Settlements > Akkad
Akkad was the capital of the Akkadian Empire. It was a prosperous city that would come to be a major center for human interaction and the development of culture. The city of Akkad would eventually be razed to the ground completely during the Gutian invasion of Mesopotamia.
While the other civilization of Sumer was able to survive in some regards by paying tribute, the Akkadian Empire was fully crushed by this invasion and the destruction of the capital coincided with the collapse of the civilization as a whole.
This did not mean that the Semitic people and their influences went anywhere, but merely the Cultures of Akkad and Sumer transformed into Assyria and Babylonia respectively following many different developments.
To this day archaeologists have been unable to find the remains of the city of Akkad so we are unable to know how exactly the city collapsed or what happened to it. We can infer based on the context of the time however, what was going on within their empire and what gradually happened to it.
While we cannot really say what the city of Akkad looked like because no one has ever found it, let us speculate in the absence of any new discoveries. Like all ancient city-states, the population was dependent on the agricultural systems created.
For the city of Akkad it appears there was two major agricultural systems, the irrigated farmland of southern Iraq and the rain based agriculture of northern Iraq. It is noted during the period of Akkad's believed origin that the amount of rainfall was limited so any agriculture would be entierly dependent on irrigation canals.Southern Iraq during Akkadian period seems to have been approaching its modern rainfall level of less than 20 mm (1 in) per year, with the result that agriculture was totally dependent upon irrigation. Before the Akkadian period the progressive salinisation of the soils, produced by poorly drained irrigation, had been reducing yields of wheat in the southern part of the country, leading to the conversion to more salt-tolerant barley growing. Urban populations there had peaked already by 2,600 BC, and illogical pressures were high, contributing to the rise of militarism apparent immediately before the Akkadian period (as seen in the Stele of the Vultures of Eannatum). Warfare between city states had led to a population decline, from which Akkad provided a temporary respite. It was this high degree of agricultural productivity in the south that enabled the growth of the highest population densities in the world at this time, giving Akkad its military advantage. The water table in this region was very high and replenished regularly—by winter storms in the headwaters of the Tigris and Euphrates from October to March and from snow-melt from March to July. Flood levels, that had been stable from about 3,000 to 2,600 BC, had started falling, and by the Akkadian period were a half-meter to a meter lower than recorded previously. Even so, the flat country and weather uncertainties made flooding much more unpredictable than in the case of the Nile; serious deluges seem to have been a regular occurrence, requiring constant maintenance of irrigation ditches and drainage systems. Farmers were recruited into regiments for this work from August to October—a period of food shortage—under the control of city temple authorities, thus acting as a form of unemployment relief. Some[who?] have suggested that this was Sargon's original employment for the king of Kish, giving him experience in effectively organising large groups of men; a tablet reads, "Sargon, the king, to whom Enlil permitted no rival—5,400 warriors ate bread daily before him". Sea shell of a murex bearing the name of Rimush, king of Kish, ca. 2270 BC, Louvre, traded from the Mediterranean coast where it was used by Canaanites to make a purple dye. Harvest was in the late spring and during the dry summer months. Nomadic Amorites from the northwest would pasture their flocks of sheep and goats to graze on the stubble and be watered from the river and irrigation canals. For this privilege, they would have to pay a tax in wool, meat, milk, and cheese to the temples, who would distribute these products to the bureaucracy and priesthood. In good years, all would go well, but in bad years, wild winter pastures would be in short supply, nomads would seek to pasture their flocks in the grain fields, and conflicts with farmers would result. It would appear that the subsidizing of southern populations by the import of wheat from the north of the Empire temporarily overcame this problem, and it seems to have allowed economic recovery and a growing population within this region. As a result, Sumer and Akkad had a surplus of agricultural products but was short of almost everything else, particularly metal ores, timber and building stone, all of which had to be imported. The spread of the Akkadian state as far as the "silver mountain" (possibly the Taurus Mountains), the "cedars" of Lebanon, and the copper deposits of Magan, was largely motivated by the goal of securing control over these imports. One tablet reads "Sargon, the king of Kish, triumphed in thirty-four battles (over the cities) up to the edge of the sea (and) destroyed their walls. He made the ships from Meluhha, the ships from Magan (and) the ships from Dilmun tie up alongside the quay of Agade. Sargon the king prostrated himself before (the god) Dagan (and) made supplication to him; (and) he (Dagan) gave him the upper land, namely Mari, Yarmuti, (and) Ebla, up to the Cedar Forest (and) up to the Silver Mountain".