According to the Assyrian King List [] (AKL), Narām-Sîn became the king of Aššur following the reign of his father Puzur-Aššur II []; he was the thirty-seventh ruler. Although the length of his reign is not preserved on any extant copies of the AKL, it is certain from Kültepe Eponym List (KEL) that he held authority for at least twenty-seven years, as the names of some of his eponym-officials [] are preserved in that chronographic text (Veenhof 2003, 8-9); Narām-Sîn was the final king whose eponyms were recorded in the KEL and, thus, K. Veenhof (2003, 45) proposes that his reign must have been considerably longer than the number of years listed in that eponym list. According to the Nassouhi [] manuscript of the AKL (ii 34), the number of years that he exercised kingship ended with a number four. Veenhof (2003, 45) suggests that Narām-Sîn sat on the throne forty-four or fifty-four years before he was succeeded by his son Erišum II [].

It is important to note that, contrary to an earlier theory, Narām-Sîn should not be identified with the monarch of Ešnunna who bore the same name (Streck 1998-2000a, 177). According to recent reconstructions of the chronology of this period, the latter must have ruled some fifty-five years after Narām-Sîn of Aššur (Veenhof 2003, 45; see also Streck 1998-2000b).

Narām-Sîn ascended the throne at a time when Assyrians traders were actively engaged in trade in Anatolia, and their principal trading center was the kārum at Kaneš (mod. Kültepe). As ruler of Aššur, Narām-Sîn would have been involved in the administration of the trade network and, therefore, it is probable that he wrote some of the waklum [☣%40riao%25akk%3AUGULA%3Dwaklu%5Boverseer%2F%2Foverseer%5DN´N%24wakil]-letters found at Kaneš. The letters that one can confidently attribute to him are ICK 1, 181 [] and kt c/k 1010 [] (Veenhof 2003, 45-46). Level II of the kārum Kaneš came to an end in ca. 1836 BCE (=Narām-Sîn's thirty-seventh regnal year, the last year recorded in the KEL); this marked the end of the main period of Assyrian commercial activity in Anatolia. While Assyrian trade did resume during Level Ib, there seems to have been an interval of uncertain length between these two phases of activity. The exact reason for this interruption in the archive is unclear, but one can assume fairly confidently that its effects would have been felt back home in Aššur.

Narām-Sîn's seal impression (text no. 1) is the only surviving royal inscription of this monarch. Just as his grandfather, Sargon I [], had written his name on his seal, Narām-Sîn also used the divine determinative (d) before his name. This was unusual for an Old Assyrian ruler and was very likely a deliberate reference to the grandson of the famous Sargon of Agade [], Narām-Sîn of Agade [], who was deified after successfully quashing a major uprising. Thus, Narām-Sîn of Aššur and the rest of his dynasty made a parallel between themselves and the famous Mesopotamian dynasty of old (for further discussion of this see the general introduction [] to Sargon I).


Streck 1998-2000a = Streck M. P., 'Narām-Sîn von Aššur,' in: M. P. Streck (ed.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 9, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1998-2000, pp. 177.
Streck 1998-2000b = Streck M. P., 'Narām-Sîn von Ešnunna,' in: M. P. Streck (ed.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 9, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1998-2000, pp. 177-8.
Veenhof, K.R., The Old Assyrian List of Year Eponyms from Karum Kanish and its Chronological Implications, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2003.

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This text is preserved on two clay envelopes found at the kārum at Kaneš (mod. Kültepe) (kt 89/k 127 [] and 129 []). It is the impression of Narām-Sîn's seal and is the only surviving royal inscription of this monarch. Narām-Sîn's name is written dna-ra-am-/dEN.ZU. Like his grandfather, Sargon I [], Narām-Sîn used the divine determinative (d) before his name (see the general introduction [] to Narām-Sîn's reign).

Access the composite text [] of Narām-Sîn 1.

Sources: (1) AMM 1-1-89      (2) AMM 1-3-89     


1993 Özkan, FS N.Özgüç p. 502 and pls. 90/2 + 90/3 (photo, copy, study).
1998 Galter, SAAB 12/1 p. 6 (edition).
2003 Veenhof, OALE p. 45 (study).

Poppy Tushingham

Poppy Tushingham, 'Narām-Sîn', The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo) Project, The RIAo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 []

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