Cradle of Civilization

A Blog about the Birth of Our Civilisation and Development

Sargon and Akkad

Posted by Fredsvenn on February 27, 2015

Akkad

Akkad

Akkad (also spelled Akkade or Agade), meaning “Crown of Fire” in allusion to Ishtar, “the brilliant goddess”, whose cult was observed from very early times in 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 etymology and meaning of Akkad (written a.ga.dèKI or URIKI) are unknown. The form Agade appears in Sumerian, for example in the Sumerian King List; the later Assyro-Babylonian form Akkadû (“of or belonging to Akkad”) was likely derived from this. 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.

Centuries later, the neo-Babylonian king Nabonidus mentioned in his archaeological records that Ishtar’s worship in Agade was later superseded by that of the goddess Anunit, whose shrine was at Sippar—suggesting proximity of Sippar and Agade. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Sippar in the Old Babylonian period, possibly because Akkad itself had been destroyed by that time.

Ishtar (Transliteration: DIŠTAR; Akkadian: INANNA), who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or ‘Warlike Ishtar’ and who was identified with the Sumerian goddess Inanna, is the East Semitic Akkadian, Assyrian and Babylonian goddess of fertility, love, war, and sex. She is the counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna, and is the cognate for the Northwest Semitic Aramean goddess Astarte.

Like Ishtar, the Greek Aphrodite and the Aramean Northwestern Semitic Astarte were love goddesses. Donald A. Mackenzie, an early popularizer of mythology, draws a parallel between the love goddess Aphrodite and her “dying god” lover Adonis on one hand, and the love goddess Ishtar and her “dying god” lover Tammuz on the other.

Joseph Campbell, a more recent scholar of comparative mythology, equates Ishtar, Inanna, and Aphrodite, and he draws a parallel between the Egyptian goddess Isis who nurses Horus, and the Assyrian-Babylonian goddess Ishtar who nurses the god Tammuz.

The first known mention of the city-state of Akkad is in an inscription of Enshakushanna of Uruk, where he claims to have defeated Agade—indicating that it was in existence well before the days of Sargon of Akkad, whom the Sumerian King List claims to have built it.

The precise archaeological site of the city-state of Akkad has not yet been found. Despite numerous searches, the city has never been found. One theory holds that Agade was situated opposite Sippar on the left bank of the Euphrates, and was perhaps the oldest part of the city of Sippar.

Another theory is that the ruins of Akkad are to be found beneath modern Baghdad. Reputedly it was destroyed by invading Gutians with the fall of the Akkadian Empire.

Sargon of Akkad

Sargon of Akkad, also known as Sargon the Great “the Great King” (Akkadian Šarru-kīnu, meaning “the true king” or “the king is legitimate”), was a Semitic Akkadian emperor famous for his conquest of the Sumerian city-states in the 24th and 23rd centuries BC.

The founder of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon reigned during the penultimate quarter of the third millennium BC. Cuneiform sources agree that he was cup-bearer (official in charge of wine) of king Ur-Zababa of Kish, and some later historians have speculated that he killed the king and usurped his throne before embarking on the quest to conquer Mesopotamia.

The king Sargon has often been cited as the first ruler of a combined empire of Akkad and Sumer, although more recently discovered data suggests there had been Sumerian expansions under previous kings, including Lugal-Anne-Mundu of Adab, Eannatum of Lagash, and Lugal-Zage-Si.

King Sargon of Agade (c. 2550 B.C.) was born of a lowly mother in Azupira-nu. His father was unknown. He like Moses was set adrift by his mother in a basket of bulrushes on the waters of the Euphrates, he was discovered by Akki the husbandman (the irrigator), whom he brought up to serve as gardener in the palace of Kish.

The goddess Ishtar favored the youth, and he was promoted to the post of cup-bearer. Thus aspiring the throne he became, at last, king and emperor, renowned as the living god. Sargon of Agade (his new capital) was the destroyer of the ancient cities of the Sumerians, from whom his own people had derived their civilization.

Similarities between the Neo-Assyrian Sargon Birth Legend and other infant birth exposures in ancient literature, including Moses, Karna, and Oedipus, were noted by Otto Rank in 1909.

Theta Scorpii (θ Sco, θ Scorpii) is a star in the southern zodiac constellation of Scorpius. It has the traditional name Sargas, of Sumerian origin. In Greek Mythology the myths associated with Scorpio almost invariably also contain a reference to Orion.

According to one of these myths it is written that Orion boasted to goddess Artemis and her mother, Leto, that he would kill every animal on the earth. Although Artemis was known to be a hunter herself she offered protection to all creatures. Artemis and her mother Leto sent a scorpion to deal with Orion. The pair battled and the scorpion killed Orion.

However, the contest was apparently a lively one that caught the attention of the king of the gods Zeus, who later raised the scorpion to heaven and afterwards, at the request of Artemis, did the same for Orion to serve as a reminder for mortals to curb their excessive pride.

There is also a version that Orion was better than the goddess Artemis but said that Artemis was better than he and so Artemis took a liking to Orion. The god Apollo, Artemis’s twin brother, grew angry and sent a scorpion to attack Orion. After Orion was killed, Artemis asked Zeus to put Orion up in the sky. So every winter Orion hunts in the sky, but every summer he flees as the constellation of the scorpion comes.

The legend was also studied in detail by Brian Lewis, and compared with a number of different examples of the infant birth exposure motif found in European and Asian folk tales. He discusses a possible archetype form, giving particular attention to the Sargon legend and the account of the birth of Moses.

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