Akkad (ăˈkăd, äˈkäd) [key], ancient region of Mesopotamia, occupying the northern part of later Babylonia. The southern part was Sumer. In both regions city-states had begun to appear in the 4th millennium B.C. In Akkad a Semitic language, Akkadian, was spoken. Akkad flourished after Sargon began (c.2340 B.C.) to spread wide his conquests, which ranged from his capital, Agade, also known as Akkad, to the Mediterranean shores. He united city-states into a vast organized empire. Furthermore, he was overlord of all the petty states of Sumer and Akkad, as were his successors, most notably Naramsin. The merit of Sargonic art can be seen in the stele of Naramsin. The naturalistic sculpture, depicting a wide range of mythological scenes, reflected a high achievement in glyptic art. After more than a century the empire declined and was overrun by mountain tribes. When the Akkadian empire had fallen, Mesopotamia was in chaos. Peace was maintained only in the south in the city-state of Lagash under Gudea. Lagash was later absorbed by the 3d dynasty of Ur, which governed both Akkad and Sumer. Toward the end of the 3d millennium Elam took over most of the power as a new wave of Semitic-speaking peoples entered Mesopotamia. It was by defeating the Elamites that Hammurabi was able to create Babylonia. The name Akkad also appears as Accad.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.
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