1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Akkad

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AKKAD (Gr. versions ἀρχαδ and ἀχαδ), a Hebrew name, mentioned only once in the Old Testament (Gen. x. 10), for one of the four chief cities, Akkad, Babel, Erech and Calneh, which constituted the nucleus of the kingdom of Nimrod in the land of Shinar or Babylonia. This Biblical city, Akkad, was most probably identical with the northern Babylonian city known to us as Agade (not Agane, as formerly read), which was the principal seat of the early Babylonian king Sargon I. (Šargani-Šarāli), whose date is given by Nabonidus, the last Semitic king of Babylonia (555–537 B.C.), as 3800 B.C., which is perhaps too old by 700 or 1000 years.[1] The probably non-Semitic name Agade occurs in a number of inscriptions[2] and is now well attested as having been the name of an important ancient capital. The later Assyro-Babylonian Semitic form Akkadū (“of or belonging to Akkad”) is, in all likelihood, a Semitic loan form from the non-Semitic name Agade, and seems to be an additional demonstration of the identity of Agade and Akkad. The usual signs denoting Akkadū in the Semitic narrative inscriptions were read in the non-Semitic idiom uri-ki or ur-ki, “land of the city,” which simply meant that Akkadū was the land of the city par excellence, i.e. of the city of Agade of Sargon I., which remained for a long period the leading city of Babylonia.[3]

It is quite probable that the non-Semitic name Agade may mean “crown (aga) of fire (de)”[4] in allusion to Ištar, “the brilliant goddess,” the tutelar deity of the morning and evening star and the goddess of war and love, whose cult was observed in very early times in Agade. This fact is again attested by Nabonidus, whose record[5] mentions that the Ištar worship of Agade was later superseded by that of the goddess Anunit, another personification of the Ištar idea, whose shrine was at Sippar. It is significant in this connexion that there were two cities named Sippar, one under the protection of Shamash, the sun-god, and one under this Anunit, a fact which points strongly to the probable proximity of Sippar and Agade. In fact, it has been thought that Agade-Akkad was situated opposite Sippar on the left bank of the Euphrates, and was probably the oldest part of the city of Sippar.

In the Assyro-Babylonian literature the name Akkadū appears as part of the royal title in connexion with Sumer; viz. non-Semitic: lugal Kēngi (ki) Uru (ki) = šar mât Šumeri u Akkadī, “king of Sumer and Akkad,” which appears to have meant simply “king of Babylonia.” It is not likely, as many scholars have thought, that Akkad was ever used geographically as a distinctive appellation for northern Babylonia, or that the name Sumer (q.v.) denoted the southern part of the land, because kings who ruled only over Southern Babylonia used the double title “king of Sumer and Akkad,” which was also employed by northern rulers who never established their sway farther south than Nippur, notably the great Assyrian conqueror Tiglath-pileser III. (745–727 B.C.). Professor McCurdy has very reasonably suggested[6] that the title “king of Sumer and Akkad” indicated merely a claim to the ancient territory and city of Akkad together with certain additional territory, but not necessarily all Babylonia, as was formerly believed.

A discussion of the interesting question relating to the non-Semitic so-called Sumero-Akkadian language and race will be found in the article Sumer.

Literature.—Schrader, Zur Frage n. d. Ursprung d. altbab. Kultur (1883); Keilinschriften und Geschichtsforschung, pp. 533 f.; Fried. Delitzsch, Wo lag das Paradies? (1881), p. 198; Paul Haupt, Akkadische und Sumerische Keilschrifttexte (1881), pp. 133 ff.; Die Sumerische Akkadische Sprache, Verh. 5-ten Orient. Cong. ii. pp. 249-287; Die sumerischen Familiengesetze (1879); Zimmern, Babylonische Busspsalmen (1885), pp. 71 f.; Hommel, Gesch. Bab. Assyr. (1885), pp. 240 ff.; Tiele, Bab. Assyr. Gesch. (1888), p. 68; W. H. Ward, Hebraica (1886), pp. 79-86; McCurdy, Presb. and Ref. Review, Jan. 1891, pp. 58-81; History, Prophecy and the Monuments (1894), §§ 79-85, 94-110; Hugo Winckler, Untersuchungen zur altorientalischen Geschichte (1886), pp. 65 ff. In Rabbinical literature, Louis Ginzberg, in Monatschrift, xliii. 486; and Jewish Encyclopaedia, i. p. 149. (J. D. Pr.) 

  1. Prince, Nabonidus, p. v.
  2. In the Sargon inscriptions; Bab. Exped. of the Univ. of Penn. i. pl. 1, nr. 1 line 6; pl. 2, nr. 2 line 5; pl. 3 nr. 3, line 3b; also xi. pl. 49, nr. 119 and in Nebuchadnezzar, col. ii. line 50 (Hilprecht, Freibrief Neb.); Cun. Texts from Bab. Tablets, pl. 1, nr. 91146, line 3.
  3. Rogers, History of Babylonia and Assyria, i. pp. 365, 373-374.
  4. Prince, “Materials for a Sumerian Lexicon,” pp. 23, 73, Journal of Biblical Literature, 1906.
  5. I. Rawl. 69, col. ii. 48 and iii. 28.
  6. History, Prophecy and the Monuments, i. § 110.