Akkad (city)

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Map of the Near East showing the extent of the Akkadian Empire and the general area in which Akkad was located

Akkad (/ˈækæd/; or Agade, Akkadian: 𒀀𒂵𒉈𒆠 akkadê, also 𒌵𒆠 URIKI in Sumerian during the Ur III period)[1] was the name of a Mesopotamian city.[2] Akkad was the capital of the Akkadian Empire, which was the dominant political force in Mesopotamia during a period of about 150 years in the last third of the 3rd millennium BC.

Its location is unknown, although there are a number of candidate sites, mostly situated east of the Tigris, roughly between the modern cities of Samarra and Baghdad.[3]

Textual sources[edit]

Agade-ki ("Country of Akkad"), on a cylinder seal of Shar-Kali-Sharri.

Before the decipherment of cuneiform in the 19th century, the city was known only from a single reference in Genesis 10:10[4] where it is written אַכַּד‎ (ʾĂkăḏ), rendered in the KJV as Accad. The name appears in a list of the cities of Nimrod in Sumer (Shinar).

Walther Sallaberger and Westenholz (1999) cite 160 known mentions of the city in the extant cuneiform corpus, in sources ranging in date from the Old Akkadian period itself down to the Neo-Babylonian period. The name is spelled logographically as URIKI, or phonetically as a-ga-dèKI, variously transcribed into English as Akkad, Akkade or Agade.[5]

The etymology of the name is unclear, but it is not of Akkadian (Semitic) origin. Various suggestions have proposed Sumerian, Hurrian or Lullubian etymologies. 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 mention of the city in one pre-Sargonic year-name.[6]

Black-and-white photograph of a statue consisting of an inscribed, round pedestal on top of which sits a seated nude male figure of which only the legs and lower torso are preserved.
The Bassetki Statue, found in Dohuk Governorate, Iraqi Kurdistan, dated to the reign of Naram-Sin (c.2254–2218) with an inscription mentioning the construction of a temple in Akkad

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.[7]

The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar-Astarte (Inanna), who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or "Warlike Ishtar".[8] Her husband Ilaba was also revered in Akkad. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Sippar in the Old Babylonian period, possibly because Akkad itself had been destroyed by that time.[5] The city was certainly in ruins by the mid-first millennium BC.[2]


Many older proposals put Akkad on the Euphrates, but more recent discussions conclude that a location on the Tigris is more likely.[9]

The identification of Akkad with Sippar ša Annunîtum (modern Tell ed-Der), along a canal opposite Sippar ša Šamaš (Sippar, modern Tell Abu Habba) was rejected by Unger (1928) based on a Neo-Babylonian text (6th century BC) that lists Sippar ša Annunîtum and Akkad as separate places.[10]

Harvey Weiss (1975) proposed Ishan Mizyad, a large (1000 meters by 600 meters) low site 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest from Kish.[11] Excavations have shown that the remains at Ishan Mizyad date to the Ur III period and not to the Akkadian period, though Akkadian fragments were found in a surface survey.[5][12]

Discussion since the 1990s has focused on sites along or east of the Tigris. Wall-Romana (1990) suggested a location near the confluence of the Diyala River with the Tigris, and more specifically Tell Muhammad in the south-eastern suburbs of Baghdad as the likeliest candidate for Akkad, although admitting that no remains datable to the Akkadian period had been found at the site.[13]

Sallaberger and Westenholz (1999) suggested a location close to the confluence of the ʿAdhaim river east of Samarra (at or near Dhuluiya).[3] Similarly, Reade (2002) suggested a site in this vicinity, by Qādisiyyah, based on a fragment of an Old Akkadian statue (now in the British Museum) found there.[14] This had been suggested much earlier by Lane.[15]

The area of the Little Zab river has also been suggested.[16]

Based on an Old Babylonian period itinerary from Mari, Akkad would be on the Tigris just downstream of the current city of Baghdad. Mari documents also indicate that Akkad is sited at a river crossing.[17]

An Old Babylonian prisoner record from the time of Rīm-Anum of Uruk in the 18th century BC implies that Akkad is in the area of Eshnunna, in the Diyala Valley north-west of Sumer proper.[18] It has also been suggested that Akkad was under the control of Eshnunna in that period.[19]

Khalid al-Admi proposed, based on a kudurru dating to the time of Kassite ruler Marduk-nadin-ahhe (with an earlier one dated to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar I) that Akkad had been renamed sometime in the 2nd millennium. The suggestion from the kuduru is that the name would be Dur-Sharru-Kin, which is not to be confused with the one built by the Neo-Assyrians in the 8th century BC. The location would be "on the bank of the river Nish-Gatti in the district of Milikku". The most likely site would be Dur-Rimush (Tell el-Mjelaat).[20]

On the Land grant to Marduk-apla-iddina I by Meli-Shipak II the recipient is given land in communal land of the city of Agade located around the settlement of Tamakku adjacent to the Nar Sarri (Canal of the King) in Bīt-Piri’-Amurru, north of the "land of Istar-Agade" and east of KIbati canal, by the Kassite ruler Meli-Shipak II (ca. 1186–1172 BC).[21]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Miller, Douglas B.; Shipp, R. Mark (1996). An Akkadian Handbook: Paradigms, Helps, Glossary, Logograms, and Sign List. Eisenbrauns. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-931464-86-7.
  2. ^ a b Foster 2013, p. 266
  3. ^ a b "Akkade may thus be one of the many large tells on the confluence of the Adheim River with the Tigris" (Sallaberger, and Westenholz 1999, p. 32.
  4. ^ Genesis 10:10, King James Version (Oxford Standard, 1769)
  5. ^ a b c Sallaberger & Westenholz 1999, pp. 31–32
  6. ^ Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 205–206
  7. ^ van de Mieroop 2007, pp. 68–69
  8. ^ Meador 2001, p. 8
  9. ^ Wall-Romana 1990, p. 209
  10. ^ Unger 1928, p. 62
  11. ^ Weiss 1975, p. 451
  12. ^ Mahmoud, N. Ahmed, "The Ur III tablets from Ishan Mizyad", Acta Sumerologica, vol. 11, pp. 330-352, 1989
  13. ^ Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 243–244
  14. ^ Reade 2002, p. 269
  15. ^ [1] Lane, W. H., Babylonian Problems, John Murray, London, 1923
  16. ^ [2] McGuire Gibson, The city and area of Kish, Field Research Projects, 1972
  17. ^ [3] Andrew George, "Babylonian and Assyrian: a history of Akkadian", In: Postgate, J. N. (ed.), Languages of Iraq, Ancient and Modern, London: British School of Archaeology in Iraq, 2007, p. 35
  18. ^ Michael Jursa, "A 'Prisoner Text' from Birmingham", in G. Chambon, M. Guichard & A.-I. Langlois (eds), De l’argile au numérique. Mélanges assyriologiques en l’honneur de Dominique Charpin (Leuven), pp. 507-512, 2019
  19. ^ Ziegler N. & A.-I. Langlois, "Les toponymes paléo-babyloniens de la Haute-Mésopotamie", Matériaux pour l’étude de la toponymie et de la topographie I/1, Paris, 2016
  20. ^ Khalid al-Admi, "A New Kudurru of Maroduk-Nadin-Ahhe IM. 90585", Sumer, vol. 38, no. 1-2, pp. 121-133,1982
  21. ^ W. J. Hinke (1907). A New Boundary Stone of Nebuchadrezzar I from Nippur (BE IV). University of Philadelphia. pp. 27–29, 232–233.


  • Foster, Benjamin R. (2013), "Akkad (Agade)", in Bagnall, Roger S. (ed.), The Encyclopedia of Ancient History, Chicago: Blackwell, pp. 266–267, doi:10.1002/9781444338386.wbeah01005, ISBN 9781444338386
  • Meador, Betty De Shong (2001), Inanna, Lady of the Largest Heart. Poems by the Sumerian High Priestess Enheduanna, Austin: University of Texas Press, ISBN 978-0-292-75242-9
  • Pruß, Alexander (2004), "Remarks on the Chronological Periods", in Lebeau, Marc; Sauvage, Martin (eds.), Atlas of Preclassical Upper Mesopotamia, Subartu, vol. 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, S2CID 161326049
  • Sallaberger, Walther; Westenholz, Aage (1999), Mesopotamien: Akkade-Zeit und Ur III-Zeit, Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis, vol. 160/3, Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, ISBN 352553325X
  • Unger, Eckhard (1928), "Akkad", in Ebeling, Erich; Meissner, Bruno (eds.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie (in German), vol. 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, doi:10.1086/373442, JSTOR 546244, S2CID 161165836
  • Weiss, Harvey (1975), "Kish, Akkad and Agade", Journal of the American Oriental Society, 95 (3): 434–453, doi:10.2307/599355, JSTOR 599355