Episode 8: Lugalgagesi of Umma and Sargon of Kish
Ancient Mesopotamia: Life in the Cradle of Civilization
Dr Amanda H Podany
This lecture concerns Mesopotamia’s most famous kings, Lugalgagesi of Umma and Sargon of Kish. Umma continued to have border wars with the city-state of Lagash (see
Mesopotamia’s First Kings/) for several centuries. Around 2350 BC, Lugalgagesi totally sacked Lagash, burning its temples, destroying its treasury and barley fields belonging to one of the temples.
After sacking Lagash, Lugalgagesi declared himself ruler of all the land between the Upper Sea (Mediterranean) and the Lower Sea (Persian Gulf). However in reality, he only controlled a confederation of six southern Mesopotamian city-states: Lagash, Umma, Uruk, Larson, Ur and Zabalam.
King Sargon of Kish* ended Lugalgagesi’s reign in 2334 BC after conquering the cities Lugalgagesi controlled and establishing the Akkadian empire (the world’s first).
The exploits of both kings were recorded in cuneiform script on clay tablets (in both Sumerian and Akkadian**). It was during this period that scribes began using cuneiform to record historical narratives (especially those of kings) as well as for keeping records of transactions.
Sargon is best known for establishing a well-functioning bureaucracy to govern the captured city-states, standardizing the writing system and establishing direct trade links with Dilman (modern day Bahrain) and the Indus Valley.
Film can be viewed free with a library card on Kanopy.
*Like Moses, Sargon was the secret son of a princess who floated him down the river in a reed basket. He was rescued by a different queen who raised him as her own child.
**The wealthy elite of the Akkadian empire spoke both languages.