Sargon of Akkad

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Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great "The Great King" (Akkadian Šarru-kīnu, meaning "the true king" or "the king is legitimate"), was an Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC.[1] The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned from 2270 to 2215 BC (short chronology).[2] He became a prominent member of the royal court of Kish, killing the king and usurping his throne before embarking on the quest to conquer Mesopotamia.

Sargon's vast empire is known to have extended from Elam to the Mediterranean Sea, including Mesopotamia, parts of modern-day Iran and Syria, and possibly parts of Anatolia and the Arabian peninsula. He ruled from a new capital, Akkad (Agade), which the Sumerian king list claims he built (or possibly renovated), on the left bank of the Euphrates.[3] He is sometimes regarded as the first person in recorded history to create a multiethnic, centrally ruled empire, although the Sumerians Lugal-anne-mundu and Lugal-zage-si also have a claim. His dynasty controlled Mesopotamia for around a century and a half.[4]

Contents

Origins and rise to power

The story of Sargon's birth and childhood is given in the "Sargon legend", a Sumerian text purporting to be Sargon's biography. The extant versions are incomplete, but the surviving fragments name Sargon's father as La'ibum. After a lacuna, the text skips to Ur-Zababa, king of Kish, 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 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 of Uruk with a message on a clay tablet asking him to slay Sargon.[5] The legend breaks off at this point; presumably, the missing sections described how Sargon becomes king.[6]

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