so frightened the he `sprinkled his legs""(97). He had grown suspicious of Sargon and, although there appears to it is in no evidence that the cupbearer had given him cause, decided to send him to Lugalzagesi ostensibly with an sell for peace.

Whether Ur-Zababa actually had in the blog post anything about terms and conditions is no known; what is recognized is that article asked Lugalzagesi to kill Sargon top top receiving it. For whatever reason, Lugalzagesi refuse to comply and also instead invited Sargon to sign up with him. Together, lock marched top top Kish and also took the city easily. Ur-Zababa escaped and went into hiding.


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Precisely what happened following is unclear fan to the plenty of legends which flourished up roughly Sargon"s life and also reign end the centuries. The is feasible that he had an affair through Lugalzagesi"s mam at this suggest or that he was sent on a mission which that turned into the first engagement that his own conquest of the region. Everything happened in between him and Lugalzagesi, they to be as easily antagonists together they had been allies.

Sargon marched top top Uruk and took it. Lugalzagesi marched his army from Kish to accomplish Sargon in battle and was defeated. Sargon then put him in chains, bound a rope around his neck, and took him come the city that Nippur, sacred to the god Enlil upon whom Lugalzagesi had actually relied, and also forced him come march in humiliation with the Enlil"s gate. Sargon determined for self the goddess Ishtar (Inanna) because that his magnificent protector and, through both Ur-Zababa and also Lugalzagesi out of the way, proclaimed himself king that Kish and swiftly subdued the region of Sumer.

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Map that the Akkadian Empire
Nareklm (GNU FDL)

Military campaigns & empire Building

When Sargon overthrew Lugalzagesi and also seized strength he acquired an currently united kingdom which he could use to benefit in military projects to establish the an initial empire over every one of Mesopotamia. He may have actually been aided in this by his own legend which established his humble backgrounds. Together in later ages and also other cultures, as much as the current day, course distinctions in the Sumerian cities had led come a growing resentment through the lower course for the upper elite. The wealthiest citizens were able to take it as lot land together they might hold and also the reduced classes consistently felt disenfranchised.

Sargon"s story of his humble beginnings as a gardener would have appealed to the large numbers of working-class Sumerians who may have actually seen him together a liberator and also reformer. Straight after his climb to power, however, the city-states and also their judgment elite hardly welcomed Sargon with grace and also submission; they rebelled against their new ruler, and also forced him to prove his legitimacy as king through military might.

After conquering Sumer, he either built a brand-new city or renovated an older one, Akkad (also well-known as Agade) top top the banks of the Euphrates River. This to be a complete break with precedent in that, previously, the king the an present city conquered an additional for the glory that the residence city and the resources which would currently be available. Sargon, ~ above the various other hand, dominated for no city, just for self and, when he had manage of the area, then developed his own city to reap the benefits of conquest. No content v what that had achieved thus far, he set out again ~ above campaign. Bauer writes:

With the Mesopotamian level under his control, Sargon set out come build an empire that stretched past Mesopotamia. He led this soldiers in campaign after campaign: `Sargon, the king of Kish," reads one of his tablets, `triumphed in thirty-four battles." He crossed the Tigris and seized land indigenous the Elamites. He battled his method north come the city of Mari, which he captured, and also then pushed even further right into the land of one more Semitic tribe, wilder and more nomadic than his very own Akkadians: the Amorites, who ranged throughout the floor west the the Caspian Sea. Campaigning up the Tigris, he reached and also conquered the little northern city of Ashur... After ~ this, he ranged even farther north and asserted his dominion over the equally small city of Nineveh...Sargon may even have attacked Asia Minor. (101)

He may additionally have taken Cyprus and claims to have marched to the Mediterranean Sea and also sent ships as much away as India for trade. That marched throughout Mesopotamia dominating one city-state ~ another and expanded his realm as far as Lebanon and also the Taurus hills of Turkey and also then went even further. That instituted armed forces practices of combining different varieties of fighting forces in looser formations (to enable greater mobility and also adaptability ~ above the field) which became standard under through the time of Alexander the Great. He swept across the land through his army until he had created the developed the first empire in the world. Kriwaczek writes:

There had actually been Mesopotamian heroes prior to of course. The renowned kings of at an early stage Uruk, choose Gilgamesh and also his father Lugalbanda, to be the protagonists the a series of fantastical accounts and also tales of outlandish deeds that became mainstays the the Sumerian literary canon and were copied and also recopied inscribal schools and palace scriptoria for centuries, periodically millennia. But they belong to the age of mythology fairly than heroic legend; they told of intimate intercourse with the gods, battles with fearful monsters, the find for immortality and extraordinary other-worldly adventures. V the introduction of Sargon, his sons and grandsons, the tales become, no necessarily much more believable, however at least centred ~ above the here-and-now that earthly life. (113)

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The Akkadian Empire

Forming realm is one thing; but keeping it operation is quite another. Still, in administration, Sargon confirmed himself as qualified as he was in army conquest. In bespeak to preserve his visibility throughout his empire, Sargon strategically put his best and also most trusted guys in positions of power in the miscellaneous cities. The "Citizens that Akkad", as a later Babylonian message calls them, were the governors and administrators in over 65 various cities.

One that his engravings reads: "From the sea above to the sea below, the young of Akkad organized the chiefdoms the his cities" and also Bauer notes how, "In this kingdom, the Sumerians rapidly discovered themselves living together foreigners in their very own cities...When Sargon took end a city, it came to be an Akkadian stronghold, staffed with Akkadian officials and garrisoned v Akkadian troops (99). Sargon"s location of trusted officials attracted the assorted regions much more closely under his control.

Sargon additionally cleverly inserted his daughter, Enheduanna, together High Priestess the Inanna in ~ Ur and, v her, seems to have able to manipulate religious, political, and cultural affairs from afar. Enheduanna is known today together the world"s first writer well-known by surname and, indigenous what is recognized of her life, she appears to have actually been a an extremely capable and powerful administrator in enhancement to her literary talents.

The stability listed by this empire gave increase to the construction of roads, boosted irrigation, a broader sphere of influence in trade, as well as advances in arts and sciences. The Akkadian Empire developed the very first postal mechanism where clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform Akkadian script were sheathe in external clay envelopes marked with the surname and resolve of the recipient and the seal of the sender. This letters can not it is in opened other than by the human they were intended for due to the fact that there to be no means to open up the clay envelope save by break it, therefore ensuring privacy in correspondence.

Sargon also standardized weights and measures for usage in trade and also daily commerce, initiated a mechanism of tax which to be fair to every social classes, and engaged in numerous building projects such together the repair of Babylon (which, follow to some sources, he founded - though this claim has been repetitively challenged). He additionally created, trained, and equipped a full-time army - at least in the city the Akkad - where, together an engraving reads, 5400 soldiers "ate bread daily" with the king. If this does no seem to it is in the type of professional army later created by the Assyrian king Tilgath Pileser III, (as it seems it was neither year-round nor retained in a near-constant state that mobilization) it was a an excellent advance end the armies of the previous filled by unwilling conscripts.


Even v these renovations to the lives of the citizen of Mesopotamia, the world still rebelled versus Akkadian rule. Throughout his life Sargon would proceed to conference uprisings together city-states asserted your autonomy and rose against the empire. Together the century passed, however, whatever obstacles they had with Sargon"s rule were forgotten and all the was remembered to be his heroic feats and the `golden age" of the Akkadians. For the next 3,000 year the Babylonians would certainly tell tales of the majesties who rose versus Sargon that Akkad and also of his glorious victories, citing Sargon"s own words indigenous his purported autobiography:

In mine old period of 55, every the lands revolted against me, and also they besieged me in Agade but the old lion still had actually teeth and also claws, i went soon to battle and also defeated them: ns knocked lock over and destroyed their huge army. Now, any type of king who desires to contact himself mine equal, wherever i went, let him go!

According to the Sumerian king list, Sargon reigned for 56 years and also died in old age of natural causes. If he had actually seemed bigger than life to his people during his reign, he assumed an practically god-like condition in death. Kriwaczek writes:

Up till now, world based itself upon the belief that mankind was created by gods because that their very own purposes. The cities, the repositories the civilization, were magnificent foundations, having actually started, we guess, together sacred pilgrimage centres. Every city to be the creation and home of a specific god. It is together if `real life" was the one live by the gods in the divine realm while what went on down below on planet was a mainly irrelevant sideshow. The period of Sargon and Naram-Sin altered all that, switched the focus to the person world, and introduced a new conception of the definition of the universe: one that made world rather than gods the principal subjects of the Mesopotamian story. Humanity was currently in control. Men - and women - came to be rulers of their own destiny. To it is in sure, civilization were quiet pious, still gift sacrifices come the temples, readily available the libations, performed the rites, invoked the gods" names at every opportunity. But the piety that the period now had a quite various flavour. (119)

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Legend & Legacy

The legends which prospered up about Sargon and also his empire were still being written, copied, and performed in the critical days that the Assyrian empire (612 BCE) and the famous copper head of Sargon (found in ~ Nineveh in 1931, making clean his importance to the Assyrians) is among the most instantly recognizable works of Mesopotamian art. The story the the baby set forth in a basket on the river, that is discovered by nobility and also grows as much as be a good leader that his people, was supplied to an excellent effect by the Hebrew scribe who obtained it to write the biblical publication of Exodus and also the story that the hero Moses.

Sargon"s story is the tale of the hero who rises native obscure beginnings to conserve his people. Whether he was seen as this type of savior through those that lived under his regime is cynical considering the number of rebellions he had actually to put down but to those who came after ~ him, those who lived under the occupation that the Gutians (described by scholar Samuel noah Kramer together demoralizing, destructive, and "a ruthless, barbaric hoarde"), he and his empire represented the glorious period of hero-kings i beg your pardon was now gone.

The tales of Sargon room thought to have actually inspired the Sumerians to rise up and throw turn off the opening Gutian rule in c. 2046 BCE. Under the Sumerian kings Utu-Hegal and Ur-Nammu, the Gutians were pushed from Sumer which permitted for the flourishing of the so-called Sumerian Renaissance (2047-1750 BCE). The good Sumerian majesties of the Ur III Period, Ur-Nammu (reigned 2047-2030 BCE) and also Shulgi that Ur (reigned 2029-1982 BCE) both patterned your public images after those of Sargon and also Naram-Sin.

After Sargon"s death, the realm passed to his boy Rimush, that was compelled to endure what his father had and also put down the rebellions which challenged his legitimacy. Rimush reigned for nine years and, once he died, the kingship passed to Sargon"s various other son, Manishtusu who ruled for the next fifteen years. Though both sons ruled well, the height of the Akkadian realm was establish under Sargon"s grandson, Naram-Sin. During his reign, the empire grew and also flourished beyond the boundaries even Sargon had attained. After his death, his boy Shar-Kali-Sharri became ruler and, in ~ this time, the empire began to unravel as city-states damaged away to type their very own independent kingdoms.

Shar-Kali-Sarri waged almost continual war against the Elamites, the Amorites and also the invading Gutians when trying to hold the realm together but, finally, it dropped apart. The Gutian Invasion has been most commonly credited through the collapse of the Akkadian Empire and also the Mesopotamian dark age which ensued and this was definitely the check out of later Mesopotamian authors who depicted the Gutians as destroyers the civilization.

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Recent studies, however, suggest that it to be most likely climate adjust which brought about a famine and, perhaps, disruption in trade, weakening the realm to the suggest where the kind of invasions and rebellions i m sorry were easily met and put down in the past can no longer be regulated as effectively. Famine is alluded to in a later work known as The Curse that Agade (written c. 2047-1750 BCE) which speak of the destruction of Akkad by the will of the gods. Whether famine, invasion, the wrath of the gods, or all three, the city the Akkad fell, the great kings were gone, and the realm passed right into the legends which would be told, re-told, written, and copied until the story of what when was became all that was left that the Akkadian empire of Sargon the Great.