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Ca. 2330-ca. 2220 BCE

Ancient World / Mesopotamia /

Elam Susa Sumer

Akkadian soldiers. From the victory stela of Naram-Sin. Ca. 2250 BCE.
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Akkadian soldiers. From the victory stela of Naram-Sin. Ca. 2250 BCE.

Akkadian female figurines.
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Akkadian female figurines. Photo: Mike Harrsch.

Ancient region in Mesopotamia, the northwestern half of this region, until the rise of Babylonia in the 18th century. The other, southern half of Mesopotamia was Sumer.
The inhabitants of Akkad were Semitics. Akkad had its name from the city Agade. The heartland of Akkad was the region where the rivers Euphrates and Tigris are at their closest, an area that corresponds to the region of modern Baghdad.
The inhabitants of Akkad were Semitics, having their own language, Akkadian, which would come to replace Sumerian over the centuries before and after 2000 BCE. It was during the Akkadian Empire that it established itself as Lingua Franca for the larger Mesopotamia.
In the 24th and 23rd centuries BCE, Akkad emerged as the strongest of Mesopotamia. Under Sargon, Akkad would conquer about all there was of Mesopotamian lands.
Knowledge had high status in the Akkadian society, they have contributed greatly to contemporary medicine and other sciences.
Relatively little is known about Akkadian religion, it is often classified under Sumerian religion.
There was considerable interaction between Akkad and Sumer to the south. Cultural characteristics were interchanged. Large periods were stable, but many wars were also fought between the two regions. In addition, both sides also had to defend themselves against enemies in neighbouring countries, and it was foreigners that eventually brought Akkad to an end.

There are no clear indications about beginnings for the Akkadians, whether by immigrations, or by shifts in organization and identity.
4th millennium BCE Cities emerge in Akkad.
28th century: The emergence of the Dynasty of Kish, the first Semitic kingdom in Mesopotamia.
Around 2330 BCE: The Akkadian Empire rise to become the strongest in the region, probably in the world at the time.
Around 2220: The Akkadian Empire is brought down by the the Gutians, a non-Mesopotamian people of the Zagros mountains to the east. Still, Akkad continued as a lesser kingdom among other kingdoms.
22nd to 21st centuries: Great disintegration in the heartlands of Akkad, as well as in the rest of Mesopotamia. The Akkadians never disappeared as a people, but their power structure must have fallen apart. New cities gradually emerged, Ashur becoming the strongest, from which the Assyrians rose. The Assyrians spoke Akkadian language, and could well be direct descendants of the Akkadians.
20th century: The Akkadian governor of Larsa, Gungunum, breaks free from Isin, forming an independent Akkadian kingdom here that controlled most of Sumer.
1834: Local Akkadian dynasty of Larsa is replaced by the Elamites.

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By Tore Kjeilen