Ancient Mesopotamia 5 musical instruments, and elaborate headdresses. While Mesopotamia was rich in agricultural products, it lacked metals and precious stones. Yet, items in the tombs were made from copper, gold, silver, lapis lazuli, and carnelian. Prized commodi- ties like these were possessed by the upper classes and obtained only through vast trade networks with Persia (present-day Iran), Anatolia (present-day Turkey), Egypt, India, and Afghanistan. Akkadians (2350–2150 BCE) The Sumerians eventually came into increasing conflict with the Akkadians, another Mesopotamian tribe, originally from the Arabian Peninsula. The Akka- dian leader of Kish—Sargon—led an army that conquered the Sumerians in 2350 BCE, uniting the two civilizations into one powerful empire. The center of the empire was the city of Akkad, in northern Mesopotamia, where the Tigris and Euphrates flow closest to each other. The Akkadians spoke a Semitic language— from the same language family as Hebrew and Arabic. The Akkadian language became the lingua franca for the next 2,000 years, although religious texts contin- ued to be written in Sumerian. During this period, the Akkadians pursued territorial and economic expansion. They expanded on the Sumerian trade networks and established direct trade by the water route via the Persian Gulf with the Indus Valley (modern-day Pakistan, about 2,000 miles away) and obtained precious metals and stones from the Indus Valley traders. Later, it appears that the ports of Dilmun (modern-day Bahrain) and Magan (Oman) to the south became the meeting point for trade for the two civilizations. Steles of Naram-Sin It isn’t known how far the Akkadian Empire stretched, but it was possibly all the way to Lebanon, Turkey, and Syria—about 500 miles west of Mesopo- tamia. In fact, a stele found in the small village of Pir Hüseyin in southeastern Turkey, along the Tigris River, depicts the Akkadian Empire’s fourth leader, Naram-Sin—King of the Four Corners of the Universe—who was Sargon’s grandson. Steles are wood or stone slabs inscribed with writing and pictures, carved in relief. Mesopotamians, and other civilizations around the world, used steles to commemorate an event, such as a battle victory, or to mark a border. The stele found in Turkey has a portrait of Naram-Sin and cuneiform writing carved into the stone, declaring the stele his. Made from black diorite, a stone precious to the Mesopotamians, the carved figure of Naram-Sin holds a weapon. In other steles in this style, the kings hold weapons not as tools of war, but as symbols of authority. Such steles were declarations that the kings were protectors of their people. This stele is thought to have marked Naram-Sin’s territory and his people (Jastrow 1915).
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