Sargon: the World's First Emperor

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The first civilization is thought to have arisen in Mesopotamia, between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. The first great civilization was called Sumeria. Sadly, it was also the first great civilization to be conquered.

The conquerors were the Akkadians, who lived to the north. They were not as technologically advanced as the Sumerians, but they had better weapons and an army that was trained. In those days, that made all the difference.

The head of the Akkadians was Sargon, who proved himself an able ruler for most of his lifetime. And as ruler of his own people and of the Sumerians, he was, technically, the world's first emperor. His capital was Akkad, the later site of the great city of Babylon.

The land Sargon ruled over was great indeed, extending throughout Mesopotamia, from the Mediterranean Sea in the west to the Black Sea in the north. He sent expeditions into Asia Minor and southeast Arabia, with varying degrees of success. In the process, he spread not only the military wisdom of his army but also the cultural wisdom of Sumeria, the civilization that he conquered. Thus, the Sumerians lived on in their inventions: the first written language, the first use of the wheel, the first use of irrigation, and the first library, among others.

Sargon first conquered Sumeria in 2340 B.C. He ruled for 35 more years, until his death in 2305. His successors ruler in his place but not quite as well. The large territory proved difficult to control as the years went by and the Sumerians learned some military skill of their own. Finally, in 2125, the Sumerians revolted as one, joining together to overthrow their conquerors. Leading the way was the city-state of Ur, which would become one of the world's leading centers of civilization.

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