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Encyclopedia > Akkadians

Ancient Mesopotamia
Cities / Empires
Sumer: UrukUrEridu
Akkadian Empire: Agade
Assyria: AssurNineveh
Kings of Sumer
Kings of Assyria
Kings of Babylon
Cuneiform script
Enuma Elish

Akkad (or Agade) was a city and its region of northern Iraq) between Assyria to the northwest and Sumer to the south. It reached the height of its power between the 22nd and 18th centuries BC, before the rise of Babylonia. Akkad gave its name to the Akkadian language, reflecting use of akkadū ("in the language of Akkad") in the Old Babylonian period to denote the Semitic version of a Sumerian text.



The earliest records in Akkadian date to the time of Sargon of Akkad (23rd century BCE). While Sargon is traditionally cited as the first ruler of a combined empire of Akkad and Sumer, more recent work suggests that a Sumerian expansion began under a previous king, Lugal-Zage-Si of Uruk. However, Sargon took this process further, conquering many of the surrounding regions to create an empire that reached as far as the Mediterranean Sea and Anatolia.

In the later Assyro-Babylonian literature the name Akkadu, together with Sumer, appears as part of the royal title, as in the non-Semitic lugal Kengi (ki) Uru (ki) or sar mat Sumeri u Akkadi, translating to "king of Sumer and Akkad," which appears to have meant simply "king of Babylonia."

The site of Akkad has not been identified, though texts from as late as the 6th century BCE mention it, and its ruined buildings.

Origin of the Name

The city of Akkad is mentioned once in the Old Testament (Genesis 10:10).

And the beginning of his [ Nimrod's] kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. (Greek (LXX) spelling is Archad.

The name Agade is probably from the Sumerian language, appearing e.g. in the Sumerian king list, the later Assyro-Babylonian Semitic form Akkadu ("of or belonging to Akkad") probably being derived from Agade.

It is possible that the name AGA.DE means "Crown of Fire"[1] in allusion to Ishtar, "the brilliant goddess", whose cult was observed in very early times in Agade. This is suggested by the writings of Nabonidus, whose record [2] mentions that Ishtar worship of Agade was later superceded by that of the goddess Anunit, whose shrine was at Sippar. It is significant in this connection that there were two cities named Sippar, one under the protection of Shamash, the sun-god, and one under Anunit,suggesting proximity of Sippar and Agade. One theory held (as of 1911) was that Agade was situated opposite Sippar on the left bank of the Euphrates, and was probably the oldest part of the city of Sippar.


  1. prince, "Materials for a Sumerian Lexicon," pp. 23, 73, Journal of Biblical Literature, 1906.
  2. I. Rawl. 69, col. ii. 48 and iii. 28.


  • A. Leo Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization

See also

External link

  • Akkad History (http://ancientneareast.tripod.com/Akkad.html): from The History of the Ancient Near East

This article incorporates text from the public domain 1911 Encyclopędia Britannica.

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Akkadian College of Divinity: Akkadia and the Akkadian language (1058 words)
Akkadian (or Babylonian-Assyrian) is the collective name for the spoken languages of the culture in Mesopotamia, the area between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris.
Akkadian, the oldest known member of the family of Semitic languages, succeeded Sumerian as the vernacular tongue of Mesopotamia and was spoken by the Babylonians and Assyrians over a period of nearly two thousand years.
It was adopted by the Akkadians ca.2500 BC from the Sumerians, whose language was not a Semitic tongue.
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