Akkadian Empire Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Elizabeth Diehl

Elizabeth studied to be a special education teacher at Regis University, and received her masters in 2014.

Have you ever wondered where the idea of an empire came from? Let's learn about the very first empire and some of the new ideas they had that shaped history.

What was the Akkadian Empire?

The Akkadian Empire was the first empire in history, and it existed from about 2350 to 2000 BCE. The empire rose quickly and grew to control most of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is a term that describes the land between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, which is in present day Iraq.

The empire was named after the ancient city Akkad, which was the capitol. The events that happened in Akkadian history happened so long ago that there are a lot of details missing. What we do know is that the Akkadian Empire brought a lot of new ideas to the ancient people of Mesopotamia.

The First Empire

Before the Akkadian Empire, people in Mesopotamia lived in city-states. Each city acted like its own mini country. Sometimes the city-states would help each other, and sometimes they would fight each other. Then a man named Sargon had an idea. He battled and took control of other city-states, and told them that now he was their king. As king he would protect them, but they had to honor him as the official leader of their city-state.

King Sargon created the first empire
Sargon of Akkad

After Sargon died, his descendants each ruled the Akkadian empire. The Akkadian empire lasted for about 142 years. After this, other groups of people would take over. and Mesopotamia would have new empires.

The Akkadian Language

The Akkadian language is not spoken anymore, but it was very important to the ancient people in Mesopotamia. Before the Akkadians, there was a group of people called Sumerians, who invented the idea of a written language. The Akkadians took the basic ideas of writing and created their own written language.

The Akkadians wrote down all kinds of things, from business records and laws, to poetry and songs. They wrote down legends and stories about their gods, and how powerful their king was, too. Another thing that is unusual is that many people were able to read Akkadian, not just rulers and scribes. Businessmen had to be able to write down information about what they sold.

Besides Akkadians, the people of Assyria and Babylon also spoke and wrote Akkadian. These people groups conquered and ruled Mesopotamia long after the Akkadians. The Akkadian language itself lasted longer than the Akkadian Empire!

This clay tablet describes an alliance the King of Akkad made with another king.
clay tablet with Akkadian writing

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