Origins Of Civilization: The Akkadian Empire

The Akkadian Empire is recognised as the world’s first empire founded by Sargon Of Akkad circa 2300 BC.

According to his legend, Sargon was the illegitimate Son of a High Priestess in the Kingdom of Kish.

After birth, she reportedly placed him in a reed basket where he floated until he was found by the King’s Gardener who raised him as his own Son.

Sargon distinguished himself as a young man, and rose to the high position of cupbearer to the King of Kish.

After gaining the King’s trust and serving in his Army, Sargon succesfully overthrew Ur Zababa, the Ruler of Kish,  whereafter he initiated the expansion of his Empire by invading the Canaanite regions as well as Syria bringing them all under his rule. 

Under the patronage of the God Ishtar, Sargon’s conquests resulted in the creation of an empire that reached as far as the Meditteranean Sea to cover the entire region known as Upper Mesopotamia.

Throughout his reign, he continued to refer to himself as the appointed servant of the supreme diety Anu and his Son Enlil.

Once again, this aspect is regarded as mythology, however in The Wars Of Gods and Men, Zechariah Sitchin suggests that the Sumerian Texts on this score should not be treated as mythology, but rather that they record actual events that were noted by the Sumerians.

This view is not accepted in mainstream History however, but nevertheless provides some interesting background information on the motivations for the Wars fought by Sargon of Akkad in the name of his God Ishtar.

After his death, Sargon was succeeded by his sons Rimush and Manishtushu who did not last long on the Throne until Manishtushu was succeeded by his own son, Naram-Sin.

Naram Sin was the first King-Priest to be declared divine, marking a shift away from the previous attitude that Kings were simply representatives of the Gods.

He greatly expanded the Akkadian Empire all the way into the Zagros Mountains in Modern day Iran, and eventually conquering both Upper and Lower Mesopotamia.

With the conquest of Mari and Ebla, the Empire covered all the lands between the Upper and Lower Seas, enjoying a period of great prosperity based on strenghtening the Agricultural Economy and the extension of Trade links.

Innovations such as a Postal Service and Library were also introduced during Naram-Sin’s reign adding to the prestige of the Empire.

It was also during this time that Akkadian replaced Sumerian as the dominant language in Mesopotamia.

Naram-Sin died in 2218BC, and the Empire soon unravelled after a severe drought which weakened the empire and prompted an invasion from the barbarian Gutians who had always been an outlying enemy presenting constant problems for the Akkadian Empire even at its peak.

The collapse of the Akkadian Empire led to a vacuum which would later be filled by Assyria and Babylon.