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Updated on December 23, 2009

Akkadians were an ancient Semitic people who conquered the non-Semitic Sumerians of Mesopotamia (now in Iraq) and built one of the first empires of Western history. They migrated into northern Mesopotamia from the Arabian Peninsula about 4000 B.C. and later established their capital at Agade, or Akkad, on the Euphrates River. The Akkadians eventually absorbed the more advanced culture of the Sumerians, who lived in the southern part of Mesopotamia. They adapted the cuneiform writing of the Sumerians to the Akkadian language, which became dominant in the area and was the parent tongue of both Babylonian and Assyrian.

The Sumero-Akkadians were excellent farmers and soldiers and traded with people from the Indus to the Halys rivers. Under the great Akkadian Sargon (about 2350 B.C.), they extended their power from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea. Their empire was further strengthened by Sargon's grandson Naram-Sin.

The Akkadian Empire fell about 2200 B.C. because of an invasion of the Guti, barbarians from the east. Sumero-Akkadian cities remained dominant in the area, however, and their culture later became the foundation of the Babylonian way of life.


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