Akkad (also spelled Akkade or Agade) was the capital of the Akkadian Empire, which was the dominant political force in Mesopotamia at the end of the third millennium BCE. The existence of Akkad is only known from textual sources; its location has not yet been identified, although scholars have proposed a number of different sites. Most recent proposals point to a location east of the River Tigris.
Akkad in textual sources
Before Akkad was identified in Mesopotamian cuneiform texts, the city was only known from a single reference in Genesis 10:10 where it is written אַכַּד (Accad). The city of Akkad is mentioned more than 160 times in cuneiform sources ranging in date from the Akkadian period itself (2350–2170 or 2230–2050 BCE, according to respectively the Middle or Short Chronology) to the 6th century BCE. The name of the city is spelled as a-ga-dèKI or URIKI, which is variously transcribed into English as Akkad, Akkade or Agade. The etymology of a-ga-dè is unclear but not of Akkadian origin. Sumerian, Hurrian and Lullubean etymologies have been proposed instead. The non-Akkadian origin of the city's name suggests that the site may have already been occupied in pre-Sargonic times, as also suggested by the mentioning of the city in one pre-Sargonic year-name. The inscription on the Bassetki Statue records that the inhabitants of Akkad built a temple for Naram-Sin after he had crushed a revolt against his rule. The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar, who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or ‘Warlike Ishtar’. Her husband Ilaba was also revered there. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Sippar in the Old Babylonian period, possibly because Akkad itself had been destroyed by that time.
Location of Akkad
The location of Akkad is unknown but throughout the years scholars made several proposals. Whereas many older proposals put Akkad on the Euphrates, more recent discussions conclude that a location on the Tigris is more likely. The identification of Akkad with Sippar ša Annunîtum (modern Tell ed-Der), located along a canal opposite Sippar ša Šamaš (Sippar, modern Tell Abu Habba) has been discredited based on conflicting accounts in cuneiform sources. Nabonidus, the last king of Babylon, mentioned the restoration of temples in Sippar ša Annunîtum and Akkad in the same text, indicating that these were in fact separate places. A combined analysis of cuneiform, topographical and archaeological field survey data led archaeologist Harvey Weiss to suggest that Akkad is modern Ishan Mizyad, a large site 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest from Kish. Excavations have shown that the remains at Ishan Mizyad date to the Ur III period and not to the Akkadian period.
More recent discussions have focused on a location along, or east of the Tigris. An analysis by Christophe Wall-Morana of ca. 90 cuneiform texts mentioning the city of Akkad pointed to a location near the confluence of the Diyala River with the Tigris. Wall-Morana used further historical and archaeological data to suggest Tell Muhammad in the southeastern suburbs of Baghdad as the most likely candidate for Akkad. Archaeological investigations at this site have so far failed to locate any remains datable to the Akkadian period. Assyriologist Julian Reade suggested that Akkad may have been located at Qadisiyeh, further north along the Tigris. At this site, north of Samarra and south of where the Adheim River joins the Tigris, a fragment of an Old Akkadian statue – now in the British Museum – has been found that, if complete, would be the largest of its kind. His proposal to identify Akkad with Qadisiyeh supports a slightly earlier overview by Assyriologist Aage Westenholz, who also concluded that Akkad must lie near the confluence of the Adheim and the Tigris.
- Genesis 10:10, King James Version (Oxford Standard, 1769)
- Wall-Romana 1990, p. 205
- Pruß 2004, p. 14
- Sallaberger & Westenholz 1999, pp. 31–32
- Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 205–206
- van de Mieroop 2007, pp. 68–69
- Wall-Romana 1990, p. 209
- Unger 1928, p. 62
- Weiss 1975, p. 451
- Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 243–244
- Reade 2002, p. 269
- Pruß, Alexander (2004), "Remarks on the Chronological Periods", in Lebeau, Marc; Sauvage, Martin, Atlas of Preclassical Upper Mesopotamia, Subartu 13, pp. 7–21, ISBN 2503991203
- Reade, Julian (2002), "Early Monuments in Gulf Stone at the British Museum, with Observations on Some Gudea Statues and the Location of Agade", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und Vorderasiatische Archäologie 92 (2): 258–295, doi:10.1515/zava.2002.92.2.258
- Sallaberger, Walther; Westenholz, Aage (1999), Mesopotamien: Akkade-Zeit und Ur III-Zeit, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, 160/3, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ISBN 352553325X
- Unger, Eckhard (1928), "Akkad", in Ebeling, Erich; Meissner, Bruno, Reallexikon der Assyriologie (in German) 1, Berlin: W. de Gruyter, p. 62, OCLC 23582617
- van de Mieroop, Marc (2007), A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000–323 BC. Second Edition, Blackwell History of the Ancient World, Malden: Blackwell, ISBN 9781405149112
- Wall-Romana, Christophe (1990), "An Areal Location of Agade", Journal of Near Eastern Studies 49 (3): 205–245, JSTOR 546244
- Weiss, Harvey (1975), "Kish, Akkad and Agade", Journal of the American Oriental Society 95 (3): 434–453, JSTOR 599355