Akkadian Empire

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Coordinates: 33°6′N 44°6′E / 33.1°N 44.1°E / 33.1; 44.1

The Akkadian Empire (Akkadian URUAkkad KI, Hittite KUR A.GA.DÈ.KI "land of Akkad"; Biblical Hebrew אַכַּד Akkad) was an empire centered in the city of Akkad (Sumerian: Agade) and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia.[1] The Akkadian state was the predecessor of the later empires of Babylonia and Assyria; formed following centuries of Akkadian cultural synergy with Sumerians, it reached the height of its power between the 24th and 22nd centuries BCE following the conquests of king Sargon of Akkad, and is sometimes regarded as the first manifestation of an empire in history.[2]

During the third millennium BC, an intimate cultural symbiosis developed between the Sumerians and the Akkadians, which included widespread bilingualism.[3] The influence of Sumerian on Akkadian (and vice versa) is evident in all areas, from lexical borrowing on a massive scale, to syntactic, morphological, and phonological convergence.[3] This has prompted scholars to refer to Sumerian and Akkadian in the third millennium as a Sprachbund.[3]

Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as the spoken language of Mesopotamia somewhere around the turn of the 3rd and the 2nd millennium BC (the exact dating being a matter of debate),[4] but Sumerian continued to be used as a sacred, ceremonial, literary and scientific language in Mesopotamia until the 1st century AD.

Through linguistic assimilation, Akkad gave its name to the predominant Semitic dialect: the Akkadian language of Mesopotamia, reflecting use of akkadû ("in the language of Akkad") in the Old Babylonian period to denote the Semitic version of a Sumerian text. Akkadian was also the language of Babylonia, Assyria, Mari and Eshnunna.

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