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Sargon of Akkad (/ˈsɑːrɡɒn/; Akkadian: 𒊬𒊒𒄀 Šar-ru-gi),[3] also known as Sargon the Great,[4] was the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire, known for his conquests of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th to 23rd centuries BC.[2] He is sometimes identified as the first person in recorded history to rule over an empire.

He was the founder of the "Sargonic" or "Old Akkadian" dynasty, which ruled for about a century after his death until the Gutian conquest of Sumer.[5] The Sumerian king list makes him the cup-bearer to king Ur-Zababa of Kish.[6] He is not to be confused with Sargon I, a later king of the Old Assyrian period.[7]

His empire is thought to have included most of Mesopotamia, parts of the Levant, besides incursions into Hurrite and Elamite territory, ruling from his (archaeologically as yet unidentified) capital, Akkad (also Agade).

Sargon appears as a legendary figure in Neo-Assyrian literature of the 8th to 7th centuries BC. Tablets with fragments of a Sargon Birth Legend were found in the Library of Ashurbanipal.[8][9][10]

Name

The Akkadian name is normalized as 𒊬𒊒𒄀 (Šar-ru-gi), or 𒊬𒌝𒄀 (Šar-um-GI).[3] His titulature is "Sargon, king of Akkad", 𒊬𒊒𒄀 𒈗 𒀀𒂵𒉈𒆠 (Šar-ru-gi lugal a-ga-de3ki).[11][12] Later during the 2nd millennium BCE in Old Babylonian tablets relating the legends of Sargon, his name is transcribed as 𒊬𒊒𒌝𒄀𒅔 (Šar-ru-um-ki-in).[13]

"King Sargon" (𒊬𒊒𒄀 𒈗 Šar-ru-gi lugal) on the Victory stele of Sargon.[14][15][16]

The terms "Pre-Sargonic" and "Post-Sargonic" were used in Assyriology based on the chronologies of Nabonidus before the historical existence of Sargon of Akkad was confirmed. The form Šarru-ukīn was known from the Assyrian Sargon Legend discovered in 1867 in Ashurbanipal's library at Nineveh.

A contemporary reference to Sargon thought to have been found on the cylinder seal of Ibni-sharru, a high-ranking official serving under Sargon. Joachim Menant published a description of this seal in 1877, reading the king's name as Shegani-shar-lukh, and did not yet identify it with "Sargon the Elder" (who was identified with the Old Assyrian king Sargon I).[17]

In 1883, the British Museum acquired the "mace-head of Shar-Gani-sharri", a votive gift deposited at the temple of Shamash in Sippar. This "Shar-Gani" was identified with the Sargon of Agade of Assyrian legend.[18] The identification of "Shar-Gani-sharri" with Sargon was recognised as mistaken in the 1910s. Shar-Gani-sharri (Shar-Kali-Sharri) is, in fact, Sargon's great-grandson, the successor of Naram-Sin.[19]

It is not entirely clear whether the Neo-Assyrian king Sargon II was directly named for Sargon of Akkad, as there is some uncertainty whether his name should be rendered Šarru-ukīn or as Šarru-kēn(u).[20]

Chronology

Gutian conquest of Sumer.[5] The Sumerian king list makes him the cup-bearer to king Ur-Zababa of Kish.[6] He is not to be confused with Sargon I, a later king of the Old Assyrian period.[7]

His empire is thought to have included most of Mesopotamia, parts of the Levant, besides incursions into Hurrite and Elamite territory, ruling from his (archaeologically as yet unidentified) capital, Akkad (also Agade).

Sargon appears as a legendary figure in Neo-Assyrian literature of the 8th to 7th centuries BC. Tablets with fragments of a Sargon Birth Legend were found in the Library of Ashurbanipal.[8][9][10]

The Akkadian name is normalized as 𒊬𒊒𒄀 (Šar-ru-gi), or 𒊬𒌝𒄀 (Šar-um-GI).[3] His titulature is "Sargon, king of Akkad", 𒊬𒊒𒄀 𒈗 𒀀𒂵𒉈𒆠 (Šar-ru-gi lugal a-ga-de3ki).[11][12] Later during the 2nd millennium BCE in Old Babylonian tablets relating the legends of Sargon, his name is transcribed as 𒊬𒊒𒌝𒄀𒅔 (Šar-ru-um-ki-in).[13]

"King Sargon" (𒊬𒊒𒄀 𒈗 Šar-ru-gi lugal) on the Victory stele of Sargon.[14][15][16]

The terms "Pre-Sargonic" and "Post-Sargonic" were used in Assyriology based on the chronologies of Nabonidus before the historical existence of Sargon of Akkad was confirmed. The form Šarru-ukīn was known from the Assyrian Sargon Legend discovered in 1867 in Ashurbanipal's library at Nineveh.

A contemporary reference to Sargon thought to have been found on the cylinder seal of Ibni-sharru, a high-ranking official serving under Sargon. Joachim Menant published a description of this seal in 1877, reading the king's name as Shegani-shar-lukh, and did not yet identify it with "Sargon the Elder" (who was identified with the Old Assyrian king Sargon I).[17]

In 1883, the British Museum acquired the "mace-head of Shar-Gani-sharri", a votive gift deposited at the temple of Shamash in Sippar. This "Shar-Gani" was identified with the Sargon of Agade of Assyrian legend.[18] The identification of "Shar-Gani-sharri" with Sargon was recognised as mistaken in the 1910s. Shar-Gani-sharri (Shar-Kali-Sharri) is, in fact, Sargon's great-grandson, the successor of The terms "Pre-Sargonic" and "Post-Sargonic" were used in Assyriology based on the chronologies of Nabonidus before the historical existence of Sargon of Akkad was confirmed. The form Šarru-ukīn was known from the Assyrian Sargon Legend discovered in 1867 in Ashurbanipal's library at Nineveh.

A contemporary reference to Sargon thought to have been found on the cylinder seal of Ibni-sharru, a high-ranking official serving under Sargon. Joachim Menant published a description of this seal in 1877, reading the king's name as Shegani-shar-lukh, and did not yet identify it with "Sargon the Elder" (who was identified with the Old Assyrian king Sargon I).[17]

In 1883, the British Museum acquired the "mace-head of Shar-Gani-sharri", a votive gift deposited at the temple of Shamash in Sippar. This "Shar-Gani" was identified with the Sargon of Agade of Assyrian legend.[18] The identification of "Shar-Gani-sharri" with Sargon was recognised as mistaken in the 1910s. Shar-Gani-sharri (Shar-Kali-Sharri) is, in fact, Sargon's great-grandson, the successor of Naram-Sin.[19]

It is not entirely clear whether the Neo-Assyrian king Sargon II was directly named for Sargon of Akkad, as there is some uncertainty whether his name should be rendered Šarru-ukīn or as Šarru-kēn(u).[20]

Chronology

A contemporary reference to Sargon thought to have been found on the cylinder seal of Ibni-sharru, a high-ranking official serving under Sargon. Joachim Menant published a description of this seal in 1877, reading the king's name as Shegani-shar-lukh, and did not yet identify it with "Sargon the Elder" (who was identified with the Old Assyrian king Sargon I).[17]

In 1883, the British Museum acquired the "mace-head of Shar-Gani-sharri", a votive gift deposited at the temple of Shamash in Sippar. This "Shar-Gani" was identified with the Sargon of Agade of Assyrian legend.[18] The identification of "Shar-Gani-sharri" with Sargon was recognised as mistaken in the 1910s. Shar-Gani-sharri (Shar-Kali-Sharri) is, in fact, Sargon's great-grandson, the successor of Naram-Sin.[19]

It is not entirely clear whether the Neo-Assyrian king Sargon II was directly named for Sargon of Akkad, as there is some uncertainty whether his name should be rendered Šarru-ukīn or as Šarru-kēn(u).[20]

Primary sources pertaining to Sargon are sparse; the main near-contemporary reference is that in the various versions of the Sumerian King List. Here, Sargon is mentioned as the son of a gardener, former cup-bearer of Ur-Zababa of Kish. He usurped the kingship from Lugal-zage-si of Uruk and took it to his own city of Akkad. Various copies of the king list give the duration of his reign as either 54, 55 or 56 years.[21] Numerous fragmentary inscriptions relating to Sargon are also known.[22]

In absolute years, his reign would correspond to ca. 2340–2284 BC in the middle chronology.[2] His successors until the Gutian conquest of Sumer are also known as the "Sargonic Dynasty" and their rule as the "Sargonic Period" of Mesopotamian history.[23]

Foster (1982) argued that the reading of 55 years as the duration of Sargon's reign was, in fact, a corruption of an original interpretation of 37 years. An older version of the king list gives Sargon's reign as lasting for 40 years.[24]

Thorkild Jacobsen marked the

In absolute years, his reign would correspond to ca. 2340–2284 BC in the middle chronology.[2] His successors until the Gutian conquest of Sumer are also known as the "Sargonic Dynasty" and their rule as the "Sargonic Period" of Mesopotamian history.[23]

Foster (1982) argued that the reading of 55 years as the duration of Sargon's reign was, in fact, a corruption of an original interpretation of 37 years. An older version of the king list gives Sargon's reign as lasting for 40 years.[24]

Thorkild Jacobsen marked the clause about Sargon's father being a gardener as a lacuna, indicating his uncertainty about its meaning.[25] Ur-Zababa and Lugal-zage-si are both listed as kings, but separated by several additional named rulers of Kish, who seem to have been merely governors or vassals under the Akkadian Empire.[26]

The claim that Sargon was the original founder of Akkad has been called into question with the discovery of an inscription mentioning the place and dated to the first year of Enshakushanna, who almost certainly preceded him.[27] The Weidner Chronicle (ABC 19:51) states that it was Sargon who "built Babylon in front of Akkad."[28][29] The Chronicle of Early Kings (ABC 20:18–19) likewise states that late in his reign, Sargon "dug up the soil of the pit of Babylon, and made a counterpart of Babylon next to Agade."[29][30] Van de Mieroop suggested that those two chronicles may refer to the much later Assyrian king, Sargon II of the Neo-Assyrian Empire, rather than to Sargon of Akkad.[31]

Some of the regnal year names of Sargon are preserved, and throw some light in the events of his reign, particularly the conquest of the surrounding territories of Simurrum, Elam and Mari, and Uru'a, thought to be a city in Elam:[32]

Sargon became the subject of legendary narratives describing his rise to power from humble origins and his conquest of Mesopotamia in later Assyrian and Babylonian literature. Apart from these secondary, and partly legendary, accounts, there are many inscriptions due to Sargon himself, although the majority of these are known only from much later copies.[36] The Louvre has fragments of two Sargonic victory steles recovered from Susa (where they were presumably transported from Mesopotamia in the 12th century BC).[37]

Sargon appears to have promoted the use of Semitic (Akkadian) in inscriptions. He frequently calls himself "king of Akkad" first, after the city of Akkad which he apparently founded. He appears to have taken over the rule of Kish at some point, and later also much of Mesopotamia, referring to himself as "Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed of Anu, king of the land [Mesopotamia], governor (ensi) of Enlil".[1][38]

While various copies of the Sumerian king list credit Sargon with a 56, 55, or 54-year reign, dated documents have been found for only four different year-names of his actual reign. The names of these four years describe his campaigns against Elam, Mari, Simurrum (a Hurrian region), and Uru'a (an Elamite city-state).[39]

During Sargon's reign, East Semitic was standardized and adapted for use with the cuneiform script previously used in the Sumerian language into what is now known as the "Akkadian language". A style of calligraphy developed in which text on clay tablets and cylinder seals was arranged amidst scenes of mythology and ritual.[40]

Nippur inscription

Prisoners escorted by a soldier, on a victory stele of Sargon of Akkad, circa 2300 BCE.[41] Probably from the end of Sargon's reign.[42] The hairstyle of the prisoners (curly hair on top and short hair on the sides) is characteristic of Sumerians, as also seen on the Standard of Ur.[43] Louvre Museum.

Among the most important sources for Sargon's reign is a tablet of the Old Babylonian period recovered at Nippur in the University of Pennsylvania expedition in the 1890s. The tablet is a copy of the inscriptions on the pedestal of a Statue erected by Sargon in the temple of Enlil. Its text was edited by Arno Poebel (1909) and Leon Legrain (1926).[44]

Conquest of Sumer

In the inscription, Sargon styles himself "Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer (mashkim) of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed (guda) of Anu, king of the land [Mesopotamia], governor (ensi) of Enlil". It celebrates the conquest of Uruk and the defeat of Lugalzagesi, whom Sargon brought "in a collar to the gate of Enlil":[45]

"Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed of Anu, king of the land, governor of Enlil: he defeated the city of Semitic (Akkadian) in inscriptions. He frequently calls himself "king of Akkad" first, after the city of Akkad which he apparently founded. He appears to have taken over the rule of Kish at some point, and later also much of Mesopotamia, referring to himself as "Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed of Anu, king of the land [Mesopotamia], governor (ensi) of Enlil".[1][38]

While various copies of the Sumerian king list credit Sargon with a 56, 55, or 54-year reign, dated documents have been found for only four different year-names of his actual reign. The names of these four years describe his campaigns against Elam, Mari, Simurrum (a Hurrian region), and Uru'a (an Elamite city-state).[39]

During Sargon's reign, East Semitic was standardized and adapted for use with the cuneiform script previously used in the Sumerian language into what is now known as the "Akkadian language". A style of calligraphy developed in which text on clay tablets and cylinder seals was arranged amidst scenes of mythology and ritual.[40]

Among the most important sources for Sargon's reign is a tablet of the Old Babylonian period recovered at Nippur in the University of Pennsylvania expedition in the 1890s. The tablet is a copy of the inscriptions on the pedestal of a Statue erected by Sargon in the temple of Enlil. Its text was edited by Arno Poebel (1909) and Leon Legrain (1926).[44]

Conquest of Sumer

In the inscription, Sargon styles himself "Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer (mashkim) of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed (guda) of Anu, king of the land [Mesopotamia], governor (ensi) of Enlil". It celebrates the conquest of Uruk and the defeat of Lugalzagesi, whom Sargon brought "in a collar to the gate of Enlil":[45]

"Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed of Anu, king of the land, governor of Enlil: he defeated the city of Uruk and tore down its walls, in the battle of Uruk he won, took Lugalzagesi king of Uruk in the course of the battle, and led him in a collar to the gate of Enlil".

— Inscription of Sargon (Old Babylonian copy from Nippur).[46]

Sargon then conquered Ur and E-Ninmar and "laid waste" the territory from Lagash to the sea, and

In the inscription, Sargon styles himself "Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer (mashkim) of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed (guda) of Anu, king of the land [Mesopotamia], governor (ensi) of Enlil". It celebrates the conquest of Uruk and the defeat of Lugalzagesi, whom Sargon brought "in a collar to the gate of Enlil":[45]

"Sargon, king of Akkad, overseer of Inanna, king of Kish, anointed of Anu, king of the land, governor of Enlil: he defeated the city of Uruk and tore down its walls, in the battle of Uruk he won, took Lugalzagesi king of Uruk in the course of the battle, and led him in a collar to the gate of Enlil".

— Inscription of Sargon (Old Babylonian copy from Sargon then conquered Ur and E-Ninmar and "laid waste" the territory from Lagash to the sea, and from there went on to conquer and destroy Umma:[47]

"Sargon, king of Agade, was victorious over Ur in battle, conquered the city and destroyed its wall. He

"Sargon, king of Agade, was victorious over Ur in battle, conquered the city and destroyed its wall. He conquered Eninmar, destroyed its walls, and conquered its district and Lagash as far as the sea. He washed his weapons in the sea. He was victorious over Umma in battle, [conquered the city, and destroyed its walls]. [To Sargon], lo[rd] of the land the god Enlil [gave no] ri[val]. The god Enlil gave to him [the Upper Sea and] the [Lower (Sea)."

— Inscription of Sargon. E2.1.1.1Dagan, Sargon conquered territories of Upper Mesopotamia and the Levant, including Mari, Yarmuti (Jarmuth?) and Ibla "up to the Cedar Forest (the Amanus) and up to the Silver Mountain (Aladagh?)", ruling from the "upper sea" (Mediterranean) to the "lower sea" (Persian Gulf).[48][47]

"Sargon the King bowed down to Dagan in Tuttul. He (Dagan) gave to him (Sargon) the Upper Land: Mari, Iarmuti, and Ebla, as far as the Cedar Forest and the Silver Mountains"

— Ni

"Sargon the King bowed down to Dagan in Tuttul. He (Dagan) gave to him (Sargon) the Upper Land: Mari, Iarmuti, and Ebla, as far as the Cedar Forest and the Silver Mountains"

— Nippur inscription of Sargon.Sargon also claims in his inscriptions that he is "Sargon, king of the world, conqueror of Elam and Parahshum", the two major polities to the east of Sumer.[50] He also names various rulers of the east whom he vanquished, such as "Luh-uh-ish-an, son of Hishibrasini, king of Elam", king of Elam" or " Sidga'u, general of Parahshum", who later also appears in an inscription by Rimush.[50]

Sargon triumphed over 34 cities in total. Ships from Meluhha, Magan and Dilmun, rode at anchor in his capital of Akkad.

Sargon triumphed over 34 cities in total. Ships from Meluhha, Magan and Dilmun, rode at anchor in his capital of Akkad.[51]

He entertained a court or standing army of 5,400 men who "ate bread daily before him".[45]

A group of four Babylonian texts, summarized as "Sargon Epos" or Res Gestae Sargonis, shows Sargon as a military commander asking the advice of many subordinates before going on campaigns. The narrative of Sargon, the Conquering Hero, is set at Sargon's court, in a situation of crisis. Sargon addresses his warriors, praising the virtue of heroism, and a lecture by a courtier on the glory achieved by a champion of the army, a narrative relating a campaign of Sargon's into the far land of Uta-raspashtim, including an account of a "darkening of the Sun" and the conquest of the land of Simurrum, and a concluding oration by Sargon listing his conquests.[53]

Akkadian official in the retinue of Sargon of Akkad, holding an axe

The narrative of King of Battle relates Sargon's campaign against the Anatolian city of Purushanda in order to protect his merchants. Versions of this narrative in both The narrative of King of Battle relates Sargon's campaign against the Anatolian city of Purushanda in order to protect his merchants. Versions of this narrative in both Hittite and Akkadian have been found. The Hittite version is extant in six fragments, the Akkadian version is known from several manuscripts found at Amarna, Assur, and Nineveh.[54] The narrative is anachronistic, portraying Sargon in a 19th-century milieu.[55] The same text mentions that Sargon crossed the Sea of the West (Mediterranean Sea) and ended up in Kuppara, which some authors have interpreted as the Akkadian word for Keftiu, an ancient locale usually associated with Crete or Cyprus.[56]

Famine and war threatened Sargon's empire during the latter years of his reign. The Chronicle of Early Kings reports that revolts broke out throughout the area under the last years of his overlordship:

Afterward in his [Sargon's] old age all the lands revolted against him, and they besieged him in Akkad; and Sargon went onward to battle and defeated them; he accomplished their overthrow, and their widespreading host he destroyed. Afterward he attacked the land of Subartu in his might, and they submitted to his arms, and Sargon settled that revolt, and defeated them; he accomplished their overthrow, and their widespreading host he destroyed, and he brought their possessions into Akkad. The soil from the trenches of Babylon he removed, and the boundaries of Akkad he made like those of Babylon. But because of the evil which he had committed, the great lord Marduk was angry, and he destroyed his people by famine. From the rising of the sun unto the setting of the sun they opposed him and gave him no rest.Famine and war threatened Sargon's empire during the latter years of his reign. The Chronicle of Early Kings reports that revolts broke out throughout the area under the last years of his overlordship:

Afterward in his [Sargon's] old age all the lands revolted against him, and they besieged him in Akkad; and Sargon went onward to battle and defeated them; he accomplished their overthrow, and their widespreading host he destroyed. Afterward he attacked the land of Subartu in his might, and they submitted to his arms, and Sargon settled that revolt, and defeated them; he accomplished their overthrow, and their widespreading host he destroyed, and he brought their possessions into Akkad. The soil from the trenches of Babylon he removed, and the boundaries of Akkad he made like those of Babylon. But because of the evil which he had committed, the great lord Marduk was angry, and he destroyed his people by famine. From the rising of the sun unto the setting of the sun they opposed him and gave him no rest.[57]

A. Leo Oppenheim translates the last se

A. Leo Oppenheim translates the last sentence as "From the East to the West he [i.e. Marduk] alienated (them) from him and inflicted upon (him as punishment) that he could not rest (in his grave)."[58]

Shortly after securing Sumer, Sargon embarked on a series of campaigns to subjugate the entire Fertile Crescent. According to the Chronicle of Early Kings, a later Babylonian historiographical text:

[Sargon] had neither rival nor equal. His splendor, over the lands it diffused. He crossed the sea in the east. In the eleventh year he conquered the western land to its farthest point. He brought it under one authority. He set up his statues there and ferried the west's booty across on barges. He stationed his court officials at intervals of five double hours and ruled in unity the tribes of the lands. He marched to Kazallu and turned Kazallu into a ruin heap, so that there was not even a perch for a bird left.[29]

In the east, Sargon defeated four leaders of Elam, led by the king of Awan. Their cities were sacked; the governors, viceroys, and kings of Susa, Waraḫše, and neighboring districts became vassals of Akkad.[60]

Origin legends

Sumerian legend

The Sumerian-language Sargon legend contains a legendary account of Sargon's rise to power. It is an older version of the previously-known Assyrian legend, discovered in 1974 in Nippur and first edited in 1983.Kazallu and turned Kazallu into a ruin heap, so that there was not even a perch for a bird left.[29]

In the east, Sargon defeated four leaders of Elam, led by the k

In the east, Sargon defeated four leaders of Elam, led by the king of Awan. Their cities were sacked; the governors, viceroys, and kings of Susa, Waraḫše, and neighboring districts became vassals of Akkad.[60]

The Sumerian-language Sargon legend contains a legendary account of Sargon's rise to power. It is an older version of the previously-known Assyrian legend, discovered in 1974 in Nippur and first edited in 1983.[61]

The extant versions are incomplete, but the surviving fragments name Sargon's father as

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 cup-bearer. 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.[62] The legend breaks off at this point; presumably, the missing sections described how Sargon becomes king.[63]

The part of the interpretation of the king's dream has parallels to the biblical story of Joseph, the part about the letter with the carrier's death sentence has similarities to the Greek story of Bellerophon and the biblical story of Uriah.[64]

Birth legend

A Neo-Assyrian text from the 7th century BC purporting to be Sargon's autobiography asserts that the great king was the illegitimate son of a priestess. Only the beginning of the text (the first two columns) is known, from the fragments of three manuscripts. The first fragments were discovered as early as 1850.[65] Sargon's birth and his early childhood are described thus:

My mother was a high priestess, my father I knew not. The brothers of my father loved the hills. My city is Azupiranu, which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My high priestess mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki, the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and ... years I exercised kingship.

Similarities between the Sargon Birth Legend and other infant birth exposures in ancient literature, including Moses, Karna, and Oedipus, were noted by psychoanalyst Otto Rank in his 1909 book The Myth of the Birth of the Hero.[66] The legend was also studied in detail by Brian Lewis, and compared with many different examples of the infant birth exposure motif found in European and Asian folktales. He discusses a possible archetype form, giving particular attention to the Sargon legend and the account of the birth of Moses.Azupiranu, which is situated on the banks of the Euphrates. My high priestess mother conceived me, in secret she bore me. She set me in a basket of rushes, with bitumen she sealed my lid. She cast me into the river which rose over me. The river bore me up and carried me to Akki, the drawer of water. Akki, the drawer of water, took me as his son and reared me. Akki, the drawer of water, appointed me as his gardener. While I was a gardener, Ishtar granted me her love, and for four and ... years I exercised kingship.

Similarities between the Sargon Birth Legend and other infant birth exposures in ancient literature,

Similarities between the Sargon Birth Legend and other infant birth exposures in ancient literature, including Moses, Karna, and Oedipus, were noted by psychoanalyst Otto Rank in his 1909 book The Myth of the Birth of the Hero.[66] The legend was also studied in detail by Brian Lewis, and compared with many different examples of the infant birth exposure motif found in European and Asian folktales. He discusses a possible archetype form, giving particular attention to the Sargon legend and the account of the birth of Moses.[8] Joseph Campbell has also made such comparisons.[67]

Sargon is a

Sargon is also one of the many suggestions for the identity or inspiration for the biblical Nimrod. Ewing William (1910) suggested Sargon based on his unification of the Babylonians and the Neo-Assyrian birth legend.[68] Yigal Levin (2002) suggested that Nimrod was a recollection of Sargon and his grandson Naram-Sin, with the name "Nimrod" derived from the latter.[69]

The name of Sargon's main wife, Queen Tashlultum,[70] and those of a number of his children are known to us. His daughter Enheduanna was a priestess who composed ritual hymns.[71] Many of her works, including her Exaltation of Inanna, were in use for centuries thereafter.[72] Sargon was succeeded by his son Rimush; after Rimush's death another son, Manishtushu, became king. Manishtushu would be succeeded by his own son, Naram-Sin. Two other sons, Shu-Enlil (Ibarum) and Ilaba'is-takal (Abaish-Takal), are known.[73]

Legacy

Sargon of Akkad is sometimes identified as the first person in recorded history to rule over an empire (in the sense of the central government of a multi-ethnic territory),[75][76][77] although earlier Sumerian rulers such as Lugal-zage-si might have a similar claim.[78] His rule also heralds the history of Semitic empires in the Ancient Near East, which, following the Neo-Sumerian interruption (21st/20th centuries BC), lasted for close to fifteen centuries until the Achaemenid conquest following the 539 BC Battle of Opis.[79]

Sargon was regarded as a model by Mesopotamian kings for some two millennia after his death. The Assyrian and Babylonian kings who based their empires in Mesopotamia saw themselves as the heirs of Sargon's empire. Sargon may indeed have introduced the notion of "empire" as understood in the later Assyrian period; the Neo-Assyrian Sargon Text, written in the first person, has Sargon challenging later rulers to "govern the black-headed people" (i.e. the indigenous population of Mesopotamia) as he did.[80] An important source for "Sargonic heroes" in oral tradition in the later Bronze Age is a Middle Hittite (15th century BC) record of a Hurro-Hittite song, which calls upon Sargon and his immediate successors as "deified kings" (dšarrena).[81]

Sargon shared his name with

Sargon was regarded as a model by Mesopotamian kings for some two millennia after his death. The Assyrian and Babylonian kings who based their empires in Mesopotamia saw themselves as the heirs of Sargon's empire. Sargon may indeed have introduced the notion of "empire" as understood in the later Assyrian period; the Neo-Assyrian Sargon Text, written in the first person, has Sargon challenging later rulers to "govern the black-headed people" (i.e. the indigenous population of Mesopotamia) as he did.[80] An important source for "Sargonic heroes" in oral tradition in the later Bronze Age is a Middle Hittite (15th century BC) record of a Hurro-Hittite song, which calls upon Sargon and his immediate successors as "deified kings" (dšarrena).[81]

Sargon shared his name with two later Mesopotamian kings. Sargon I was a king of the Old Assyrian period presumably named after Sargon of Akkad. Sargon II was a Neo-Assyrian king named after Sargon of Akkad; it is this king whose name was rendered Sargon (סַרְגוֹן) in the Hebrew Bible (Isaiah 20:1).

Neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus showed great interest in the history of the Sargonid dynasty and even conducted excavations of Sargon's palaces and those of his successors.[82]

Although historically inaccurate and supernatural in nature, The Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior (2008) features Sargon of Akkad as a murderous army commander who uses black magic. He was the film's main villain and was portrayed by American actor and mixed martial artist Randy Couture.[83] This is one of the few films, if not the only one, to depict Sargon.

The twentieth episode of the second season of Star Trek the original series, Return to Tomorrow, features an ancient, telepathic alien named Sargon who once ruled a mighty empire.

The so-called "Mask of Sargon", after restoration, in 1936.

The twentieth episode of the second season of Star Trek the original series, Return to Tomorrow, features an ancient, telepathic alien named Sargon who once ruled a mighty empire.


Regnal titles
Preceded by
Ur-Zababa
King of Kish
? – 2284 BC (middle)
Succeeded by
Rimush
Preceded by
Lugal-Zage-Si
King of Uruk, Lagash, and Umma
ca. 2340–2284 BC (middle)
New title King of Akkad
ca. 2340–2284 BC (middle)
Preceded by
Luh-ishan of Awan
Overlord of Elam
ca. 2340–2284 BC (middle)