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26 The Political Abroach to the Classical World
characters, clothed their gods in the guise of the Sumerian
pantheon, worshipped them with Sumerian rites, adopted the
laws and customs of the land, and became to a large extent
merged in the ancient civilization of their adoption. The great
kings of the Dynasty of Akkad, Sargon and Naram-Sin, extended
the boundaries of their domains ever more widely. Assyria and
eastern Subartu, the north as far as Diarbekr, the south to the
Persian Gulf, the west to Syria, were subject to them. One
legend tells how Sargon, the King of Battle, led his armies even
as far west as Asia Minor; his inscriptions claim that he, like his
successor, Naram-Sin, was master of the cedar forests of Amanus
and the 'silver mountains' of Cilicia.
A traveller passing at this time along one of the great trade
routes from Syria to the junction of the Khabur river and
thence to Asshur on the Upper Tigris, or through Mari down
the Euphrates to any of the cities of Sumer, would find in every
city he visited the same essential features of civilization; art and
architecture were common to all, and cuneiform was the uni-
versal script of business. But in spite of this commercial and
cultural unity of Syria and Mesopotamia, no permanent political
settlement was achieved by the Akkadian conquerors. As soon
as they left the conquered territory, the inhabitants 'revolted'
and the labour of years was undone. Sargon and Naram-Sin
cannot therefore be said to have founded an empire, in spite
of their spectacular campaigns. It is probable that they were
masters of Elam and Assyria, at least intermittently. But they
held even their own country precariously enough, for the cities
of Sumer and Akkad were constantly rising to claim their
The first age of great rulers passed, in Mesopotamia as in
Egypt. Hordes of mountaineers, perhaps ancestors of the modern
Kurds, descended from the hills of Gutium, the region of the
Zagros on the north-east of the Tigris plain, and the dynasty
of Akkad came to a violent end. Under Gutian rule, the country