Ancient Civilizations: Akkadian Dynasties (03 of 18) cover

Ancient Civilizations: Akkadian Dynasties (03 of 18)

By


The Akkadian Empire was an ancient Semitic empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in ancient Mesopotamia, which united all the indigenous Akkadian speaking Semites and the Sumerian speakers under one rule within a multilingual empire. The Akkadian Empire controlled Mesopotamia, the Levant, and parts of Iran.
The Akkadian Empire flourished in the 24th and 22nd centuries BCE ruled by Sargon and Naram-Sin, but eventually collapsed in 2154 BCE due to the invasion of barbarian peoples and large-scale climatic changes.
Includes one quiz question to secure your new found smarts!


Rating: 5 out of 5 stars on 2 reviews

"Very informative." 5 stars by




NoteStream NoteStream

NoteStreams are readable online but they’re even better in the free App!

The NoteStream™ app is for learning about things that interest you: from music to history, to classic literature or cocktails. NoteStreams are truly easy to read on your smartphone—so you can learn more about the world around you and start a fresh conversation.

For a list of all authors on NoteStream, click here.




Read the NoteStream below, or download the app and read it on the go!

Save to App


Ancient Civilizations: Akkadian Dynasties (03 of 18)

Objectives

The Akkadian Empire flourished in the 24th and 22nd centuries BCE ruled by Sargon and Naram-Sin, but eventually collapsed in 2154 BCE due to the invasion of barbarian peoples and large-scale climatic changes.

Learning Objective

• Describe the key political characteristics of the Akkadian Empire

Akkad Empire

Akkad Empire

The Akkadian Empire is pictured in brown.

The directions of the military campaigns are shown as yellow arrows.

Map by Sémhur, derivative work by Zunkir

(CC BY-SA 1.0)

Key Points

• The Akkadian Empire was an ancient Semitic empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in ancient Mesopotamia which united all the indigenous Akkadian speaking Semites and the Sumerian speakers under one rule within a multilingual empire.

• King Sargon, the founder of the empire, conquered several regions in Mesopotamia and consolidated his power by instating Akaddian officials in new territories. He extended trade across Mesopotamia and strengthened the economy through rain-fed agriculture in northern Mesopotamia.

• The Akkadian Empire experienced a period of successful conquest under Naram-Sin due to benign climatic conditions, huge agricultural surpluses, and the confiscation of wealth.

• The empire collapsed after the invasion of the Gutians. Changing climatic conditions also contributed to internal rivalries and fragmentation, and the empire eventually split into the Assyrian Empire in the north and the Babylonian empire in the south.

Terms

Gutians

a group of barbarians from the Zagros Mountains who invaded the Akkadian Empire and contributed to its collapse.

Akkadian Empire

an ancient Semitic empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in ancient Mesopotamia.

Sargon

the first king of the Akkadians, he conquered many of the surrounding regions to establish the massive multilingual empire.

Naram-Sin

an Akkadian king who conquered Ebla, Armum, and Magan, and built a royal residence at Tell Brak.

Cuneiform

one of the earliest known systems of writing, distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets, made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus.

Semites

Today, the word "Semite" may be used to refer to any member of any of a number of peoples of ancient Southwestern Asia descent including the Akkadians, Phoenicians, Hebrews (Jews), Arabs, and their descendants

Multilingual Empier

The Akkadian Empire was an ancient Semitic empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in ancient Mesopotamia.

It united all the indigenous Akkadian speaking Semites and the Sumerian speakers under one rule within a multilingual empire. The Akkadian Empire controlled Mesopotamia, the Levant, and parts of Iran.

Following the conquests by its founder Sargon of Akkad (2334 to 2279 BCE), and his successors, the Akkadian Empire reached its political peak between the 24th and 22nd centuries BCE. Akkad is sometimes regarded as the first empire in history, though there are earlier Sumerian claimants.

After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the Akkadian people of Mesopotamia eventually coalesced into two major Akkadian speaking nations: Assyria in the north, and, a few centuries later, Babylonia in the south.

Sargon Of Akkad

Sargon Of Akkad

Bronze head of a king, most likely Sargon of Akkad but possibly Naram-Sin.

Unearthed in Nineveh (now in Iraq). In the National Museum of Iraq, Baghdad. Height 30.5 cm.

Image created by Iraqi Directorate General of Antiquities.

Not eligible for copyright under US law.

Sargon and His Dynasty

It was claimed that Sargon was the son of La'ibum or Itti-Bel, a humble gardener, and possibly a hierodule, or priestess to Ishtar or Inanna.

There are later claims, on behalf of Sargon, that his mother was an "entu" priestess (high priestess). The claims might have been made to ensure a descendancy of nobility, considering only a high placed family can be made such a position.

Originally a cupbearer to a king Ur-Zababa of Kish, Sargon became a gardener, responsible for clearing out irrigation canals. This gave him access to a disciplined corps of workers who may also have served as his first soldiers. Displacing Ur-Zababa, Sargon was crowned king and entered upon a career of foreign conquest.

He invaded Syria and Canaan on four different campaigns, and he spent three years thoroughly subduing the countries of "the west" to unite them with Mesopotamia "into a single empire. "

Far Reaching

Sargon also conquered many of the surrounding regions to create an empire that reached westward as far as the Mediterranean Sea and perhaps even to Cyprus (Kaptara);

northward as far as the mountains (a later Hittite text asserts he fought the Hattian king Nurdaggal of Burushanda, well into Anatolia); eastward over Elam; and as far south as Magan (Oman) — a region over which he reigned for purportedly 56 years, though only four "year-names" survive.

He consolidated his dominion over his territories by replacing the earlier opposing rulers with noble citizens of Akkad whose loyalties were assured because they were from Sargon's native city. Trade extended from the silver mines of Anatolia to the lapis lazuli mines in Afghanistan, the cedars of Lebanon and the copper of Magan.

Stele

Stele

Stele of Naram-Sin celebrating victory against the Lullubi from Zagros 2260 BC.

He is wearing a horned helmet, a symbol of divinity, and is also portrayed in a larger scale in comparison to others to emphasize his superiority.

Limestone

Brought back from Sippar to Susa as war prize in the 12th century BC

Public Domain Image by Jastrow

Growing Power

This consolidation of the city-states of Sumer and Akkad reflected the growing economic and political power of Mesopotamia.

The empire's breadbasket was the rain-fed agricultural system of northern Mesopotamia (Assyria) and a chain of fortresses was built to control the imperial wheat production.

Sargon, throughout his long life, showed special deference to the Sumerian deities, particularly Inanna (Ishtar), his patroness, and Zababa, the warrior god of Kish.

He called himself "the anointed priest of Anu" and "the great ensi of Enlil. " His daughter, Enheduanna, was installed as priestess to Nanna at the temple in Ur.

Dynastic Challenge

Troubles multiplied toward the end of his reign, but Sargon managed to crush his opposition even in old age.

Difficulties broke out again in the reign of his sons, where revolts occurred during the 9-year reign.

Rimush (2278 to 2270 BCE), fought hard to retain the empire, was successful until he was assassinated by some of his own courtiers. Rimush's elder brother, Manishtushu (2269 to 2255 BCE) succeeded him and reigned for a period of 15 years. The latter king allegedly fought a sea battle against 32 kings who had gathered against him and took control over the country of what is today the United Arab Emirates and Oman. Despite that success, he was likely to have been assassinated in a palace conspiracy similar to his brother's.

Document

Document

Fragment of the alliance treaty between Naram -Sin , king of Akkad , and perhaps Khita king of Awan . Oldest known original diplomatic document , to 2250 BC.

Image by Groume

(CC BY 2.0)

Naram-Sin

Manishtushu's son and successor, Naram-Sin (Beloved of Sin) (2254 to 2218 BCE), assumed the imperial title "King Naram-Sin, King of the Four Quarters" (the "four quarters" being used here to reference the known world).

He was also, for the first time in Sumerian culture, addressed as "the god of Agade (Akkad). "

This represents a marked shift away from the previous religious belief that kings were only representatives of the people towards the gods. Though he faced revolts at the start of his reign, Naram-Sin quickly crushed them.

Productive

Naram-Sin conquered Ebla and Armum, the latter of which most scholars place in modern-day Syria or northern Iraq.

To better police Syria, he built a royal residence at Tell Brak, a crossroads at the heart of the Khabur River basin of the Jezirah. Naram-Sin also conquered Magan, put down subsequent revolts, and instated garrisons to protect the main roads.

Naram-Sin also campaigned against the Lullubi and ventured into Anatolia. This productive period of Akkadian conquest may have been based upon benign climatic conditions, huge agricultural surpluses and the confiscation of the wealth of other peoples.

Naram-Sin Inscription

Naram-Sin Inscription

Inscription of Naram-Sin telling the construction of the Marad temple by his grand-son Lipit-Ili

Circa 2250 BCE

Image by Rama

CC BY-SA 2.0 FR

Collapse of the Akkadian Empire

The Empire of Akkad collapsed in 2154 BCE, within 180 years of its founding.

The collapse ushered in a Dark Age period of regional decline that lasted until the rise of the Third Dynasty of Ur in 2112 BCE. By the end of the reign of Naram-Sin's son, Shar-kali-sharri (2217 to 2193 BCE), the empire had weakened significantly.

There was a period of anarchy between 2192 BC and 2168 BCE. Some centralized authority may have been restored under Shu-Durul (2168 to 2154 BCE), but he was unable to prevent the empire collapsing outright from the invasion of barbarian peoples known as the Gutians from the Zagros Mountains.

Gutian Period

Little is known about the Gutian period or for how long it lasted.

Cuneiform sources suggest that the Gutians' administration showed little concern for maintaining agriculture, written records, or public safety; they reputedly released all farm animals to roam about Mesopotamia freely, and soon brought about famine and rocketing grain prices.

The decline coincided with severe drought, possibly connected with climatic changes reaching all across the area from Egypt to Greece. The Sumerian king Ur-Nammu (2112 to 2095 BCE) later cleared the Gutians from Mesopotamia during his reign.

Global Drought

It has recently been suggested that the regional decline at the end of the Akkadian period (and of the First Intermediary Period that followed the Ancient Egyptian Old Kingdom)

was associated with rapidly increasing aridity, and failing rainfall in the region of the Ancient Near East, caused by a global centennial-scale drought.

Tell Leilan was abandoned soon after the city's massive walls were constructed, its temple rebuilt and its grain production reorganized. The debris, dust and sand that followed show no trace of human activity. Soil samples show fine wind-blown sand, no trace of earthworm activity, reduced rainfall and indications of a drier and windier climate.

Bassetki Statue

Bassetki Statue

Bassetki Statue, with Akkadian inscription, copper, 25.5x70cm, weighs 150KG

Public Domain Image By US State Dept.

Abandoned

Evidence shows that skeleton-thin sheep and cattle died of drought, and that up to 28,000 people abandoned the site in search of wetter areas elsewhere.

Tell Brak shrank in size by 75%. Trade collapsed. Nomadic herders such as the Amorites moved herds closer to reliable water suppliers, bringing them into conflict with Akkadian populations. This climate-induced collapse seems to have affected the whole of the Middle East, and to have coincided with the collapse of the Egyptian Old Kingdom.

Collapse

This collapse of rain-fed agriculture in the Upper Country meant the loss of the agrarian subsidies which had kept the Akkadian Empire solvent in southern Mesopotamia.

Water levels within the Tigris and Euphrates fell 1.5 meters below the level in 2600 BCE, and although they stabilized for a time between 2112 and 2004 BCE, rivalries between pastoralists and farmers increased.

Attempts were undertaken to prevent the former from herding their flocks in agricultural lands, such as the building of a wall known as the "Repeller of the Amorites" between the Tigris and Euphrates. Such attempts led to increased political instability; meanwhile, severe depopulation occurred to re-establish demographic equilibrium with the less favorable climatic conditions.

Akkadian Cylinder Seal

Akkadian Cylinder Seal

Cylinder Seal with King or God and Vanquished Lion

The scene on this seal features a central motif of a tree. On one side, a bearded hero is holding an inverted bovid; on the other, a bull man is holding an inverted lion. There are cuneiform inscriptions running through the scene in two places.

Public Domain Image courtesy Walters Art Museum

Question

Which of the following statements is correct regarding the Akkadian Empire?

A The shift away from the belief that kings were representatives of the people began with Naram-Sin

B The decline of the Akkadians may have been due to decreasing aridity and lack of rainfall

C The Akkadian Empire eventually collapsed into the Babylonian Empire

D The Akkadian Empire reached its political peak under King Zababa

Answer

A The shift away from the belief that kings were representatives of the people began with Naram-Sin

Boundless

(CC BY-SA 4.0)