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Sargon, also known as Sargon the Great, was an ancient Mesopotamian prince (reigned c. 2334–2279 BCE) who conquered all of southern Mesopotamia and parts of Syria, Anatolia, and Elam (western Iran).
See the fact file below for more information on Sargon the Great or alternatively, you can download our 30-page Sargon the Great worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Sargon was an ancient Mesopotamian prince (reigned c. 2334–2279 BCE). He is one of Assyria’s great kings during the last century of its history. He extended and consolidated the conquests of his presumed father, Tiglath-pileser III.
- He is also renowned as the father of the great poet-priestess Enheduanna ( 2285-2250 BCE), the world’s first known author.
- Sargon, which means “True King” or “Legitimate King,” was the illegitimate son of a “changeling,” which could refer to a temple priestess of the goddess Innana (whose clergy were androgynous), and never knew his father, according to the Sargon Legend (a cuneiform clay tablet was purporting to be his).
- Sargon was a self-made man from poor beginnings. A gardener discovered him as a newborn floating in a basket on the river and raised him in his profession. His father is unknown, as is his birth name, while his mother was a priestess in a town on the middle Euphrates.
- Because the capital city of Agade (Akkad), which he erected, has never been discovered and excavated, there is no contemporary record. It was destroyed during the end of Sargon’s rule and never inhabited again, at least under the name of Agade.
- ‘Sargon’ was not the name given him at birth but the throne name he chose for himself. It is a Semitic, not Sumerian, so it is generally accepted that he was a Semite.
- Rimush and Manishtushu, two of Sargon’s sons, solidified the dynasty’s control over much of Mesopotamia.
- Naram-Sin (r. 2260–2223 B.C.) led the Akkadian empire to its pinnacle.
- Sargon dispatched Akkadian rulers to rule Sumerian cities and demolish fortifications. He preserved Sumerian religion while making Akkadian the official language of Mesopotamia.
- He promoted trade within Mesopotamia and beyond by breaking down physical and linguistic barriers and uniting his realm.
- King Sargon ruled for more than half a century and established a dynasty that lasted until his grandson, Naram-Sin, took over. Sargon’s legacy lasted far longer since a succession of successive rulers followed in his footsteps.
- Sargon of Akkad, who attributed his triumph to the goddess Ishtar, in whose honor Agade was built, was the first significant empire builder. His name was later given to two Assyrian rulers.
- Later, Mesopotamians regarded Sargon as the creator of the Mesopotamian military tradition that lasted throughout their history.
- Sargon fought Lugal-zage-si in combat at Kish and took Uruk, an ancient region on the Euphrates River in southern Mesopotamia.
- Sargon had taken control of a new region from which he could start military campaigns and expand his dominion.
- Sargon, on the other hand, wanted to keep his territory under his authority, so he constructed an efficient bureaucracy by appointing trusted officials to administer in his name in each Sumerian city.
- Sargon is also remembered for establishing a society that safeguarded the weak. According to legend, no one in Sumer had to beg for food during his rule, and widows and orphans were safeguarded. Sargon the Great wasn’t viewed as a hero who rose from modest beginnings to save his people.
- During Sargon’s reign, Akkadians were converted to the Sumerian alphabet. The new spirit of calligraphy apparent on this dynasty’s clay tablets is also visible on contemporary cylinder seals, with their wonderfully ordered and rendered scenes of mythology and festival life. Even if this new aesthetic feeling cannot be directly traced to Sargon’s influence, it demonstrates that military and economic ideals were not the only ones that mattered in his new city.
- He inherited the legacy of the Sumerian city-states as a result of his military prowess and ability to organize by conquest and of previously existing trade of the old Sumerian city-states.
AFTER THE DEATH
- Sargon was killed in a battle in Tabal, Anatolia, in 705 BCE. The Assyrian camp was overrun by the enemy army, and the king’s body was never located. As a result, he was not properly buried in his palace at Khorsabad, which Mesopotamia regarded a curse.
- The king’s death came as a shock, one year after the completion of the massive Khorsabad construction project and the opening of his “unrivaled palace,” which he believed he would live in for many years, as suggested by a foundation tablet:
“The gods who inhabit in heaven, on earth, and in this city rejoiced at my decree, ensuring me the luxury of building and growing old in this city forever.”
- There’s no evidence that he was exceptionally severe, or that the Sumerians despised him because he was a Semite.The empire did not completely collapse because Sargon’s heirs were able to maintain control over their legacy, and later generations regarded him as arguably the greatest name in their history.
- Despite being one of antiquity’s most famous names, he was unknown to the contemporary world until 1870, when archaeologist Sir Henry Rawlinson published the Legend of Sargon, which he discovered in Ashurbanipal’s library while excavating Nineveh in 1867.
- After Sargon’s death, the empire was passed down to his son Rimush, who was obliged to undergo everything his father had gone through and put down rebellions that questioned his legitimacy. Rimush ruled for nine years before passing the throne to Sargon’s second son, Manishtushu, who reigned for another fifteen years.
- Despite the fact that both sons reigned well, the Akkadian Empire reached its pinnacle under Sargon’s grandson, Naram-Sin. During his reign, the empire expanded and flourished much beyond what Sargon had achieved. After his death, his son Shar-Kali-Sharri took over as emperor, and the empire began to fall apart as city-states split off to form their own kingdoms.
- Around 2330 BCE., he used that perceived legitimacy to construct the world’s first empire. The fertile area between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in Mesopotamia. He and his successors left the globe with a concept of power that went beyond military might.
- The Legend of Sargon, written in cuneiform on a clay tablet, was said to be his biography, yet it’s more commonly referred to as folklore. Part of it says:
“My mother was a changeling, and I had no idea who my father was…My mother conceived me in secret, giving birth to me in secrecy. She placed me in a basket of rushes, sealed the lid with tar, and cast me into the river…The water carried me to Akki, the water drawer. He lifted me out as he dipped his jar into the river, He raised me, and he made me his gardener.”
- The period after that (ca. 2350–2150 BCE.) is named after Agade (or Akkad), whose Semitic monarchs consolidated the region by conquest, bringing rival Sumerian cities under their control. The town of Agade has yet to be discovered, but it was most likely founded before the dynasty’s first monarch, Sargon (r. ca. 2340–2285 BCE.).
Sargon the Great Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle that includes everything you need to know about Sargon the Great across 30 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use worksheets that are perfect for teaching about Sargon the Great who was an ancient Mesopotamian prince who conquered all of southern Mesopotamia and parts of Syria, Anatolia, and Elam.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Sargon the Great Facts
- Top Three
- Tug of Kings
- 4 Pics 1 Word
- Fact or Bluff
- History Vs. Present
- A Journey to Sargon
- The Greatest King
- Fill Me In
- Ready for the Battle
- A Letter to My Leader
Frequently Asked Questions
What was Sargon the Great Famous for?
Mesopotamians regarded Sargon as the creator of the Mesopotamian military tradition that lasted throughout their history.
How did Sargon the Great die?
Sargon was killed in a battle in Tabal, Anatolia, in 705 BCE. The Assyrian camp was overrun by the enemy army, and the king’s body was never located. As a result, he was not properly buried in his palace at Khorsabad, which Mesopotamia regarded as a curse.
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