A little background to the ancient land of Akkadia and the Akkadian language.

During the 3rd Millennium BC, the Sumerians and the Akkadians lived peacefully together and created conditions for a common high civilization.

A few centuries later the first Akkadian king, Sargon of Akkad, ruled over an empire that included a large part of Mesopotamia. The ancient name Akkadian is derived from the city-state of Akkad. It appears that Semitic speaking people had lived for centuries amidst the Sumerians and gradually became an integral part of the Sumerian culture. We don't hear much about them in the first part of the 3rd millennium, because the scholarly language used in writing at that time was Sumerian.

Akkadia was founded by Sargon I when he conquered Sumeria. Sargon reigned from 2334 to 2279 BCE, and during those fifty-five years Akkadia became the world's first empire. During his reign, the Akkadian language became the lingua franca of the region. Along with the language came the Semitic culture it represented. The Biblical Shinar, the home of the tribe of Terach, father of Abraham, about 2400 BCE, was ancient Akkadia. It later became Babylonia, and it is now (roughly) Iraq. The art of glassmaking was born in Akkadia. It was a Semitic, and then a Jewish, art for the next three millennia. Glassmaking was unique among the arts, for it was invented only once in all of human history. Its spread through the world was parallel to, and coincident with, the dispersal of the Jews.

Akkadian is one of the great cultural languages of world history. Akkadian (or Babylonian-Assyrian) is the collective name for the spoken languages of the culture in Mesopotamia, the area between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris. Deciphered in the 1850s, Akkadian is the medium of innumerable documents from daily life as well as a vast literature, including the famous Epic of Gilgamesh, the quest of a man for eternal life.

Akkadian, the oldest known member of the family of Semitic languages, succeeded Sumerian as the vernacular tongue of Mesopotamia and was spoken by the Babylonians and Assyrians over a period of nearly two thousand years. It was written in the cuneiform script invented by the Sumerians, and the surviving documentation covers the period from 2350 BC to the first century AD. The oldest known writing system employed by Semitic-speaking peoples is cuneiform. It was adopted by the Akkadians ca.2500 BC from the Sumerians, whose language was not a Semitic tongue.

The city of Babel is thought to have been Babylon and the word babel comes originally from the Akkadian Bab-ilu meaning "gate of God".

The earliest surviving inscriptions in the language go back to about 2,500 BC and are the oldest known written records in a Semitic tongue. The Semitic languages are named after Shem or Sem, the oldest son of Noah, from whom most of the languages' speakers were said to be descended.

By the first century AD Akkadian had become an extinct language replaced as a spoken language by Aramaic.

On Sumerian clay tablets dated around 2900-2800 BCE found in Fara, Semitic (Akkadian) names are attested for the first time. It concerns the names of kings in the city Kish, in the north of Babylonia where according to the Sumerian King Lists 'kingship descended again from heaven' after the great Flood. Kings with Semitic names are the first postdiluvial kings to rule Kish. They started the first historical period called the Early Dynastic Period.

During excavations in 1843 and 1845 AD large collections of clay tablets were found carrying cuneiform signs. They pointed to a forgotten Assyrian civilization which was hinted at in the bible and in Greek scripts (Herodotus). The decipherment of the language was completed in 1851 and the language was first called Assyrian, but is now considered a dialect of Akkadian.

Ikhnaton's capital, Akhetaton, was in Tell el Amarna. About 400 tablets with inscriptions in Akkadian cuneiform were found there in 1887. They constitute correspondence between Amenhotep III and Ikhnaton and the governors of the cities in Palestine and Syria, and they shed much light on ancient Egypt and the Middle East. The tablets are mostly in the Berlin, British, and Cairo museums.

North Semitic Division

"An example of a Northeast Semitic language is Akkadian, also called Assyro-Babylonian. The principal subdivisions of the Northwest Semitic group are Canaanite, Ugaritic, and Aramaic (which embraced many dialects in the course of its long history, including Syriac). The term Canaanite is derived from Canaan, the name for the ancient region that comprised Palestine, Phoenicia, and part of Syria. Included among the Canaanite languages are Phoenician, Moabite, and Hebrew. Phoenician, a dead language, was the tongue of the Phoenician people. The earliest inscriptions in Phoenician that can be deciphered are dated ca.10th century BC. The language is also preserved in inscriptions from ancient Phoenician colonies, especially Carthage, whose language was a variant of Phoenician known as Punic. The existence of Moabite is known from a single inscription in that language dating from about the 9th century BC, from proper names that occur in the Old Testament, and from the inscriptions of other peoples. The Ugaritic language was first encountered in 1929 at Ras Shamra, Syria, a village where ancient clay tablets with writing in this tongue were found. Since Ras Shamra, which flourished before the 12th century BC, was called Ugarit in antiquity, the language discovered there was named after that ancient city. The Ugaritic language has variously been regarded as an early form of Hebrew, an early form of Phoenician, an early dialect of Canaanite, and an independent dialect of Northwest Semitic. Its classification is still unresolved. The writings in Ugaritic are important in the study of the Hebrew language and biblical literature of the early period."

The following entry is interesting: there may be more to this Canadian origin than meets the eye .....

Acadian - 1705, from Acadia, Latinized form of Acadie, Fr. name of Nova Scotia, probably from Archadia, the name given to the region by Verrazano in 1524, from Gk. Arkadia, emblematic in pastoral poetry of a place of rural peace; the name may have been suggested to Europeans by the Micmac Indian word akadie "fertile land." The Acadians, expelled by the English in 1755, settled in large numbers in Louisiana (see Cajun, which is a corruption of Acadian).
Etymology Online compiled by Douglas Harper

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