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] In 544 BC the "governor of the city of Akkad and a scribe delivered 100 sheep to the Ebabbara Temple in Sippar".[6]

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. It was suggested, in 1935, that a mention of Agade in one pre-Sargonic year-name "may prove to be Presargon".[7]

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.[8]

The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar (Inanna), who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or "Warlike Ishtar".[9] It has also been suggested that a different aspect, Istar-Ulmašītum, was the patron goddess of the city of Akkad.[10] 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]

Sargon (2334–2279 BC), the first ruler of the Akkadian Empire referred to ships, from Meluhha, Magan and Dilmun, docked at the quay of Agade in a text.[11][12]

Harris (1977) reports that list of slaves from the Old Babylonian city of Sippar mention "The city of Akkad is the birthplace of either the slave-owner or of the slave-girls who are named Taram-Agade and Taram-Akkadi". The former is the name of a daughter of Akkadian ruler Naram-Sin several centuries beforehand.[13]

Lewy (1959) outlined that the Amorite king Shamshi-Adad (1808–1776 BC) went to the cities of "Rapiqum and Akkad" as part of one of his military campaigns, in this case against Eshnunna.[14]

The prologue of the Laws of Hammurabi (circa 1750 BC) includes the phrase "‘the one who installs Ištar in the temple Eulmaš inside Akkade ribıtu".[15]

The Kassite ruler Kurigalzu I (circa 1375 BC) reported refurbishing the city of Agade.[16]

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.[17][18]

A year name of En-šakušuana, king of Uruk (c. 2350 BC) 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.[19]


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

Many older proposals put Akkad on the Euphrates, but more recent discussions conclude that a location on the Tigris is more likely.[20]

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.[21]

Harvey Weiss (1975) proposed Ishan Mizyad (Tell Mizyad), a large (1000 meters by 600 meters) low site 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) northwest from Kish and northeast of Babylon.[22] 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.[23][5][24][25][26] Until Neo-Babylonian times a canal ran from Kish to Mizyad.[27]

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 (Tell Mohammad, possibly Diniktum) 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.[28] Excavations found remains dating to the Isin-Larsa, Old Babylonian, and Kassite periods.[29]

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.[30] This had been suggested much earlier by Lane.[31]

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.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34] It has also been suggested that Akkad was under the control of Eshnunna in that period.[35] It is also known that the rulers of Eshnunna continued cult activities in the city of Akkad.[36]

Khalid al-Admi proposed, based on a kudurru dating to the time of Kassite ruler Marduk-nadin-ahhe (1095–1078 BC), with an earlier one dated to the reign of Nebuchadnezzar I (1121–1100 BC), 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).[37]

On the Kassite Land grant to Marduk-apla-iddina I by Meli-Shipak II (1186–1172 BC) 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.[38]

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. ^ Dandamayev, M. A.. "Neo-Babylonian and Achaemenid State Administration in Mesopotamia". Judah and the Judeans in the Persian Period, edited by Oded Lipschits and Manfred Oeming, University Park, USA: Penn State University Press, 2021, pp. 373-398
  7. ^ Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 205–206
  8. ^ van de Mieroop 2007, pp. 68–69
  9. ^ Meador 2001, p. 8
  10. ^ Sharlach, T. M.. "Chapter 11. Belet-šuhnir and Belet-terraban and Religious Activities of the Queen and the Concubine(s)". An Ox of One's Own: Royal Wives and Religion at the Court of the Third Dynasty of Ur, Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter, 2017, pp. 261-286
  11. ^ W. Heimpel, "Das Untere Meer", ZA 77 (1987) texts 13 and 20.
  12. ^ Cuneiform Inscription Of Defeat Of Oman & Indus Valley - MS-2814 Schoyen Collection
  13. ^ Harris, Rivkah. “Notes on the Slave Names of Old Babylonian Sippar.” Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 29, no. 1, 1977, pp. 46–51
  14. ^ Lewy, Hildegard. "The Synchronism Assyria—Ešnunna—Babylon", Die Welt Des Orients, vol. 2, no. 5/6, 1959, pp. 438–53
  15. ^ Steinert, Ulrike. "Akkadian Terms for Streets and the Topography of Mesopotamian Cities", Altorientalische Forschungen, vol. 38, no. 2, 2011, pp. 309-347
  16. ^ Clayden, T., "Kurigalzu I and the restoration of Babylonia", Iraq 58, pp. 109–121, 1996
  17. ^ Eppihimer, Melissa. “Assembling King and State: The Statues of Manishtushu and the Consolidation of Akkadian Kingship.” American Journal of Archaeology, vol. 114, no. 3, 2010, pp. 365–80
  18. ^ Winter, Irene J.. "How Tall Was Naram-Sîn’s Victory Stele? Speculation on the Broken Bottom". 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, 2021, pp. 301-312
  19. ^ POMPONIO, Francesco. “FURTHER CONSIDERATIONS ON KIŠKI IN THE EBLA TEXTS.” Revue d’Assyriologie et d’archéologie Orientale, vol. 107, pp. 71–83, 2013
  20. ^ Wall-Romana 1990, p. 209
  21. ^ Unger 1928, p. 62
  22. ^ Weiss 1975, p. 451
  23. ^ "Excavations in Iraq, 1979-80." Iraq, vol. 43, no. 2, 1981, pp. 167–98
  24. ^ Mahmoud, N. Ahmed, "The Ur III tablets from Ishan Mizyad", Acta Sumerologica, vol. 11, pp. 330-352, 1989
  25. ^ "Excavations in Iraq, 1981-82." Iraq, vol. 45, no. 2, 1983, pp. 199–224
  26. ^ al-Mutawali, Nawala A. "Nawälah Ahmad Mahmüd al-Mutawalll." Clay Tablets from Tell Mizyad: Sumer 41 (1985): 135-136 (arabic)
  27. ^ Buccellati, Marilyn K. “Orientalists Meet at Berkeley.” Archaeology, vol. 21, no. 4, 1968, pp. 303–04
  28. ^ Wall-Romana 1990, pp. 243–244
  29. ^ Gentili, Paolo. "Wandering Through Time: The Chronology Of Tell Mohammed." Studi Classici e Orientali, vol. 57, 2011, pp. 39–55
  30. ^ Reade 2002, p. 269
  31. ^ [1] Lane, W. H., Babylonian Problems, John Murray, London, 1923
  32. ^ [2] McGuire Gibson, The city and area of Kish, Field Research Projects, 1972
  33. ^ [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
  34. ^ 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
  35. ^ 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
  36. ^ 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)
  37. ^ Khalid al-Admi, "A New Kudurru of Maroduk-Nadin-Ahhe IM. 90585", Sumer, vol. 38, no. 1-2, pp. 121-133,1982
  38. ^ 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