Sargon I

Sargon I (ca. 1920-1991 BCE) reigned for a remarkable forty years, according to the Old Assyrian Kültepe Eponym List (KEL; see Veenhof 2003). He is listed as the thirty-fifth monarch in the Assyrian King List [] (AKL) and, apparently, was the third king to date his regnal years by līmus [] or eponyms, an institution founded during the reign of Erišum I []. He succeeded his father Ikūnum [] and was followed on the throne by his son Puzur-Aššur II [].

In the present corpus, Sargon's name is written dLUGAL-GIN. The use of the divine determinative (d) preceding the name of an Old Assyrian ruler is unusual, to the extent that former scholarship disputed this reading (Veenhof 2003, 44). However, Sargon most likely borrowed his name and its spelling from the famous third-millennium founder of the Akkadian Empire, Sargon of Agade []. Sargon I's grandson Narām-Sîn [] took the name of Sargon of Agade's grandson, strengthening the case that this was a conscious political statement (Veenhof 2003, 44; Michel 2009-11, 50). Both of these Old Akkadian kings were deified, thus the use of the divine determinative on the part of their namesakes is not particularly surprising. The discovery of an Old Assyrian "Sargon Tale" (Kt j/k 97 []) also suggests that Sargon I was named for Sargon of Agade: the manuscript may date from Sargon I's reign, perhaps indicating an interest in the Old Akkadian monarch at this time (Günbattı C 1997, 131-155).

Sargon is known from various contemporary and later documents: Assyrian chronicles (Grayson 1980-1983, § 3.9, 105); a votive inscription (text no. 2001); royal inscriptions of his successors; private archival texts found at Kültepe (Michel 2001); and impressions of his seal (see text no. 1). No single royal inscription can be attributed to the monarch himself, apart from his seal inscription. However, the private votive inscription (text no. 2001) inscribed on a bronze plate found in the Ištar temple at Aššur appears to have been written during Sargon's reign. He is also mentioned in royal inscriptions of the following kings in the context of his work on the Ištar temple at Aššur: Puzur-Aššur III [] (text no. 2 []), Adad-nārārī I [] (text no. 15 []), and Shalmaneser I [] (text no. 6 []).

Sargon is known predominantly through his involvement with the Assyrian traders of the kārum at Kaneš (mod. Kültepe). Anatolian trade reached a high point during this period: many prominent merchants known from the archive were active during the last fifteen years of Sargon's reign (Veenhof 2003, 43; see also ibid., 8, eponyms 80-94). Indeed, Sargon himself may have been to Anatolia: he seems to be the author of a letter (Kt 92/k 94) which refers to meeting the recipient in Wašhania (ina W. ninnamer) (Veenhof 2003, 43). It is likely that he was crown prince at this time, as several Assyrian princes visited Anatolia and engaged in trade there. Indeed, many of Sargon's own sons appear in the archives: Adu(d)ā as a witness in contract Kt j/k 201:13 []; Ezē in Kt 91/k 477 A:3 []; Ennum-Aššur in Hecker et al. 1988, I 622: 4'; and Šalim-Aššur in Kt. 87/k 552: 40f. They are described as the sons of the rubā'um [☣%40riao%25akk%3Aru-ba-u₂%3Drubû%5Bruler%2F%2Fruler%5DN´N%24rubāʾu] ("ruler").

Several impressions of Sargon's seal were found on the envelopes of the waklum [☣%40riao%25akk%3AUGULA%3Dwaklu%5Boverseer%2F%2Foverseer%5DN´N%24wakil]-letters ("overseer") (Balkan 1955, 51ff. with figs. 1-5; POAT, 18 B []; Kt n/k 1925/a []). His seal bears a short inscription (see text no. 1) and a scene in the Isin-Larsa style. The scene shows Sîn presenting the king to the god Aššur. Sargon's son and grandson continued to use his seal as a dynastic seal after his death (Kryszat 2004), however, meaning that not all objects bearing his seal impression date to his reign.

[Poppy Tushingham]


Balkan K, Observations on the Chronological Problems of the kārum Kaniš (TTKY VII/28), Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Basimevi, 1955.
Grayson, A.K., 'Königslisten und Chroniken. B. Akkadisch,' in: D.O. Edzard (ed.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 6/1-2, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1980, pp. 86-135.
Günbattı C., Kültepeʼden Akadlı Sargon'a ait bir Tablet, Archivum Anatolicum 3 (Emin Bilgiç Anı Kitabı), Ankara, 1997, pp. 131-155.
Hecker, K., Kryszat, G., Matouš, L., Kappadokische Keilschrifttafeln aus den Sammlungen der Karlsuniversität Prag, Prag: Karlsuniversität 1998.
Kryszat, G., 'Wer schrieb die Waklum Briefe?,' in: J. G. Dercksen (ed.) Assyria and Beyond: Studies presented to Mogens Trolle Larsen, Leiden: Nederlands Instituut voor het Nabije Oosten, 2004, pp. 253-258.
Michel, C., Correspondance des marchands de Kaniš (= LAPO 19), Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf, 2001.
Michel, C., 'Sargon I. Roi d'Aššur,' in: M. P. Streck (ed.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 12, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2009-2011, pp. 49-51.
Sommerfeld, W., 'Sargon von Akkade,' in: M. P. Streck (ed.), Reallexikon der Assyriologie und Vorderasiatischen Archäologie 12, Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 2009-2011, pp. 44-49.
Veenhof, K.R., The Old Assyrian List of Year Eponyms from Karum Kanish and its Chronological Implications, Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu, 2003.

Browse the RIAo Corpus []

1   2001  


The inscription engraved on the seal of Ṣargon I is known from several impressions on clay tablets and envelopes discovered at Kaniš (modern Kültepe). Interestingly and unexpectedly (but see above the introduction on the ruler), the royal name is preceded by the divine determinative (d).

Access the composite text [] of Sargon I 1.

Sources: (1) NMS A.1909.585A      (2) Ank - (kt c/k 1389)     (3) Ank - (kt a/k 0938a)     (4) J. Lewy, Nachrichten der Giessener Hochschulgesellschaft 6/1 pl. 5 fig. 4     (5) UM L-29-573


1911 Sayce, Babyloniaca 4 pp. 66-67 and 77 (ex. 1, copy, edition)
1926 Meissner, IAK VII 1 (ex. 1, edition)
1927-28 J. Lewy, Nachrichten der Giessener Hochschulgesellschaft VI/1 pl. V fig. 4 (ex. 4, photo)
1935 Eisser and Lewy, MVAG 35/3 no. 327 (ex. 1, edition)
1954 Landsberger, JCS 8 pp. 108-109 n. 200 (study)
1955 Balkan, Observations pp. 51-52 and figs. 1-5 (exs. 1-4, photo, edition)
1955 Meyer in Preusser, Paläste p. 11 (edition)
1956 J. Lewy, HUCA 27 pp. 78-79 (exs. 1, 4, edition)
1957 Goetze, Kleinasien fig. 12 and pp. 69-70 (exs. 1-4, photo, study)
1957-58 Nagel, AfO 18 pp. 99-100 (exs. 1-4, edition)
1958 J. Lewy, JAOS 78 pp. 89 and 100 (exs. 1, 4-5, translation)
1961 Borger, EAK 1 p. 3 (study)
1963 Garelli, Les Assyriens p. 200 (ex. 1, translation)
1967 Seux, ERAS p. 358 n. 4 (study)
1968 H. Lewy, HUCA 39 p. 32 (ex. 5, copy)
1971 Hirsch, Iraq 33 p. 117 (study)
1972 Grayson, ARI 1 XXXV 1 (translation)
1976 Larsen, City-State pp. 134 and 158 (study)
1979 Dalley, Cat. Edinburgh no. 6A (ex. 1, copy)
1980 Al-Gailani Werr, BIA 17 p. 44 no. 20 (exs. 1-2, copy)
1983 Gwaltney, HUCA Suppl. 3 Pa. 18B (ex. 5, edition)
1987 Grayson, RIMA 1 p. 45-46 A.0.35.1 (edition)


A triangular bronze plaque discovered in the Old Assyrian Ištar temple at Aššur is inscribed with a private dedication of a woman who lived during Sargon I's reign. The object, which is now in Berlin (Vorderasiatisches Museum) was fashioned and dedicated to the goddess Ištar by Ḫadītum (or Ḫattītum), the wife of Bēlum-nāda (exact reading uncertain). Note that Sargon's name is preceded by the divine determinative (d).

Access the composite text [] of Sargon I 2001.

Source: VA Ass 04286 (Ass 19624b)


1922 Andrae, AIT p. 107 no. 156 (photo, study)
1957-58 Nagel, AfO 18 p. 100 n. 15 (study)
1961 Borger, EAK 1 p. 3 (study)
1972 Grayson, ARI 1 XXXV 2 (study)
1981 Jakob-Rost and Freydank, AoF 8 pp. 325-27 and pls. 23-25 (photo, copy, edition)
1983 Deller, Oriens Antiquus 22 pp. 13-15 (edition)
1987 Grayson, RIMA 1 p. 46 A.0.35.2001 (edition)

Jamie Novotny & Poppy Tushingham

Jamie Novotny & Poppy Tushingham, 'Sargon I', The Royal Inscriptions of Assyria online (RIAo) Project, The RIAo Project, a sub-project of MOCCI, 2021 []

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