Naram-Sin of Akkad
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Naram-Sin of Akkad

Naram-Sin also transcribed Nar?m-Sîn or Naram-Suen (Akkadian: ?: DNa-ra-am DSîn, meaning "Beloved of the Moon God Sîn", the "?" being a silent honorific for "Divine"),[1] was a ruler of the Akkadian Empire, who reigned c. 2254-2218 BC,[2] and was the third successor and grandson of King Sargon of Akkad. Under Naram-Sin the empire reached its maximum strength. He was the first Mesopotamian king known to have claimed divinity for himself, taking the title "God of Akkad", and the first to claim the title "King of the Four Quarters, King of the Universe".


Naram-Sin was born as a son of Manishtushu. He was thus a nephew of King Rimush and grandson of Sargon and Tashlultum. Naram-Sin's aunt was the High Priestess En-hedu-ana.


Possible relief of Naram-Sin at Darband-i-Gawr, celebrating his victory over Lullubi king Satuni.[3] Qaradagh Mountain, Sulaymaniyah, Iraqi Kurdistan.

Naram-Sin defeated Manium of Magan, and various northern hill tribes in the Zagros, Taurus, and Amanus Mountains, expanding his empire up to the Mediterranean Sea and Armenia. His "Victory Stele" depicts his triumph over Satuni, chief of Lullubi in the Zagros Mountains. The king list gives the length of his reign as 56 years, and at least 20 of his year-names are known, referring to military actions against various places such as Uruk and Subartu. One unknown year was recorded as "the Year when Naram-Sin was victorious against Simurrum in Kirasheniwe and took prisoner Baba the governor of Simurrum, and Dubul the ensi of Arame".[4] Other year names refer to his construction work on temples in Akkad, Nippur, and Zabala. He also built administrative centers at Nagar and Nineveh. At one point in his reign much of the empire, led by Iphur-Kis from the city of Kish rose in rebellion and was put down strongly.[5]

Submission of Sumerian kings

The submission of some Sumerian rulers to Naram-Sin, and in general to the Akkadian Empire, is recorded in the seal inscriptions of Sumerian rulers such as Lugal-ushumgal, governor (ensi) of Lagash ("Shirpula"), circa 2230-2210 BCE. Several inscriptions of Lugal-ushumgal are known, particularly seal impressions, which refer to him as governor of Lagash and at the time a vassal (?, arad, "servant" or "slave") of Naram-Sin, as well as his successor Shar-kali-sharri.[6][7][8][9][10] One of these seals proclaims:

"Naram-Sin, the mighty God of Agade, king of the four corners of the world, Lugalushumgal, the scribe, ensi of Lagash, is thy servant."

It can be considered that Lugalushumgal was a collaborator of the Akkadian Empire, as was Meskigal, ruler of Adab.[12] Later however, Lugal-ushumgal was succeeded by Puzer-Mama who, as Akkadian power waned, achieved independence from Shar-Kali-Sharri, assuming the title of "King of Lagash" and starting the illustrious Second Dynasty of Lagash.[13][14]

The Curse of Akkad

Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, c. 2230 BC. It shows him defeating the Lullibi, a tribe in the Zagros Mountains, and their king Satuni, trampling them and spearing them. Satuni, standing right, is imploring Naram-Sin to save him.[15] Naram-Sin is also twice the size of his soldiers. In the 12th century BC it was taken to Susa, where it was found in 1898.

One Mesopotamian myth, a historiographic poem entitled "The curse of Akkad: the Ekur avenged", explains how the empire created by Sargon of Akkad fell and the city of Akkad was destroyed. The myth was written hundreds of years after Naram-Sin's life and is the poet's attempt to explain how the Gutians succeeded in conquering Sumer. After an opening passage describing the glory of Akkad before its destruction, the poem tells of how Naram-Sin angered the chief god Enlil by plundering the Ekur (Enlil's temple in Nippur.) In his rage, Enlil summoned the Gutians down from the hills east of the Tigris, bringing plague, famine and death throughout Mesopotamia. Food prices became vastly inflated, with the poem stating that 1 lamb would buy only half a sila (about 425 ml) of grain, half a sila of oil, or half a mina (about 250g) of wool.[16] To prevent this destruction, eight of the gods (namely Inanna, Enki, Sin, Ninurta, Utu, Ishkur, Nusku, and Nidaba) decreed that the city of Akkad should be destroyed in order to spare the rest of Sumer and cursed it. This is exactly what happens, and the story ends with the poet writing of Akkad's fate, mirroring the words of the gods' curse earlier on:

Its chariot roads grew nothing but the 'wailing plant,'
Moreover, on its canalboat towpaths and landings,
No human being walks because of the wild goats, vermin, snakes, and mountain scorpions,
The plains where grew the heart-soothing plants, grew nothing but the 'reed of tears,'
Akkad, instead of its sweet-flowing water, there flowed bitter water,
Who said "I would dwell in that" found not a good dwelling place,
Who said "I would lie down in Akkad" found not a good sleeping place."

Gutian Incursions

These Gutian raids were indeed devastating, but it is unknown how badly they affected Sumer. Naram-Sin may have passed on his empire to his son Shar-Kali-Sharri more or less intact upon his death in c. 2219 BC, or he may have passed on little more than Akkad itself.[17] The Gutians remained there for over 100 years before being replaced by the Ur III state as the dominant political power.[18][19]

Victory stele

Seals in the name of Naram-Sin

Naram-Sin's Victory Stele depicts him as a god-king (symbolized by his horned helmet) climbing a mountain above his soldiers, and his enemies, the defeated Lullubi led by their king Satuni. Although the stele was broken off at the top when it was stolen and carried off by the Elamite forces of Shutruk-Nakhunte, it still strikingly reveals the pride, glory, and divinity of Naram-Sin. The stele seems to break from tradition by using successive diagonal tiers to communicate the story to viewers, however the more traditional horizontal frames are visible on smaller broken pieces. It is six feet and seven inches tall, and made from pink limestone.[20] The stele was found at Susa, and is now in the Louvre Museum.[21] A similar bas-relief depicting Naram-Sin was found a few miles north-east of Diarbekr, at Pir Hüseyin.

The inscription over the head of the king is in Akkadian and fragmentary, but reads:

Naram-Sin stele, inscription of Naram-Sin in the Akkadian language. The name Naram-Sin (?) appears vertically in the upper right box.

"Naram-Sin the powerful . . . . Sidur and Sutuni, princes of the Lulubi, gathered together and they made war against me."

-- Akkadian inscription of Naram-Sin.[22]

The second inscription, to the right over the mountainous cone, is in Elamite and was written about 1000 years later by king Shutruk-Nahhunte, who stole the stele and brought it to Elam.[23]


Stele of the Akkadian king Naram-Sin. The "-ra-am" and "-sin" parts of the name "Naram-Sin" appear in the broken top right corner of the inscription, traditionally reserved for the name of the ruler. Istanbul Archaeological Museum.
The name "Naram-Sin" in cuneiform on an inscription. The star symbol "?" is a silent honorific for "Divine", Sîn (Moon God) is specially written with the characters "EN-ZU" ().

Among the known sons of Naram-Sin were his successor Shar-Kali-Sharri, Nabi-Ulmash, who was governor of Tutub, and a Ukin-Ulmash. Excavations at Tell Mozan (ancient Urkesh) brought to light a sealing of Tar'am-Agade, a previously unknown daughter of Naram-Sin, who was possibly married to an unidentified endan (ruler) of Urkesh.[24]

See also


  1. ^ Mémoires. Mission archéologique en Iran. 1900. p. 53.
  2. ^ middle chronology
  3. ^ Bromiley, Geoffrey W. (1995). The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing. p. 186. ISBN 9780802837851.
  4. ^ Year-Names of Naram-Sin of Agade
  5. ^ Steve Tinney, A New Look at Naram-Sin and the "Great Rebellion", Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 47, pp. 1-14, 1995
  6. ^ "Sumerian Dictionary".
  7. ^ a b Radau, Hugo (2005). Early Babylonian History: Down to the End of the Fourth Dynasty of Ur. Wipf and Stock Publishers. pp. 6-7. ISBN 978-1-59752-381-3.
  8. ^ Woolley, Leonard (1938). The Summerians. p. 83.
  9. ^ The Art Of Ancient Mesopotamia ( Art Ebook). p. 53.
  10. ^ Seal image M4 in: The Art Of Ancient Mesopotamia ( Art Ebook). p. 53.
  11. ^ "CDLI-Archival View RT 165".
  12. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. 1971. p. 436.
  13. ^ "Puzur-Mama, who served as a "governor" of Lagash, in all probability during the reign of Shar-kali-sharri. After the Akkadian empire had collapsed, Puzur-Mama became fully independent, assuming the title of "King of Lagash"" in Álvarez-Mon, Javier; Basello, Gian Pietro; Wicks, Yasmina (2018). The Elamite World. Routledge. p. 254. ISBN 978-1-317-32983-1.
  14. ^ The Cambridge Ancient History. Cambridge University Press. 1971. p. 998.
  15. ^ Roux, Georges (1995). La Mésopotamie. Essai d'histoire politique, économique et culturelle. Le Seuil. p. 141. ISBN 9782021291636.
  16. ^ Samuel Noah Kramer (2010-09-17). The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0 226 45238 7.
  17. ^ Samuel Noah Kramer (2010-09-17). The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character. University of Chicago Press. ISBN 0 226 45238 7.
  18. ^ Babylonian Life and History, by E. A. Wallis Budge
  19. ^ Julian Reade (2000). Mesopotamia. British Museum Press. pp. 67-68. ISBN 0-7141-2181-9. OCLC 43501084.
  20. ^ Kleiner, Fred (2005). Gardner's Art Through The Ages. Thomson-Wadsworth. p. 41. ISBN 0-534-64095-8.
  21. ^ Louvre ( Arts and Architecture). Köln: Könemann. ISBN 3-8331-1943-8.
  22. ^ Babylonian & Oriental Record. 1895. p. 27.
  23. ^ Mieroop, Marc Van De (2015). A History of the Ancient Near East, ca. 3000-323 BC. John Wiley & Sons. p. 199. ISBN 9781118718230.
  24. ^ Buccellati, Giorgio; Kelly-Buccellati, Marilyn (2002). "Tar'am-Agade, Daughter of Naram-Sin, at Urkesh" (PDF). In Al-Gailani Werr, Lamia (ed.). Of Pots and Plans. Papers on the Archaeology and History of Mesopotamia and Syria presented to David Oates in Honour of his 75th Birthday. London: Nabu. pp. 11-31. ISBN 1897750625. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 2015.


  • Piotr Michalowski, New Sources concerning the Reign of Naram-Sin, Journal of Cuneiform Studies, vol. 32, no. 4, pp. 233-246, (Oct., 1980)
  • H.W.F. Saggs, The Babylonians, Fourth Printing, 1988, Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
  • J. P. Naab, E. Unger, Die Entdeckung der Stele des Naram-Sin in Pir Hüseyin, Istanbul Asariatika Nesriyati XII (1934)[1].

External links

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