Portal:Ancient Near East
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Portal:Ancient Near East

Introduction

Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia. Shown are Washukanni, Nineveh, Hatra, Assur, Nuzi, Palmyra, Mari, Sippar, Babylon, Kish, Nippur, Isin, Lagash, Uruk, Charax Spasinu and Ur, from north to south.

Mesopotamia is a historical region of Western Asia situated within the Tigris-Euphrates river system, in the northern part of the Fertile Crescent, in modern days roughly corresponding to most of Iraq, Kuwait, the eastern parts of Syria, Southeastern Turkey, and regions along the Turkish-Syrian and Iran-Iraq borders.

The Sumerians and Akkadians (including Assyrians and Babylonians) dominated Mesopotamia from the beginning of written history (c. 3100 BC) to the fall of Babylon in 539 BC, when it was conquered by the Achaemenid Empire. It fell to Alexander the Great in 332 BC, and after his death, it became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire.

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Akkadian Empire
The Akkadian Empire was centered in Akkad, an ancient city in central Mesopotamia. Despite its ancient importance, the city of Akkad has not yet been located. It was probably situated on the west bank of the Euphrates, between Sippar and Kish (ca 50 km (31 mi) southwest Baghdad).

The Akkadian Empire reached the height of its power between the 23rd and 22nd centuries BC, following the conquests of king Sargon of Akkad.

Because of the policies of the Akkadian Empire toward linguistic assimilation, the predominant Semitic dialect was named the Akkadian language, reflected in the word akkadû ("in the language of Akkad") during the Old Babylonian period to denote a Semitic-language version of a Sumerian text.

Did you know

...... that the Royal Game of Ur is a board game that was first played in ancient Mesopotamia over 4,500 years ago?

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Key topic

...The Epic of Gilgamesh is an epic poem from ancient Mesopotamia and is among the earliest known works of literary fiction. Scholars surmise that a series of Sumerian legends about the mythological hero-king Gilgamesh (who according to the Sumerian king list might have been a real ruler in the late Early Dynastic II period (ca. 27th century BC)) were later compiled by the scribe Sin-liqe-unninni into an Akkadian language epic, with the most complete version existing today preserved on twelve clay tablets found in the library of the 7th century BC Assyrian king Ashurbanipal.

The story revolves around the relationship between Gilgamesh, a king who has become distracted and disheartened by his rule, and a friend, Enkidu, who is half-wild and who undertakes dangerous quests with Gilgamesh. Much of the epic focuses on Gilgamesh's thoughts of loss following Enkidu's death. It is about their becoming human together, and places a high emphasis on issues surrounding human mortality. It is often credited by historians as being one of the first literary works.

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