Akkadian Texts

Akkadian Texts and Tablets

The Akkadian Empire

2300 - 2200 b.c.e

The beginning of his Nimrod's kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.  - Genesis 10.10-12

After the enduring civilization of Sumer, the Akkadian Empire was the first ancient empire of Mesopotamia. The city of Akkad and the area around it served as its focal points. Akkadian and Sumerian speakers were brought under one control by the empire. As far south as Dilmun and Magan (modern-day Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman), in the Arabian Peninsula, the Akkadian Empire exercised influence over Mesopotamia, the Levant, and Anatolia.

Following Sargon of Akkad's conquests, the Akkadian Empire reached its political zenith between the 24th and 22nd centuries BC. The Akkadian language was briefly enforced on nearby conquered states like Elam and Gutium under Sargon and his successors. Although Akkad is occasionally recognized as the first empire in history

Sargon the Akkad Text

The Legend of Akkad is a Mesopotamian text written in cuneiform and found in the ruins of the library of Ashurbanipal in the 19th century. It dates back to 7th century b.c.e and is understood to be the autobiography of Sargon the Akkad or Sargon the Great that lived 2334 - 2279 b.c.e. 

The Legend of Sargon Translation

Segment A

1-9To ...... the sanctuary like a cargo-ship; to...... its great furnaces; to see that its canals ...... waters of joy, to see that the hoes till the arable tracts and that ...... the fields; to turn the house of Kic, which was like a haunted town, into a living settlement again -- its king, shepherd Ur-Zababa, rose like Utu over the house of Kic. An and Enlil, however, authoritatively (?) decided (?) by their holy command to alter his term of reigning and to remove the prosperity of the palace.

10-13Then Sargon -- his city was the city of ......, his father was La'ibum, his mother ......., Sargon ...... with happy heart. Since he was born .......

unknown number of lines missing

Segment B

1-7One day, after the evening had arrived and Sargon had brought the regular deliveries to the palace, Ur-Zababa was sleeping (and dreaming) in the holy bed-chamber, his holy residence. He realized what the dream was about, but did not put into words, did not discuss it with anyone. After Sargon had received the regular deliveries for the palace, Ur-Zababa appointed him cupbearer, putting him in charge of the drinks cupboard. Holy Inana did not cease to stand by him.

8-11After five or ten days had passed, king Ur-Zababa ...... and became frightened in his residence. Like a lion he urinated, sprinkling his legs, and the urine contained blood and pus. He was troubled, he was afraid like a fish floundering in brackish water.

12-24It was then that the cupbearer of Ezina's wine-house, Sargon, lay down not to sleep, but lay down to dream. In the dream, holy Inana drowned Ur-Zababa in a river of blood. The sleeping Sargon groaned and gnawed the ground. When king Ur-Zababa heard about this groaning, he was brought into the king's holy presence, Sargon was brought into the presence of Ur-Zababa (who said:) "Cupbearer, was a dream revealed to you in the night?" Sargon answered his king: "My king, this is my dream, which I will tell you about: There was a young woman, who was as high as the heavens and as broad as the earth. She was firmly set as the base of a wall. For me, she drowned you in a great river, a river of blood."

25-34Ur-Zababa chewed his lips, he became seriously afraid. He spoke to ......, his chancellor: "My royal sister, holy Inana, is going to change (?) my finger into a ...... of blood; she will drown Sargon, the cupbearer, in the great river. Belic-tikal, chief smith, man of my choosing, who can write tablets, I will give you orders, let my orders be carried out! Let my advice be followed! Now then, when the cupbearer has delivered my bronze hand-mirror (?) to you, in the E-sikil, the fated house, throw them (the mirror and Sargon) into the mould like statues."

35-45Belic-tikal heeded his king's words and prepared the moulds in the E-sikil, the fated house. The king spoke to Sargon: "Go and deliver my bronze hand-mirrors (?) to the chief smith!" Sargon left the palace of Ur-Zababa. Holy Inana, however, did not cease to stand at his right hand side, and before he had come within five or ten nindan of the E-sikil, the fated house, holy Inana turned around toward him and blocked his way, (saying:) "The E-sikil is a holy house! No one polluted with blood should enter it!" Thus he met the chief smith of the king only at the gate of the fated house. After he delivered the king's bronze hand-mirror(?) to the chief smith, Belic-tikal, the chief smith, ...... and threw it into the mould like statues.

46-52After five or ten days had passed, Sargon came into the presence of Ur-Zababa, his king; he came into the palace, firmly founded like a great mountain. King Ur-Zababa ...... and became frightened in his residence. He realized what was it about, but did not put into words, did not discuss it with anyone. Ur-Zababa became frightened in the bed-chamber, his holy residence. He realized what was it about, but did not put into words, did not discuss it with anyone.

53-56In those days, although writing words on tablets existed, putting tablets into envelopes did not yet exist. King Ur-Zababa dispatched Sargon, the creature of the gods, to Lugal-zage-si in Unug with a message written on clay, which was about murdering Sargon.

unknown number of lines missing

Segment C

1-7With the wife of Lugal-zage-si ....... She (?) ...... her feminity as a shelter. Lugal-zage-si did not ...... the envoy. "Come! He directed his steps to brick-built E-ana!" Lugal-zage-si did not grasp it, he did not talk to the envoy. But as soon as he did talk to the envoy ....... The lord said "Alas!" and sat in the dust.

8-12Lugal-zage-si replied to the envoy: "Envoy, Sargon does not yield."After he has submitted,Sargon ...... Lugal-zage-si ....... Sargon ...... Lugal-zage-si ....... Why ...... Sargon ......?

The Birth Legend of Sargon - Cuneiform Tablet - CT 13 42-43

This tablet is an 8th century account of the birth of Sargon the Great from 2300 b.c.e. It describes the legendary king who was abandon in a wicker basket and floated down a river. 

Similarities with Moses

There is a similarity with Sargon's story and the story of Moses that is pointed out by some. Even though this story is about a king from 2300 b.c.e this text is from the 7th century b.c.e. a long time after the history accounts of Moses where already written and established. The similarities in the accounts most likely point to an ancient practice of people sending their infants, that they cannot care for, down the river essentially putting their fate in the hands of the 'gods.' 



I am Sargon, mighty king, king of Akkad.

My mother was high priestess;

       my father, I did not know;

               my kin live in the highlands.

My city was Azupirani, on the bank of the Euphrates River.

My mother, the high priestess, conceived me; in secret, she bore me.

       She placed me in a basket of bundled reeds and sealed the opening with tar.

               She cast me onto a river from which I could not climb out.  

But the river bore me up, and it carried me to Akki, a water-drawer.

Akki the Water-drawer lifted me out while dipping his bucket;

       Akki the Water-drawer raised me himself as an adopted son;

               Akki the Water-drawer put me in charge of his date cultivation.

During my date cultivation, Ishtar came to love me, and thus I reigned as king for fifty-four (.) years.  In fact, I ruled and supervised all the people of Mesopotamia.

I shattered mighty mountains with pickaxes of bronze;

       I ascended the mountains to the north;

               I traversed the mountains to the south.

Three times, I circled the lands of the sea; Dilmun itself submitted to me.

The remaining portions of the text is fragmentary