Ancient Civilizations: Akkadian Life (#4 of 18)
The Akkadian empire had a monarchical form of government which relied on important alliances and an economy that supported high amounts of agricultural surplus, which led to many cultural achievements in language, literature, and bureaucracy. It formed a formed a "classical standard" with which all future Mesopotamian states compared themselves.
During the 3rd millennium BCE, a very intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism. Sumerian literature continued in rich development during the Akkadian period.
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THE Akkadian empire had a monarchical form of government which relied on important alliances and an economy that supported high amounts of agricultural surplus, which led to many cultural achievements in language, literature, and bureaucracy.
• Explain the basis and function of the Akkadian economy
• Describe the major cultural achievements of the Akkadians
Map of the Akkadian Empire (brown) and the directions in which military campaigns were conducted (yellow arrows)
Middle East topographic map
Sémhur derivative work: Zunkir
• The Akkadians legitimized rulership through divine consent, and the title of "king" was eventually elevated to the rank of the divine under Naram-Sin.
• The Akkadian rulers solidified their power by installing daughters as high priestesses to Sin, sons as provincial governors in strategic locations, and marrying his other daughters to rulers in peripheral parts of the empire.
• The Akkadian economy produced large amounts of agricultural surplus but little else, and thus relied on trade and conquest to secure access to other resources. The agricultural economy was highly seasonal and depended on rainfall in the north and irrigation in the south.
Key Points (Cont.)
• During the 3rd millennium BCE, a very intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism and is evident from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence.
• Sumerian literature continued in rich development during the Akkadian period. The works of Enheduanna, a poet-priestess, are significant because they start out using the third person and shift to the first person voice of the poet herself, which marks a significant development in the use of cuneiform.
• Akkadian culture also produced roads, a postal service, stamps, surveys, astronomical logs, and an empire-wide calendar.
the artificial application of water to the land or soil.
the process of increasing salt content in soil.
the fifth king of Uruk, modern day Iraq who reigned ca. 2500 BC
a poet-priestess and daughter of Sargon.the artificial application of water to the land or soil.
one of the earliest known styles of writing, distinguished by its wedge-shaped marks on clay tablets and made by means of a blunt reed for a stylus.
the highest functionary of Sumerian city-states.
Akkadian Victore Stele
Victory stele of an Akkadian king, fragment. Diorite, Akkad Period (ca. 2300 BC), brought to Susa as a war spoil in the 12th century BC. Found in Susa.
The Akkadian government formed a "classical standard" with which all future Mesopotamian states compared themselves.
Traditionally, the ensi was the highest functionary of the Sumerian city-states. In later traditions, one became an ensi by marrying the goddess Inanna, legitimizing the rulership through divine consent.
Initially, the monarchical lugal (lu = man, gal = great) was subordinate to the priestly ensi, and was appointed in times of trouble, but by later dynastic times, it was the lugal who had emerged as the preeminent role and had his own palace independent from the temple establishment.
By the time of Mesalim, whichever dynasty controlled the city of Kish was recognized as šar kišati (king of Kish), and was considered preeminent in Sumer, possibly because both the Tigris and the Euphrates approached the city, and whoever controlled Kish ultimately controlled the irrigation systems of the other cities downstream.
As Sargon extended his conquest from the "Lower Sea" (Persian Gulf), to the "Upper Sea" (Mediterranean), he portrayed his rule as "the totality of the lands under heaven",
or "from sunrise to sunset", as contemporary texts described his rule. Under Sargon, the ensis generally retained their positions, but were seen more as provincial governors. The title šar kišati became recognized as meaning "Lord of the Universe. "
Sargon is even recorded as having organized naval expeditions to Dilmun (Bahrain) and Magan, which were amongst the first organized military naval expeditions in history. Whether he also did this with the Mediterranean kingdom of Kaptara (possibly Cyprus), as claimed in later documents, is more questionable.
Clay tablet relating the birth of Sargon and his quarrel with king Ur-Zababa of Kish. Tablet from paleo-Babylonian period (beginning of the 2nd millenium BC).
With Naram-Sin, Sargon's grandson, titular honors went even further than they did with Sargon.
The king was now not only being called "Lord of the Four Quarters (of the Earth)", but also elevated to the ranks of the dingir (gods), with his own temple establishment. Previously a ruler could, like the legendary Gilgamesh, become divine after death but the Akkadian kings, from Naram-Sin onward, were considered gods on earth in their lifetimes.
Their portraits showed them of larger size than mere mortals and at some distance from their retainers.
Both Sargon and Naram-Sin maintained control of the country by installing various members of their family in important positions around the empire.
Their daughters, Enheduanna and Emmenanna respectively, became high priestesses to Sin (the Akkadian version of the Sumerian moon deity, Nanna) at Ur, in the extreme south of Sumer. Their sons, meanwhile, became provincial ensi governors in strategic locations. Other daughters were married to rulers of peripheral parts of the Empire (Urkesh and Marhashe).
Victory Stele Of Naram Sin
Image by Rama
The population of Akkad, like nearly all pre-modern states, was entirely dependent upon the agricultural systems of the region.
These seem to have had two principal centers: the irrigated farmlands of southern Iraq and the rain-fed agriculture of northern Iraq, known as the "Upper Country. "
Southern Iraq during Akkadian period appears to have approached its modern rainfall level of less than one inch per year, with the result that agriculture was entirely dependent upon irrigation. Before the Akkadian period, the progressive salinization of the soils, produced by poorly drained irrigation, had been reducing yields of wheat in the southern part of the country. This occurrence led to the farming of more salt-tolerant barley.
Urban populations there had peaked already by 2600 BCE, and ecological pressures were high, which contributed to the rise of militarism immediately before the Akkadian period.
Warfare between city states had led to a population decline. Akkad provided a temporary respite. It was the high degree of agricultural productivity in the south that enabled the growth of the highest population densities in the world at this time, giving Akkad its military advantage.
The water table in this region was very high and replenished regularly—by winter storms in the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates from October to March and from snow-melt from March to July.
Naram-Sin Rock Relief
The rock relief lies on the cliff side of Darband-i-Gawr (which means the pass of the pagan). This pass is part of the south-eastern side of the Qara Dagh (also written Kara Dagh) mountain range, Sulaymaniyah Governorate, Kurdistan, Iraq.
Image by Osama Shukir Muhammed Amin FRCP(Glasg)
Flood levels started falling, and by the Akkadian period were a half-meter to a meter lower than previously recorded.
Even so, the flat country and weather uncertainties made flooding much more unpredictable than in the case of other river civilizations; serious deluges seem to have been a regular occurrence and required constant maintenance of irrigation ditches and drainage systems.
Farmers were recruited into regiments for this work from August to October — a period of food shortage — under the control of city temple authorities. These jobs served as a form of unemployment relief.
Harvest was in the late spring and during the dry summer months.
Nomadic Amorites from the northwest would pasture their flocks of sheep and goats to graze on the stubble watered from the river and irrigation canals. For this privilege, they would have to pay a tax in wool, meat, milk, and cheese to the temples, who would distribute these products to the bureaucracy and priesthood.
Bad years saw wild winter pastures in short supply, and as nomads sought to pasture their flocks in the grain fields, conflicts with farmers would result.
Image by Cgoodwin
The subsidization of southern populations by the import of wheat from the north of the Empire temporarily overcame this problem.
It allowed economic recovery and a growing population within this region.
As a result, Sumer and Akkad had a surplus of agricultural products but was short of almost everything else, particularly metal ores, timber and building stone, all of which had to be imported. The spread of the Akkadian state as far as the "silver mountain" (possibly the Taurus Mountains), the "cedars" of Lebanon, and the copper deposits of Magan, was largely motivated by the goal of securing control over these imports.
During the 3rd millennium BCE, a very intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism.
The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence. Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as a spoken language somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennia BCE (the exact dating being a matter of debate), but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the first century CE.
List of Akkadian wooden objects plus early use of ditto.
Image by Anne-Lise Heinrichs
The Poet – Priestess Enheduanna
Sumerian literature continued in rich development during the Akkadian period.
Enheduanna, the "wife (high priestess) of Nanna, the Sumerian moon god, and daughter of King Sargon" of the temple of Sin at Ur, lived c. 2285–2250 BCE and is the first poet in history whom we know by name. Her known works include hymns to the goddess Inanna, the Exaltation of Inanna, and In-nin sa-gur-ra.
A third work, the Temple Hymns is a collection of specific hymns and addresses the sacred temples and their occupants, the deities to whom they were consecrated. The works of this poetess are significant, because although they start out using the third person, they shift to the first person voice of the poet herself, and they mark a significant development in the use of cuneiform.
Other Cultural Achievements
The empire was bound together by roads, along which there was a regular postal service.
Clay seals that took the place of stamps bore the names of Sargon and his son. A cadastral survey seems also to have been instituted, and it is probably that the first collection of astronomical observations and terrestrial omens was made for a library established by Sargon.
The earliest "year names" -whereby each year of a king's reign was named after a significant event performed by that king - date from the reign of Sargon as well. Lists of these "year names" henceforth became a calendrical system used in most independent Mesopotamian city-states.
Which of the following statements is correct regarding Akkadian culture?
A Cultural and language symbiosis occurred between the Sumerians and Akkadians
B The Akkadian governmental framework was abandoned after the fall of the Akkadians
C Sargon held higher titular honors than his grandson, Naram-Sin
D Enheduanna's poems are significant for their use of the second voice
Which of the following is a result of the high water table in the Akkadian region?
A Maintenance of irrigration systems provided unemployed relief
B Farmers were recruited to work on irrigation ditches between January and March
C Harvest was in the wet summer months and early autumn
D The Akkadian state spread in search of more agricultural products
Question 1: A Cultural and language symbiosis occurred between the Sumerians and Akkadians
Question 2: A Maintenance of irrigration systems provided unemployed relief