Akkadians (2,334-2,154 BCE)

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Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
Bassetki Copper Statue
Akkadian Empire seal with Ishtar
Cylinder seal of Ibni-Sharrum
Akkadian Ruler Head
Akkadian Ruler Statue
Clay tablet, Sharkalisharri
Akkadian Pottery

From the 3rd c BCE, around the city of Akkad, a new empire coalesced under Sargon (The Great) and his successors. The empire united Akkadian (Assyrian and Babylonian) and Sumerian speakers under one rule. It also gained influence over neighbouring areas of Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Anatolia. Further the Akkadian language was forced upon defeated territories like Elam and Gutium. As the Akkadian Empire fell it effectively splintered into two – Assyria in the north and somewhat later Babylonia in the south.


This 2m pink limestone stele is an exmple of the Akkadian imperial art from c2250 BCE. It was to celebrate the triumph of Akkadian King Naram-Sin over the Lullubi, a mountain people. The king’s victory marks he could now claim equal footing with the gods. It was found at Susa, presumably having been looted bu the Elamites in 1200 BCE. It is on display at the Louvre.
Image source: louvre.fr

Image source: Wikimedia commons

This pure copper statue (67cm base) has an inscription in Old Akkadian that indicates it was placed originally in the doorway of a palace of the Akkadian ruler Naram-Sin. This dates it to 2350-2100 BCE.

It was looted from the Iraq Museum in 2003, and recovered, caked in axle-grease, from where it had been hidden in a cesspool. Yet it is still a repected piece for its naturalistic human body, something the Akkadians introduced to its art.
This Akkadian Seal dated 2350-2100 BCE, depicts the goddess Ishtar. She is wearing a horned crown and crushing a lion beneath her feet
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: louvre.fr

This cylinder seal and its impression provides a view of two water buffaloes (aka arni) slaking their thirst from two vases. The vases are held by what the Louvre describes as two naked kneeling heroes.
The water is a symbol of fertility and abundance. The water buffaloes indicate that the Akkadians had contact with the Indus Valley.
In c2217 BCE, Sharkalisharri succeeded his father Naram-Sin, just as Gutian incursions were becoming regular. The central inscription states, ‘Divine Sharkalisharri, the mighty king of Agade, Ibni-Sharrum, the Scribe his servant’.
This bronze head shows an Akkadian leader, often identiifed as Sargon, but probably his grandon Naram-Sin. This is a reproduction from Roemer- und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, because the original was looted from the Iraq museum and as yet not recovered. It is dated as c2300 BCE
Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: Wikimedia commons

This is a statue in diorite of an Akkadian leader, perhaps the ruler of Ashtur where it was found. It is dated c2300 BCE.
A gown is belted at the waist and the figure is unclothed above this with well-defined shoulders and upper arms. Experts suggest this is consistent with the sculptural art created during the reign of Manistushu. It is on show at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.
This clay tablet records domestic animals in the Akkadian language. It is dated to the reign of Sharkalisharri c2100 BCE. It is on show at the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago.
Akkadian gradually replaced Sumerian as the spoken language c2000 BCE. Sumerian continued as the sacred, ceremonial, literary, and scientific language of Mesopotamia to the 1st c CE.

Image source: Wikimedia commons

Image source: courses.lumenlearning.com
This display at the Oriental Institute Museum, University of Chicago illustrates the variety of Akkadian pottery items.

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