The Mesopotamians

Articles on the culture, history, and peoples of ancient Mesopotamia


Stele of Narâm-Sîn, king of Akkad, celebrating his victory against the Lullubi from Zagros. Limestone, c. 2250 BCE. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The Akkadian Empire

No one knows who Sargon, the founder of the Akkadian Empire, was, nor the location of the fabled city of Akkad. Sargon himself believed he was the son of a temple priestess and an unknown father. Whatever his origins, Sargon conquered and ruled all of Mesopotamia and...
Caption: Cities of Sumer, Ciudadesde_Sumeria.svg: Crates [CC BY SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Sumer, the First Mesopotamian Culture

Sumer’s history began long before humans invented writing to record historical events. Much of what we know of prehistoric Sumer was found in archeological ruins, which told of a people who gradually switched from a hunting and gathering society to a settled,...
Bronze head of a king, most likely Sargon of Akkad but possibly Naram-Sin. Unearthed in Nineveh (now in Iraq). In the Iraqi Museum, Baghdad. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sargon the Great, the Akkadian Emperor

Sargon, king of Akkad, reigned from 2334 to 2279 B.C. From humble beginnings, he rose to great power, conquering Mesopotamia and parts of Iran, Turkey and Syria. Not only did he found an empire, but he kept it operating smoothly with the innovative use (at the time)...
The marriage of Inanna and Dumuzi on a Sumerian relief. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Sacred Marriage and Sacred Prostitution in Ancient Mesopotamia

In Sumer and later in Babylon, religious rituals involved sacred sexuality in the form of the Sacred Marriage or hieros gamos, an act simulating marriage between the fertility goddess Inanna/Ishtar and the shepherd god, Dumuzi. In this act, the high priestess of...
Famous relief from the Old Babylonian period (now in the British museum) called the “Queen of the Night” relief. Shows the goddess Inanna, later known as Ishtar. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A Powerful Akkadian-Sumerian Priestess, Enheduannna

While millions of Mesopotamian women lived ordinary lives, an Akkadian princess, daughter of Sargon the Great, lived a life anything but ordinary. Enheduanna (2285 to 2250 B.C.) became one of the most prominent and powerful priestesses in all of Sumer and Akkad. She...
mesopotamian women

Mesopotamian Women and Their Social Roles

The role of Mesopotamian women in their society, as in most cultures throughout time, was primarily that of wife, mother and housekeeper. Girls, for example, did not attend the schools run by priests or scribes unless they were royalty. Girls stayed home and learned...
Mesopotamian limestone cylinder seal and impression—worship of Shamash, (Louvre), public domain, via Wikimedia Commons 13. Women in Mesopotamian Society

Mesopotamian Cylinder Seals

Cylinder seals were a small, carved stone cylinder that was used to make an impression in wet clay. When rolled on the wet clay, the seal left an impression that could prove ownership or identity. These small—about an inch to an inch and a half long—seals are delicate...
Bronze head of a king, most likely Sargon of Akkad. Unearthed in Nineveh (now in Iraq). In the Iraqi Museum, Baghdad. Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mesopotamian Governments

Mesopotamian cities started as farming villages. Farming brought in surplus food and the population of the village began to grow. As the gods were the most important beings to the early Mesopotamians, priests, who mediated with the gods and divined their wills, became...
mesopotamian priests and priestesses

Mesopotamian Priests and Priestesses

In Mesopotamian society, priests and priestesses were equals to the king in power and honor. They were mediators between the gods and the people. Ordinary Mesopotamians looked to the priesthood to gain the favor of the gods, especially the patron god or goddess of...
Shamash, god of Justice in Babylon, as handing symbols of authority to Hammurabi. Shamash corresponds to Sumer’s god of Justice, Utu. Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Mesopotamian Religion

Religion was central to Mesopotamians as they believed the divine affected every aspect of human life. Mesopotamians were polytheistic; they worshipped several major gods and thousands of minor gods. Each Mesopotamian city, whether Sumerian, Akkadian, Babylonian or...
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