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/; also spelt Accad, Akkade, or Agade, Akkadian: 𒀀𒂵𒉈𒆠 akkadê, also 𒌵𒆠 URIKI in Sumerian during the Ur III period) 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. In the early days of research various unidentified mounds were considered as the location of Akkad.[1] In modern times most of the attention has focused on an area roughly defined by 1) near Eshnunna, 2) near Sippar, 3) not far from Kish and Babylon, 4) near the Tigris River, and 5) not far from the Diyala River - all within roughly 30 kilometers of modern Baghdad in central Iraq. There are also location proposals as far afield as the Mosul area in northern Iraq.[2][3][4]

The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar-Annunitum or ‘Aštar-annunîtum (Warlike Ishtar),[5] though it may have been a different aspect, Istar-Ulmašītum.[6] Her husband Ilaba was also revered. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Girsu and possibly Sippar in the Old Babylonian period.[2]

The city is possibly mentioned in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 10:10) where it is written אַכַּד‎ (ʾAkkaḏ, classically transliterated Accad), in a list of the cities of Nimrod in Sumer (Shinar).

In the early days of Assyriology, it was suggested that the name of Agade is not of Akkadian language origin. Proposals include Sumerian language, Hurrian language or the Lullubian (though that is unattested). The non-Akkadian origin of the city's name would suggest that the site may have been occupied in pre-Sargonic times.[7]


A year name of En-šakušuana (c. 2350 BC), king of Uruk and a contemporary of Lugal-zage-si of Umma, was "Year in which En-šakušuana defeated Akkad". This would have been shortly before the rise of the Akkadian Empire and part of his northern campaign that also defeated Kish and Akshak.[8][9]

A number of fragments of royal statues of Manishtushu (c. 2270–2255 BC), second Akkadian ruler, all bearing portions of a "standard inscription". It mentions Agade[10] An excerpt:

"Man-istusu, king of the world: when he conquered Ansan and Sirihum, had ... ships cross the Lower Sea. ... He quarried the black stone of the mountains across the Lower Sea, loaded (it) on ships, and moored (the ships) at the quay of Agade"[11]

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 BC) 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.[12]

"Naram-Sin, the mighty, king of Agade, when the four quarters together revolted against him, ... In view of the fact that he protected the foundations of his city from danger, (the citizens of his city requested from Astar in Eanna, Enlil in Nippur, Dagan in Tuttul, Ninhursag in Kes, Ea in Eridu, Sin in Ur, Samas in Sippar, (and) Nergal in Kutha, that (Naram-Sin) be (made) the god of their city, and they built within Agade a temple (dedicated) to him. ... "[11]

One year name of Naram-Sin reads "The year the wall of Agade <was built>". Another is "Year in which the temple of Isztar in Agade was built".[11]

It is known from textual sources that the late 19th century BC rulers of Eshnunna performed cultic activities at Akkad.[13]

Based on texts found at Mari, the Amorite king Shamshi-Adad (1808–1776 BC), in the final years of his reign, went to the cities of "Rapiqum and Akkad" (they having been captured earlier by his son Yasmah-Adad) as part of one of his military campaigns, in this case against Eshnunna.[14][15]

The prologue of the Laws of Hammurabi (circa 1750 BC) includes the phrase "the one who installs Ištar in the temple Eulmaš inside Akkade city". It also holds a list of cities in order along their watercourse ie "... Tutub, Eshnunna, Agade, Ashur, ..." which would place Akkade off the Tigris between Eshnunna and Ashur.[16][17]

Centuries later, an old Babylonian text (purportedly a copy of an original Sargon of Akkad (2334–2279 BC) statue inscription) refers to ships being docked at the quay of Agade, i.e. "Sargon moo[red] the ships of Meluhha Magan, and Tilmun] a[t the quay of] Ag[ade].".[11][18]

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

List of slaves from the Old Babylonian city of Sippar include two female slaves who, based on the standard naming scheme, are either from Akkad or were owned by someone from Akkad, ie "Taram-Agade and Taram-Akkadi". The former was also the name of a daughter of Akkadian ruler Naram-Sin several centuries beforehand.[19]

According to a purported brick inscription copy made during the reign of the Neo-Babylonian ruler Nabonidus (556 - 539 BC) many centuries later, the Kassite ruler Kurigalzu I (circa 1375 BC) reported rebuilding the Akitu house of Ishtar at Akkade.[20][21] Another Nabonidus period copy indicates Kurigalzu (unclear if first or second of that name) left an inscription at Akkade recording his fruitless search for the E.ul.mas (temple of Istar-Annunitum).[22] Nabonidus claimed that the Assyrian ruler Esarhaddon (681–669 BC) had rebuilt the E.ul.mas temple of Istar-Annunitum at Agade.[23]

The Elamite ruler Shutruk-Nakhunte (1184 to 1155 BC) conquered part of Mesopotamia, noting that he defeated Sippar. As part of the spoils some millennium old royal Akkadian statues were taken back to Susa including the Victory Stele of Naram-Sin and a statue of the Akkadian ruler Manishtushu. It is unknown if the statues were taken from Akkad or had been moved to Sippar.[10][24]

Cyrus the Great (c. 600–530 BC), after conquering Mesopotamia, wrote

"... all of them (kings from the entire world) brought their heavy tribute and kissed my feet in Babylon. From (a region) as far as the city of Assur and the city of Susa, the city of Agade, the land of Esnunna, the town Zamban, the town Me-Turnu, the city of Der, as far as the land of the Gutis, (these) sacred cities across the Tigris ..."[25]

The location "Dur(BAD₃)-DA-ga-de₃" (Fortress of Agade) was frequently mentioned in texts of the Ur III period, noting the indication of deification.[26]


Map showing locations of Sippar, Eshnunna, Kish, and Babylon – cities suggested as close to Akkad

It has been proposed, based on kudurrus from the reigns of Kassite rulers Marduk-nadin-ahhe (1095–1078 BC) and Nebuchadnezzar I (1121–1100 BC), that Akkad had been renamed sometime in the 2nd millennium. The kuduru suggests the new name was Dur-Sharru-Kin, "on the bank of the river Nish-Gatti in the district of Milikku". This is not to be confused with the Dur-Sharukin built by the Neo-Assyrians in the 8th century BC: the most likely site would be Dur-Rimush, nine kilometers north of Dur-Sharukin (Tell el-Mjelaat).[27]

The area of the Little Zab river, which originates in Iran and joins the Tigris just south of Al Zab in the Kurdistan region of Iraq, has also been suggested.[28]

A proposed location of Agade is Ishan Mizyad (Tell Mizyad), a large (1,000 meters by 600 meters) low site 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest from Kish and northeast of Babylon.[4] Excavations have shown that the remains at Ishan Mizyad date to the Akkadian period (about 200 Old Akkadian administrative texts found, mainly lists of workers), Ur III period, Isin-Larsa period, and Neo-Babylonian period.[29][2][30][31][32] Until Neo-Babylonian times a canal ran from Kish to Mizyad.[33][34]

On the Kassite Land grant to Marduk-apla-iddina I by Meli-Shipak II (1186–1172 BC) the recipient is given cultivated land in the 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.[35]

Based on an Old Babylonian period itinerary from Mari which places Akkade between the cities of Sippar (Sippar and Sippar-Amnanum) and Khafajah (Tutub) on a route to Eshnunna, Akkad would be on the Tigris just downstream of the current city of Baghdad, near the crossing of the Tigris and Diyala River. Mari documents also indicate that Akkad is sited at a river crossing.[36]

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.[37] It has also been suggested that Akkad was under the control of Eshnunna in that period.[38] It is also known that the rulers of Eshnunna continued cult activities in the city of Akkad.[39]

A text from the reign of Zimri-Lim (c. 1775–1761 BC) also suggests a location not far from Eshnunna. After Eshnunna was conquered by Atamrum of Andarig a songstress, Huššutum, was repatriated by Mari and soon reached Agade.

"Gumul-Sin brought the woman out of the city gate and departed. (A report is taken back to my lord.) I gave this instruction to the guides, ‘Until YOU safely guide the woman through a frontier town, modify her garment and head-gear.’ But, being negligent, the men did not modify (the attire) but added three to four (other women) along with her. Having stocked up, they left and reached Agade. They drank beer and, having the woman ride a mule, they led her all the way through the square in Agade. The woman was recognized and she was seized. When news of her capture reached Atamrum in Ešnunna, a troop of 30 men armed with bronze spears surrounded Gumul-Sin saying, ‘Your lord has conveyed to you 5 manas of silver, yet you keep on selling women from Ešnunna."[40][41]

Tell Muhammad (possibly Diniktum) in the south-eastern suburbs of Baghdad near the confluence of the Diyala River with the Tigris, has been proposed as a candidate for the location of Akkad.[3] No remains datable to the Akkadian Empire period have been found at the site. Excavations found remains dating to the Isin-Larsa, Old Babylonian, and Kassite periods.[42]

A site, locally called El Sanam (or Makan el Sanam), near Qādisiyyah (Kudsia), has been suggested based on the base fragment of an Old Akkadian statue (now in the British Museum) found there.[43] The statue is of black stone and was originally three meters high and thought to be of ruler Rimush. The upper portion of the statue was reportedly destroyed by a local imam for idolatry. The site in question has been partially eroded away by the Tigris and is located between Samarra and the confluence of the Tigiris and ʿAdhaim rivers.[44][45] The fragment was first observed and described by Claudius Rich in 1821.[46] This location had been suggested much earlier by Lane.[47] More recently this site has been identified in a regional survey (site N) as lying not far south of the site of Samarra on the Tigris river by an old citadel.[48]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 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
  2. ^ a b c Westenholz, C. F., "The Old Akkadian Period: History and Culture", in Mesopotamien: Akkade-Zeit und Ur III-Zeit (Orbis Biblicus et Orientalis 160/3), Universitätsverlag Freiburg Schweiz, Freiburg, Schweiz, pp. 11-110, 1999
  3. ^ a b 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
  4. ^ a b Harvey Weiss, "Kish, Akkad and Agade", Review of "McGuire Gibson, The city and area of Kish", Journal of the American Oriental Society, vol. 95, no. 3, pp. 434–53, 1975
  5. ^ 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
  6. ^ Sharlach, T. M., "Belet-šuhnir and Belet-terraban and Religious Activities of the Queen and the Concubine(s)", in An Ox of One's Own: Royal Wives and Religion at the Court of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, pp. 261-286, 2017
  7. ^ Speiser, Ephraim Avigdor, "Elam And Sumer In The Epigraphical Sources", in Mesopotamian Origins: The Basic Population of the Near East, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, pp. 26-58, 1930
  8. ^ Pomponio, Francesco, "Further Considerations On KišKI In The Ebla Texts", Revue d’Assyriologie et d’archéologie Orientale, vol. 107, pp. 71–83, 2013
  9. ^ A. Westenholz, "Old Sumerian and Old Akkadian Texts in Philadelphia, Chiefly from Nippur", I: Literary and Lexical Texts and the Earliest Administrative Documents from Nippur. Bibliotheca Mesopotamica 1. Malibu: Undena Publications, 1975
  10. ^ a b Eppihimer, Melissa, "Assembling King and State: The Statues of Manishtushu and the Consolidation of Akkadian Kingship", American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 114, no. 3, pp. 365–80, 2010
  11. ^ a b c d Douglas R. Frayne, The Sargonic and Gutian Periods (2334-2113), University of Toronto Press, pp. 5-218, 1993, ISBN 0-8020-0593-4
  12. ^ A. H. al-Fouadi, "Bassetki Statue with an Old Akkadian Royal Inscription of Naram-Sin of Agade (2291-2255 BC)", Sumer, vol. 32, no. 1-2, pp. 63-76, 1976
  13. ^ Nele Ziegler, "Akkad à l’époque paleo- babylonienne", in Entre les fleuves – II: D’Aššur à Mari et au- delà, ed. N. Ziegler and E. Cancik- Kirschbaum, Gladbeck: PeWe, 2014
  14. ^ Lewy, Hildegard, "The Synchronism Assyria—Ešnunna—Babylon", Die Welt Des Orients, vol. 2, no. 5/6, pp. 438–53, 1959
  15. ^ Dossin, G., "Archives royales de Mari1", Paris: Impr. Nationale, 1950 (in french)
  16. ^ Steinert, Ulrike, "Akkadian Terms for Streets and the Topography of Mesopotamian Cities", Altorientalische Forschungen, vol. 38, no. 2, pp. 309-347, 2011
  17. ^ Composite of Laws of Hammurabi at CDLI - RIME 4.03.06.add21 (P464358)
  18. ^ Cuneiform Inscription Of Defeat Of Oman & Indus Valley - MS-2814 Schoyen Collection
  19. ^ Harris, Rivkah, "Notes on the Slave Names of Old Babylonian Sippar", Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, pp. 46–51, 1977
  20. ^ Clayden, T., "Kurigalzu I and the restoration of Babylonia", Iraq 58, pp. 109–121, 1996
  21. ^ Frame, G., "Nabonidus and the history of the Eulmas temple at Akkad", Mesopotamia 28, pp. 21-50, 1993
  22. ^ George, A. R., "House Most High. The temples of ancient Mesopotamia", Winona Lake, 1993 ISBN 978-0931464805
  23. ^ S. Langdon, "New Inscriptions of Nabuna'id", American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures 32, 1915-16
  24. ^ Winter, Irene J., "How Tall Was Naram-Sîn’s Victory Stele? Speculation on the Broken Bottom", in Leaving No Stones Unturned: Essays on the Ancient Near East and Egypt in Honor of Donald P. Hansen, edited by Erica Ehrenberg, University Park, USA: Penn State University Press, pp. 301-312, 2021
  25. ^ Rawlinson, Henry Creswicke, "A selection from the miscellaneous inscriptions of Assyria and Babylonia", in The Cuneiform inscriptions of Western Asia, vol. 5, London, 1884
  26. ^ Steinkeller, Piotr, "The Divine Rulers of Akkade and Ur: Toward a Definition of the Deification of Kings in Babylonia", History, Texts and Art in Early Babylonia: Three Essays, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, pp. 107-157, 2017
  27. ^ [1] Khalid al-Admi, "A New Kudurru of Maroduk-Nadin-Ahhe IM. 90585", Sumer, vol. 38, no. 1–2, pp. 121–133, 1982
  28. ^ [2] McGuire Gibson, The city and area of Kish, Field Research Projects, 1972
  29. ^ "Excavations in Iraq, 1979–80." Iraq, vol. 43, no. 2, pp. 167–98, 1981
  30. ^ Mahmoud, N. Ahmed, "The Ur III tablets from Ishan Mizyad", Acta Sumerologica, vol. 11, pp. 330–352, 1989
  31. ^ "Excavations in Iraq, 1981–82." Iraq, vol. 45, no. 2, pp. 199–224, 1983
  32. ^ al-Mutawali, Nawala A., "Clay Tablets from Tell Mizyad", Sumer 41, pp. 135–136, 1985 (arabic)
  33. ^ Buccellati, Marilyn K., "Orientalists Meet at Berkeley", Archaeology, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 303–304, 1968
  34. ^ Al-Mutawally, N.A.M., "Economical Texts from Išān-Mazyad", in De Meyer, L. and Gasche, H., (eds.), Mésopotamie et Élam, Actes de la XXXVIème Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale Gand, 10-14 juillet 1989, Ghent, pp. 45-46, 1991
  35. ^ [3] W. J. Hinke, "A New Boundary Stone of Nebuchadrezzar I from Nippur (BE IV)", University of Philadelphia, 1907
  36. ^ [4] 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
  37. ^ 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 ISBN 978-9042938724
  38. ^ 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
  39. ^ Nele Ziegler, "Akkad à l’époque paleo- babylonienne," in Entre les fleuves – II: D’Aššur à Mari et au- delà, ed. N. Ziegler and E. Cancik- Kirschbaum, Gladbeck: PeWe, 2014
  40. ^ Sasson, Jack M., "Warfare", From the Mari Archives: An Anthology of Old Babylonian Letters, University Park, USA: Penn State University Press, 2015, pp. 181-214, 2015
  41. ^ [5]Chaffey, Ilana. Come as you are, as you were, as I want you to be: A Study of Foreign Musicians in the Mari Archives. Diss. Macquarie University, 2022
  42. ^ Gentili, Paolo, "Wandering Through Time: The Chronology Of Tell Mohammed", Studi Classici e Orientali, vol. 57, pp. 39–55, 2011
  43. ^ Ross, John, "A Journey from Baghdád to the Ruins of Opis, and the Median Wall, in 1834", The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, vol. 11, pp. 121–36, 1841
  44. ^ 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
  45. ^ Thomas, Ariane, "The Akkadian Royal Image: On a Seated Statue of Manishtushu", Zeitschrift für Assyriologie und vorderasiatische Archäologie, vol. 105, no. 1–2, pp. 86–117, 2015
  46. ^ [6] Rich, C. J., "Narrative of a Residence in Koordistan &c, edited by his widow", London, 1836
  47. ^ [7] Lane, W. H., Babylonian Problems, John Murray, London, 1923
  48. ^ Northedge, Alastair, and Robin Falkner, "The 1986 Survey Season at Sāmarrā", Iraq, vol. 49, pp. 143–73, 1987

Further reading[edit]

  • [8]Kawakami, Naohiko, "The northwestern territorial extent of Sargon's Empire of Akkad: studies on the royal inscriptions and the historical literary texts on the horizons of the historical geography", Dissertation, University of Liverpool, 2004
  • Naohiko Kawakami, "Searching for the Location of the Ancient City of Akkade in Relation to the Ancient Course of the Tigris Using Historical Geographical and GIS Analyses", AKKADICA, vol. 143, pp. 101–135, 2022
  • [9]Naohiko Kawakami, "The Location of the Ancient City of Akkade: Review of Past Theories and Identification of Issues for Formulating a Specific Methodology for Searching Akkade", AL-RĀFIDĀN: Journal of Western Asiatic Studies, vol. 45, pp. 45–68, 2023
  • G.J. P. McEwan, "Agade after the Gutian Destruction: The Afterlife of a Mesopotamian City", AfO Beiheft 19, pp. 8–15, 1982
  • [10] Nowicki, Stefan, "Sargon of Akkade and his god: Comments on the worship of the god of the father among the ancient Semites", Acta Orientalia Academiae Scientiarum Hungaricae 69.1, pp. 63–82, 2016
  • 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
  • Sallaberger, W./I. Schrakamp, "Philological data for a historical chronology of Mesopotamia in the 3rd millennium", in: W. Sallaberger/I. Schrakamp (eds.), History & philology, ARCANE 3. Turnhout, pp. 1–13, 2015 ISBN 978-2503534947
  • 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