How Did Sargon of Akkad Form The First Empire?
Discover the life of King Sargon, who is known as the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire. Sargon of Akkad, known throughout the ancient world for his unusual rise to power, enjoys a privileged place in history as the first ruler of Mesopotamia. Discover what makes him one of history’s most fascinating rulers.
The world today is more diverse than ever before, and as curious as it is as to how and why Ashurbanipal faced such an unprecedented rise to power and what happened to his reign, it’s fascinating to explore his legacy. We’ve got a wealth of information on the Akkadian Empire, thanks to the discovery of tens of thousands of clay tablets.
Dozens of scholars have spent their careers studying these tablets and have come away with clear insights into the workings of this complex empire.
Sargon of Akkad was the founder of the first empire in the world. He was born around 2337 BC and founded a kingdom with an army of 500 soldiers.
He also learned to play the game of Akka. This is a game that was played in Mesopotamia and let teams score points. Eventually, Sargon of Akkad founded the Kingdom of Akkad and ruled over it like no other king ever did.
Sargon of Akkad was a historical figure who is mostly known for being the world’s first emperor. The first empire was called Akkad, and it is unknown how the empire came to be, who the Akkad Empire was ruled by, and how long the Akkad Empire lasted. Some scholars believe that Sargon of Akkad was a tyrant who was cruel to his people and that the empire was best known because of propaganda against him.
There’s a lot of myth, legend, and mythmaking associated with the Sargon of Akkad. Many of these stories come from tablets dating back to his lifetime. After Sargon’s death, Akkad was apparently renamed Akkaddu, but the name didn’t last long.
During the late 24th century BC, Ancient Mesopotamia underwent a period of continual war over control of the region. Credited with being the first emperor in recorded history, Sargon of Akkad successfully united multiple Sumerian city-states and conquered all of Mesopotamia to form the Akkadian Empire.
As a tribute to the lasting impact of his life and legacy, future generations will refer to him as Sargon the Great.
Sargon was born an illegitimate son to a priestess of the Sumerian goddess of love and an unknown father who lived in the small village of Azupiranu. His mother sent him down the Euphrates River in a basket where he was found by a man named Akki who worked as a gardener for the King of Kish, Ur-Zababa.
Akki adopted Sargon as his own, and Sargon rose through the ranks to become the king’s cup-bearer. The cup-bearer was an especially prestigious position that required the absolute trust of the king due to the high frequency of poisonings at the time.
During this period, Lugalzagesi, who was the king of Umma, led an army to conquer the city-states of Sumer, where he eventually marched on Sargon’s home of Kish. King Ur-Zababa sent Sargon to deliver an offer of peace; however, Lugalzagesi refused and instead invited Sargon to join him on his conquest.
Sargon agreed, and together they overthrew the city of Kish and forced Ur-Zababa into hiding. After several years, the relationship between Sargon and Lugalzagesi deteriorated. According to legend, it may have involved Sargon having an affair with Lugalzagesi’s wife.
In any case, they quickly became enemies and marched towards each other in battle. After a decisive victory over Lugalzagesi, Sargon paraded him through the streets in chains before torturing and executing him.
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Sargon appointed himself the new king of Kish and continued his predecessor’s conquest of Sumer. Lugalzagesi had already united the kingdom in large part, creating a substantial advantage for Sargon. After capturing the rest of Sumer, he moved on to conquer the lands of Assyria and Elam.
In time, Sargon had most of the Fertile Crescent under his dominion and achieved what no previous king ever had. Sargon employed new military tactics, such as the phalanx formation, which was a tightly formed group of soldiers equipped with spears and massive shields.
The phalanx formation became an essential tactic used by Alexander the Great during his military conquests nearly 2,000 years later. Sargon also leveraged new inventions, such as the composite bow, to gain a significant advantage over his enemies on the battlefield. The composite bow was made of wood, horn, and sinew.
It could shoot twice as far as a traditional bow and had 3 times its power. These military advancements helped Sargon win a total of 34 battles throughout his life. He founded the city of Akkad, establishing it as the capital of his empire.
He also founded the city of Babylon which developed into a dominant force 6 centuries later during the reign of Hammurabi. Informing his new empire, Sargon assigned his most trusted men to high-ranking positions, appointing them governors in his administration, spanning over 65 cities.
He further consolidated his power by strategically appointing his daughter Enheduanna as the high priestess of the god of wisdom, one of the most prominent.
Religious Positions of the time
This upper hand allowed Sargon to exert much greater influence over his empire and proved to be a key factor in maintaining his grip on power.
During his reign, Sargon claimed to have conquered “the four corners of the universe,” stretching from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea.
The Akkadian Empire developed the world’s first postal service and made the most efficient use of bureaucracy on a massive scale in history. The empire also dramatically improved Mesopotamia’s infrastructure with the construction of paved roads and irrigation systems.
Sargon maintained a full-time army of 5,400 men in the city of Akkad, affording him a considerable advantage compared to previous kingdoms.
However, despite these advances, the people still rebelled, requiring Sargon to suppress numerous uprisings.
According to the Sumerian King List, Sargon ruled for 56 years and died of natural causes in 2,279 BC. Sargon’s son Rimush inherited his throne and ruled for 9 years until his own death when he was succeeded by his brother Manishtushu.
The Akkadian Empire ruled for another century until the Gutian conquest of Sumer around 2,150 BC. Stories of Sargon’s greatness were widely circulated in Assyrian and Babylonian texts, which quickly cemented his status as a legend. Through relentless ambition, Sargon conquered all of Mesopotamia and forged the world’s first empire.
The details of his reign only survive in fragments of cuneiform tablets, some of which describe events that might not have happened or were written down long after his death. When Akkadian historians eventually compiled them into what is called the “Sargon Legend,” the reign of Sargon went from the legendary to the mythic.
Sargon of Akkad: Founder of the First Empire in History
This story starts in Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization after several prehistoric periods have passed since the early Bronze Age. It was the region’s first true civilization, a complex society characterized by advancements such as domestication, centralization, farming architecture, and of course, writing that civilization was sumo which consisted of groups of people who settled along the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers.
Soon enough, cities started appearing, such as Eridu, Uruk Uh Uma, and Kish, to name some of the bigger ones, in the early dynastic summer period.
Which started around 2900 BC and marked the appearance of kings who reigned over these cities or gave them their Sumerian titles
kugels. This is how it went for several centuries. The Sumerians were divided into city-states, each with its ruler sometimes getting along and fighting with each other, but it was inevitable that one day one man would come along with grand ambitions of conquest and would succeed in bringing all the Sumerian cities under his control.
That man was Sargon, who appeared at the end of the 24th century BC and founded the Akkadian Empire, the first empire in history.