From the late 1800s until the 1920s, archaeology was all the rage. Many European expeditions in the Middle East searched for everything from Egyptian mummies to the origins of the Hebrew Bible. Amongst the many archaeological finds during this time, one of the most significant was the discovery of the remains of the ancient city of Ur, just outside current day Baghdad.
Ur was one of the most important cities of Ancient Sumeria. It was mentioned in the Bible and was incredibly wealthy, with a population of about 65,000 and culture exposed to prosperity and trade with other parts of the world.
Further north came the Akkadians. They had co-existed with the Sumerians and shared many socio-cultural practices and beliefs. And when the Sumerian empire fell, mainly due to the disparity between the rich and the poor, the Akkadians swooped in and became the first true world empire in history.
Sargon was the first Akkadian King and is considered history's first great world emperor. The impact of Sargon and the Akkadian empire was so strong that it was revered by every state to arise in the region for the next two millennia.
He was the first ruler credited to have a standing army where he proceeded to annex all the other cities along the Tigris-Euphrates river valley. He quickly established himself as the one true and undisputed leader of the Akad and Sumer people, instituting many reforms and improvements within the societies he ruled. He made Akkadian the official language of the empire, and he also founded the city of Akkad, his famed seat of power that has since been lost in time.
The Akkadian influence was felt in 1931 when the biblical city of Nineveh, the capital of the Assyrian empire, was uncovered by archaeologists. They were shocked to find that it had been originally an Akkadian city, built 1500 years before the Assyrians.
Sargon ruled with a seeming iron fist, boasting about how many people his forces had killed, inspiring both fear and awe. This is the first time that a ruler used political propaganda, and every other leader would use this tactic throughout history until today.
He widely promoted trade, reaching (and conquering) present-day Oman and Bahrain, keeping his people in relative economic comfort.
Despite all his fame, power and extraordinary achievements, not much is known about his early life. All the texts and inscriptions that mentioned him were written almost 2,000 years after he died.
Sargon ruled for 56 years and was replaced by two of his sons in quick succession. But it was his grandson, Naram-Sin, where the Akkadian empire grew even more than what Sargon achieved. Sadly, when Naram's son took over, the empire was weakened severely due to climate change, famine and invading enemies. The great city of Akkad fell into enemy hands, and the Akkadian Empire was no more.
Directed by: Pete Kelly