Sargon of Akkad
Overview
Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "the Great King" (Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 Šarru-kīnu, meaning "the true king" or "the king is legitimate"), was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian city-states in the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned in the last quarter of the third millennium BC. He became a prominent member of the royal court of Kish
Kish (Sumer)
Kish is modern Tell al-Uhaymir , and was an ancient city of Sumer. Kish is located some 12 km east of Babylon, and 80 km south of Baghdad ....

, killing the king and usurping his throne before embarking on the quest to conquer Mesopotamia.
Unanswered Questions
Encyclopedia
Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "the Great King" (Akkadian
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 Šarru-kīnu, meaning "the true king" or "the king is legitimate"), was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

ian city-states in the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC. The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned in the last quarter of the third millennium BC. He became a prominent member of the royal court of Kish
Kish (Sumer)
Kish is modern Tell al-Uhaymir , and was an ancient city of Sumer. Kish is located some 12 km east of Babylon, and 80 km south of Baghdad ....

, killing the king and usurping his throne before embarking on the quest to conquer Mesopotamia. He was originally referred to as Sargon I until records concerning an Assyrian king also named Sargon (now usually referred to as Sargon I) were unearthed.

Sargon's vast empire is thought to have included large parts of Mesopotamia, including parts of modern-day Iran
Iran
Iran , officially the Islamic Republic of Iran , is a country in Southern and Western Asia. The name "Iran" has been in use natively since the Sassanian era and came into use internationally in 1935, before which the country was known to the Western world as Persia...

 and Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. He ruled from a new, but as yet archaeologically unidentified capital, Akkad (Agade), which the Sumerian king list
Sumerian king list
The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship...

 claims he built (or possibly renovated). He is sometimes regarded as the first person in recorded history to create a multiethnic, centrally ruled empire
Empire
The term empire derives from the Latin imperium . Politically, an empire is a geographically extensive group of states and peoples united and ruled either by a monarch or an oligarchy....

, although the Sumerians Lugal-anne-mundu
Lugal-Anne-Mundu
Lugal-Anne-Mundu was the most important king of the city-state Adab in Sumer. The Sumerian king list claims he reigned for 90 years, following the defeat of Meskiaj-nanna of Ur...

 and Lugal-zage-si
Lugal-Zage-Si
Lugal-Zage-Si of Umma was the last Sumerian king before the conquest of Sumer by Sargon of Akkad and the rise of the Akkadian Empire, and was considered as the only king of the third dynasty of Uruk...

 also have a claim. His dynasty controlled Mesopotamia for around a century and a half.

Origins and rise to power

The exact dates of Sargon's birth, death or even reign are unknown. According to the short chronology, he reigned from 2270 to 2215 BC. These dates are based on the Sumerian king list
Sumerian king list
The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship...

 Sargon was likely a regnal name; his given name is unknown.

The story of Sargon's birth and childhood is given in the "Sargon legend", a Sumerian
Sumerian language
Sumerian is the language of ancient Sumer, which was spoken in southern Mesopotamia since at least the 4th millennium BC. During the 3rd millennium BC, there developed a very intimate cultural symbiosis between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism...

 text purporting to be Sargon's biography. The extant versions are incomplete, but the surviving fragments name Sargon's father as La'ibum
La'ibum
La'ibum was an Akkadian man. He is mentioned once in the Sumerian "Sargon legend" as the father of Sargon of Akkad. No details about his life or historicity are known. He was presumably an Akkadian. A neo-Assyrian text asserts that Sargon was from Azupiranu; this may have been La'ibum's native town...

. After a lacuna
Lacuna (manuscripts)
A lacunaPlural lacunae. From Latin lacūna , diminutive form of lacus . is a gap in a manuscript, inscription, text, painting, or a musical work...

, the text skips to Ur-Zababa
Ur-Zababa
Ur-Zababa is listed on the Sumerian king list as the second king in the 4th Dynasty of Kish, the son of Puzur-Suen and the grandson of Kug-Bau. The king list also says Sargon of Akkad was a cup-bearer for Ur-Zababa before becoming king of Akkad.-See also:...

, king of Kish
Kish (Sumer)
Kish is modern Tell al-Uhaymir , and was an ancient city of Sumer. Kish is located some 12 km east of Babylon, and 80 km south of Baghdad ....

, who awakens after a dream, the contents of which are not revealed on the surviving portion of the tablet. For unknown reasons, Ur-Zababa appoints Sargon as his cupbearer. Soon after this, Ur-Zababa invites Sargon to his chambers to discuss a dream of Sargon's, involving the favor of the goddess Inanna
Inanna
Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

 and the drowning of Ur-Zababa by the goddess. Deeply frightened, Ur-Zababa orders Sargon murdered by the hands of Beliš-tikal, the chief smith, but Inanna prevents it, demanding that Sargon stop at the gates because of his being "polluted with blood." When Sargon returns to Ur-Zababa, the king becomes frightened again, and decides to send Sargon to king Lugal-zage-si
Lugal-Zage-Si
Lugal-Zage-Si of Umma was the last Sumerian king before the conquest of Sumer by Sargon of Akkad and the rise of the Akkadian Empire, and was considered as the only king of the third dynasty of Uruk...

 of Uruk
Uruk
Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.Uruk gave its name to the Uruk...

 with a message on a clay tablet asking him to slay Sargon. The legend breaks off at this point; presumably, the missing sections described how Sargon becomes king.

The Sumerian king list
Sumerian king list
The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship...

 relates: "In Agade [Akkad], Sargon, whose father was a gardener, the cupbearer of Ur-Zababa, became king, the king of Agade, who built Agade; he ruled for 56 years." There are several problems with this entry in the king list. Thorkild Jacobsen
Thorkild Jacobsen
Thorkild Jacobsen was a renowned historian specializing in Assyriology and Sumerian literature.He was one of the foremost scholars on the ancient Near East.-Biography:...

 marked the clause about Sargon's father being a gardener as a lacunae, indicating his uncertainty about its meaning. Furthermore, confusingly, Ur-Zababa and Lugal-zage-si are both listed as kings, but several generations apart. The claim that Sargon was the original founder of Akkad has come into question in recent years, with the discovery of an inscription mentioning the place and dated to the first year of Enshakushanna
Enshakushanna
Enshakushanna was a king of Uruk in the later 3rd millennium BC who is named on the Sumerian king list, which states his reign to have been 60 years. He conquered Hamazi, Akkad, Kish, and Nippur, claiming hegemony over all of Sumer...

, who almost certainly preceded him. This claim of the king list had been the basis for earlier speculation by a number of scholars that Sargon was an inspiration for the biblical figure of Nimrod
Nimrod
Nimrod means "Hunter"; was a Biblical Mesopotamian king mentioned in the Table of Nations; an eponym for the city of Nimrud.Nimrod can also refer to any of the following:*Nimród Antal, a director...

. The Weidner Chronicle (ABC
Babylonian Chronicles
The Babylonian Chronicles are many series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography...

 19:51) states that it was Sargon who built Babylon
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

 "in front of Akkad." The Chronicle of Early Kings (ABC 20:18-19) likewise states that late in his reign, Sargon "dug up the soil of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Agade." Van de Mieroop suggested that those two chronicles may in fact refer to the much later Sargon II of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, rather than to Sargon of Akkad.

A Neo-Assyrian text from the 7th century BC purporting to be Sargon's autobiography asserts that the great king was the illegitimate son of a priestess. In the Neo-Assyrian account Sargon's birth and his early childhood are described thus:

Formation of the Akkadian Empire

After coming to power in Kish, Sargon soon attacked Uruk, which was ruled by Lugal-Zage-Si
Lugal-Zage-Si
Lugal-Zage-Si of Umma was the last Sumerian king before the conquest of Sumer by Sargon of Akkad and the rise of the Akkadian Empire, and was considered as the only king of the third dynasty of Uruk...

 of Umma
Umma
Umma was an ancient city in Sumer. Note that there is some scholarly debateabout the Sumerian and Akkadian names for this site.-History:...

. He captured Uruk and dismantled its famous walls. The defenders seem to have fled the city, joining an army led by fifty ensis
ENSI
ENSI is a Sumerian title designating the ruler or prince of a city state...

 from the provinces. This Sumerian force fought two pitched battles
Battle of Uruk
The Battle of Uruk was one of the decisive battles in which king Sargon the Great of Akkad subdued Sumer and brought it under his control. The only known information about this battle is from a copied inscription at Nippur, and the date for the battle is uncertain. During his military campaign,...

 against the Akkadians, as a result of which the remaining forces of Lugal-Zage-Si were routed. Lugal-Zage-Si himself was captured and brought to Nippur; Sargon inscribed on the pedestal of a statue (preserved in a later tablet) that he brought Lugal-Zage-Si "in a dog collar to the gate of Enlil." Sargon pursued his enemies to Ur before moving eastwards to Lagash, to the Persian Gulf
Persian Gulf
The Persian Gulf, in Southwest Asia, is an extension of the Indian Ocean located between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula.The Persian Gulf was the focus of the 1980–1988 Iran-Iraq War, in which each side attacked the other's oil tankers...

, and thence to Umma. He made a symbolic gesture of washing his weapons in the "lower sea" (Persian Gulf) to show that he had conquered Sumer in its entirety.

Another victory Sargon celebrated was over Kashtubila, king of Kazalla
Kazalla
Kazalla or Kazallu is the name given in Akkadian sources to a city in the ancient Near East.Under its king Kashtubila, Kazalla warred against Sargon of Akkad in the 24th or 23rd century BC...

. According to one ancient source, Sargon laid the city of Kazalla to waste so effectively "that the birds could not find a place to perch away from the ground."

To help limit the chance of revolt in Sumer
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

 he appointed a court of 5,400 men to "share his table" (i.e., to administer his empire). These 5,400 men may have constituted Sargon's army. The governors chosen by Sargon to administer the main city-states of Sumer were Akkadians, not Sumerians. The Semitic
Semitic languages
The Semitic languages are a group of related languages whose living representatives are spoken by more than 270 million people across much of the Middle East, North Africa and the Horn of Africa...

 Akkadian language
Akkadian language
Akkadian is an extinct Semitic language that was spoken in ancient Mesopotamia. The earliest attested Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system derived ultimately from ancient Sumerian, an unrelated language isolate...

 became the lingua franca, the official language of inscriptions in all Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

, and of great influence far beyond. Sargon's empire maintained trade and diplomatic contacts with kingdoms around the Arabian Sea
Arabian Sea
The Arabian Sea is a region of the Indian Ocean bounded on the east by India, on the north by Pakistan and Iran, on the west by the Arabian Peninsula, on the south, approximately, by a line between Cape Guardafui in northeastern Somalia and Kanyakumari in India...

 and elsewhere in the Near East. Sargon's inscriptions report that ships from Magan
Magan
Majan was an ancient region which was referred to in Sumerian cuneiform texts of around 2300 BC as a source of copper and diorite for Mesopotamia....

, Meluhha
Meluhha
' or Melukhkha is the Sumerian name of a prominent trading partner of Sumer during the Middle Bronze Age. Its identification remains an open question.-Trade with Sumer:...

, and Dilmun
Dilmun
Dilmun or Telmun is a land mentioned by Mesopotamian civilizations as a trade partner, a source of the metal copper, and an entrepôt of the Mesopotamia-to-Indus Valley Civilization trade route...

, among other places, rode at anchor in his capital of Agade.

The former religious institutions of Sumer, already well-known and emulated by the Semites, were respected. Sumerian remained, in large part, the language of religion and Sargon and his successors were patrons of the Sumerian cults. Sargon styled himself "anointed priest of Anu
Anu
In Sumerian mythology, Anu was a sky-god, the god of heaven, lord of constellations, king of gods, Consort of Antu, spirits and demons, and dwelt in the highest heavenly regions. It was believed that he had the power to judge those who had committed crimes, and that he had created the stars as...

" and "great ensi of Enlil
Enlil
Elizabeth Barrett Browning was one of the most prominent poets of the Victorian era. Her poetry was widely popular in both England and the United States during her lifetime. A collection of her last poems was published by her husband, Robert Browning, shortly after her death.-Early life:Members...

", While Sargon is often credited with the first true empire, Lugal-Zage-Si preceded him; after coming to power in Umma he had conquered or otherwise come into possession of Ur, Uruk, Nippur
Nippur
Nippur was one of the most ancient of all the Sumerian cities. It was the special seat of the worship of the Sumerian god Enlil, the "Lord Wind," ruler of the cosmos subject to An alone...

, and Lagash
Lagash
Lagash is located northwest of the junction of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers and east of Uruk, about east of the modern town of Ash Shatrah. Lagash was one of the oldest cities of the Ancient Near East...

. Lugal-Zage-Si claimed rulership over lands as far away as the Mediterranean.

Wars in the northwest and east

Shortly after securing Sumer, Sargon embarked on a series of campaigns to subjugate the entire Fertile Crescent
Fertile Crescent
The Fertile Crescent, nicknamed "The Cradle of Civilization" for the fact the first civilizations started there, is a crescent-shaped region containing the comparatively moist and fertile land of otherwise arid and semi-arid Western Asia. The term was first used by University of Chicago...

. According to the Chronicle of Early Kings, a later Babylonian historiographical text:
Sargon captured Mari
Mari, Syria
Mari was an ancient Sumerian and Amorite city, located 11 kilometers north-west of the modern town of Abu Kamal on the western bank of Euphrates river, some 120 km southeast of Deir ez-Zor, Syria...

, Yarmuti, and Ebla
Ebla
Ebla Idlib Governorate, Syria) was an ancient city about southwest of Aleppo. It was an important city-state in two periods, first in the late third millennium BC, then again between 1800 and 1650 BC....

 as far as the Cedar Forest
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 (Amanus) and the silver mountain (Taurus
Taurus Mountains
Taurus Mountains are a mountain complex in southern Turkey, dividing the Mediterranean coastal region of southern Turkey from the central Anatolian Plateau. The system extends along a curve from Lake Eğirdir in the west to the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris rivers in the east...

). The Akkadian Empire secured trade routes and supplies of wood and precious metals could be safely and freely floated down the Euphrates
Euphrates
The Euphrates is the longest and one of the most historically important rivers of Western Asia. Together with the Tigris, it is one of the two defining rivers of Mesopotamia...

 to Akkad.

In the east, Sargon defeated an invasion by the four leaders of Elam
Elam
Elam was an ancient civilization located in what is now southwest Iran. Elam was centered in the far west and the southwest of modern-day Iran, stretching from the lowlands of Khuzestan and Ilam Province, as well as a small part of southern Iraq...

, led by the king of Awan
Awan dynasty
The Awan Dynasty was the first dynasty of Elam of which anything is known today, appearing at the dawn of historical record. The Elamites were likely major rivals of neighboring Sumer from remotest antiquity; they were said to have been defeated by Enmebaragesi of Kish The Awan Dynasty was the...

. Their cities were sacked; the governors, viceroys and kings of Susa
Susa
Susa was an ancient city of the Elamite, Persian and Parthian empires of Iran. It is located in the lower Zagros Mountains about east of the Tigris River, between the Karkheh and Dez Rivers....

, Barhashe
Marhasi
Marhaši was a 3rd millennium BC polity situated east of Elam, on the Iranian plateau. It is known from Mesopotamian sources, and its precise location has not been identified...

, and neighboring districts became vassals of Akkad, and the Akkadian language made the official language of international discourse. During Sargon's reign, Akkadian was standardized and adapted for use with the cuneiform script
Cuneiform script
Cuneiform script )) is one of the earliest known forms of written expression. Emerging in Sumer around the 30th century BC, with predecessors reaching into the late 4th millennium , cuneiform writing began as a system of pictographs...

 previously used in the Sumerian language. A style of calligraphy
Calligraphy
Calligraphy is a type of visual art. It is often called the art of fancy lettering . A contemporary definition of calligraphic practice is "the art of giving form to signs in an expressive, harmonious and skillful manner"...

 developed in which text on clay tablets and cylinder seals was arranged amidst scenes of mythology and ritual.

Later reign

The Epic of the King of the Battle is known from an Akkadian-language tablet in the Amarna
Amarna
Amarna is an extensive Egyptian archaeological site that represents the remains of the capital city newly–established and built by the Pharaoh Akhenaten of the late Eighteenth Dynasty , and abandoned shortly afterwards...

 archives; translations have since been discovered in Hittite
Hittite language
Hittite is the extinct language once spoken by the Hittites, a people who created an empire centred on Hattusa in north-central Anatolia...

 and Hurrian
Hurrian language
Hurrian is a conventional name for the language of the Hurrians , a people who entered northern Mesopotamia around 2300 BC and had mostly vanished by 1000 BC. Hurrian was the language of the Mitanni kingdom in northern Mesopotamia, and was likely spoken at least initially in Hurrian settlements in...

. It depicts Sargon advancing deep into the heart of Anatolia
Anatolia
Anatolia is a geographic and historical term denoting the westernmost protrusion of Asia, comprising the majority of the Republic of Turkey...

 to protect Akkadian and other Mesopotamian merchants from the exactions of the King of Purushanda
Purushanda
Purushanda was an ancient city-state in central Anatolia, lying south of the Kızılırmak River in what is now modern Turkey. Its site has yet to be discovered. It may have been situated south-east of Lake Tuz, possibly on the mound of Acemhöyük approximately north-west of the city of Aksaray...

 (Purshahanda). It is anachronistic, however, portraying the 23rd-century Sargon in a 19th-century milieu; the story is thus probably fictional, though it may have some basis in historical fact. The same text mentions that Sargon crossed the Sea of the West (Mediterranean Sea
Mediterranean Sea
The Mediterranean Sea is a sea connected to the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by the Mediterranean region and almost completely enclosed by land: on the north by Anatolia and Europe, on the south by North Africa, and on the east by the Levant...

) and ended up in Kuppara, which some authors have interpreted as the Akkadian word for Keftiu, an ancient locale usually associated with Crete or Cyprus
Cyprus
Cyprus , officially the Republic of Cyprus , is a Eurasian island country, member of the European Union, in the Eastern Mediterranean, east of Greece, south of Turkey, west of Syria and north of Egypt. It is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.The earliest known human activity on the...

.

Famine and war threatened Sargon's empire during the latter years of his reign. The Chronicle of Early Kings reports that revolts broke out throughout the area under the last years of his overlordship:
However Oppenheim translates the last sentence as "From the East to the West he [i.e. Marduk] alienated (them) from him and inflicted upon (him as punishment) that he could not rest (in his grave)."

Later literature proposes that the rebellions and other troubles of Sargon's later reign were the result of sacrilegious acts committed by the king. Modern consensus is that the veracity of these claims are impossible to determine, as disasters were virtually always attributed to sacrilege inspiring divine wrath in ancient Mesopotamian literature.

Legacy

Sargon died, according to the short chronology, around 2215 BC. His empire immediately revolted upon hearing of the king's death. Most of the revolts were put down by his son and successor Rimush
Rimush
Rimush was the second king of the Akkadian Empire. He was the son of Sargon of Akkad and Queen Tashlultum. He was succeeded by his brother Manishtushu and was an uncle of Naram-Sin of Akkad....

, who reigned for nine years and was followed by another of Sargon's sons, Manishtushu
Manishtushu
Manishtushu was a king of the Akkadian Empire from 2276 to 2261 BC. His name is also spelled as Maništušu.- Biography :Manishtushu was the son of Sargon of Akkad and Queen Tashlultum, brother of En-hedu-ana and the father of Naram-Sin...

 (who reigned for 15 years). Sargon was regarded as a model by Mesopotamian kings for some two millennia after his death. The Assyrian and Babylonian kings who based their empires in Mesopotamia saw themselves as the heirs of Sargon's empire. Kings such as Nabonidus
Nabonidus
Nabonidus was the last king of the Neo-Babylonian Empire, reigning from 556-539 BCE.-Historiography on Nabonidus:...

 (r. 556–539 BC) showed great interest in the history of the Sargonid dynasty, and even conducted excavations of Sargon's palaces and those of his successors. Indeed, such later rulers may have been inspired by the king's conquests to embark on their own campaigns throughout the Middle East. The Neo-Assyrian Sargon text challenges his successors thus:
Another source attributed to Sargon the challenge "now, any king who wants to call himself my equal, wherever I went [conquered], let him go."

Literary comparisons between Sargon and other ancient heroes

The image of Sargon as a castaway set adrift on a river resembles the better-known birth narrative of Moses
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

. Scholars such as Joseph Campbell
Joseph Campbell
Joseph John Campbell was an American mythologist, writer and lecturer, best known for his work in comparative mythology and comparative religion. His work is vast, covering many aspects of the human experience...

 and Otto Rank
Otto Rank
Otto Rank was an Austrian psychoanalyst, writer, teacher and therapist. Born in Vienna as Otto Rosenfeld, he was one of Sigmund Freud's closest colleagues for 20 years, a prolific writer on psychoanalytic themes, an editor of the two most important analytic journals, managing director of Freud's...

 have compared the 7th century BC Sargon account with the obscure births of other heroic figures from history and mythology, including Karna
Karna
Karna or Radheya is one of the central characters in the epic Mahābhārata, from ancient India. He was the King of Anga...

, Oedipus
Oedipus
Oedipus was a mythical Greek king of Thebes. He fulfilled a prophecy that said he would kill his father and marry his mother, and thus brought disaster on his city and family...

, Paris
Paris (mythology)
Paris , the son of Priam, king of Troy, appears in a number of Greek legends. Probably the best-known was his elopement with Helen, queen of Sparta, this being one of the immediate causes of the Trojan War...

, Telephus
Telephus
A Greek mythological figure, Telephus or Telephos Telephus was one of the Heraclidae, the sons of Heracles, who were venerated as founders of cities...

, Semiramis
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

, Perseus
Perseus
Perseus ,Perseos and Perseas are not used in English. the legendary founder of Mycenae and of the Perseid dynasty of Danaans there, was the first of the mythic heroes of Greek mythology whose exploits in defeating various archaic monsters provided the founding myths of the Twelve Olympians...

, Romulus
Romulus
- People:* Romulus and Remus, the mythical founders of Rome* Romulus Augustulus, the last Western Roman Emperor* Valerius Romulus , deified son of the Roman emperor Maxentius* Romulus , son of the Western Roman emperor Anthemius...

, Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, modern day Iraq , placing his reign ca. 2500 BC. According to the Sumerian king list he reigned for 126 years. In the Tummal Inscription, Gilgamesh, and his son Urlugal, rebuilt the sanctuary of the goddess Ninlil, in Tummal, a sacred quarter in her city of...

, Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

, Jesus
Jesus
Jesus of Nazareth , commonly referred to as Jesus Christ or simply as Jesus or Christ, is the central figure of Christianity...

, and others. While Moses is supposed to have lived centuries after Sargon, the exact chronological relationship between the two narratives is uncertain. In any event, the account of Exodus turns the theme on its head— rather than a royal fostered by commoners before rediscovering his royal blood, Moses is the son of slaves who is fostered by the daughter of Pharaoh
Pharaoh
Pharaoh is a title used in many modern discussions of the ancient Egyptian rulers of all periods. The title originates in the term "pr-aa" which means "great house" and describes the royal palace...

. A number of past scholars have speculated that Sargon was an inspiration for the biblical Nimrod
Nimrod
Nimrod means "Hunter"; was a Biblical Mesopotamian king mentioned in the Table of Nations; an eponym for the city of Nimrud.Nimrod can also refer to any of the following:*Nimród Antal, a director...

, mainly since both figures were credited with the construction of the cities Babylon and Akkad. It now appears certain these places were already in existence in the pre-Sargonic era.

Family

The name of Sargon's main wife, Queen Tashlultum
Tashlultum
Tashlultum was a queen of Akkad and wife of King Sargon of Akkad. She was the mother of his children Enheduanna, Rimush, Manishtushu, Shu-Enlil and Ilaba'is-takal. She was a grandmother of Naram-Sin of Akkad and great-grandmother of Shar-Kali-Sharri....

, and those of a number of his children are known to us. His daughter Enheduanna
Enheduanna
Enheduanna , also transliterated as Enheduana, En-hedu-ana or EnHeduAnna , was an Akkadian princess as well as High Priestess of the Moon god Nanna in the Sumerian city-state of Ur...

, who flourished during the late 24th and early 23rd centuries BC, was a priestess who composed ritual hymns. Many of her works, including her Exaltation of Inanna
Inanna
Inanna, also spelled Inana is the Sumerian goddess of sexual love, fertility, and warfare....

, were in use for centuries thereafter. Sargon was succeeded by his son, Rimush; after Rimush's death another son, Manishtushu, became king. Two other sons, Shu-Enlil
Shu-Enlil
Shu-Enlil was a son of Sargon the Great, first ruler of the Akkadian Empire. He lived in the 23rd century BCE.-References:...

 (Ibarum) and Ilaba'is-takal
Ilaba'is-takal
Ilaba'is-takal was a son of Sargon the Great, first ruler of the Akkadian Empire. He lived in the late 24th and early 23rd centuries BCE.-References:...

 (Abaish-Takal), are known.

Further reading

  • Albright, W. F., A Babylonian Geographical Treatise on Sargon of Akkad's Empire, Journal of the American Oriental Society (1925).
  • Alotte De La Fuye, M. Documents présargoniques, Paris, 1908–20.
  • Biggs, R.D. Inscriptions from Tell Abu Salabikh, Chicago, 1974.
  • Deimel, A. Die Inschriften von Fara, Leipzig, 1922–24.
  • Gadd, C.J. "The Dynasty of Agade and the Gutian Invasion." Cambridge Ancient History, rev. ed., vol. 1, ch. 19. Cambridge Univ. Press, 1963.
  • Jestin, R. Tablettes Sumériennes de Shuruppak, Paris, 1937.
  • Luckenbill, D. D., On the Opening Lines of the Legend of Sargon, The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures (1917).
  • Sollberger, E. Corpus des Inscriptions 'Royales' Présargoniques de Lagash, Paris, 1956.
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