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Naram-Sin of Akkad

Naram-Sin, stele
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, c. 2230 BC. It shows him defeating the Lullibi, a tribe in the Zagros Mountains, trampling them and spearing them. He is also twice the size of his soldiers. In the 12th century BC it was taken to Susa, where it was found in 1898.
Born Naram-Sin
Other names Naram-Suen
Predecessor Manishtushu
Successor Shar-Kali-Sharri
Children Shar-Kali-Sharri
Parent(s) Manishtushu (father)
unknown mother
Relatives Sargon of Akkad (grandfather)
Tashlultum (grandmother)
Rimush (uncle)
En-hedu-ana (aunt)

Naram-Sin (also transcribed Narām-Sîn, Naram-Suen, Sin or Suen being the Akkadians' moon god equivalent to the Sumerian Nanna), reigned ca. 2254–2218 BCE, middle chronology, was the third successor and grandson of King Sargon of Akkad. Under Naram-Sin the Akkadian Empire reached its zenith. He was the first Mesopotamian king known to have claimed divinity for himself, and one of the first (following the earlier Lugal-Anne-Mundu) to be called "King of the Four Quarters".


  • Biography 1
    • Reign 1.1
    • Victory stele 1.2
    • Rock Relief of Naram-Sin 1.3
    • Children 1.4
  • See also 2
  • References 3
  • Sources 4
  • External links 5


Naram-Sin was born as a son of Manishtushu. He was thus a nephew of King Rimush and grandson of Sargon and Tashlultum. Naram-Sin's aunt was the High Priestess En-hedu-ana.


Naram-Sin traded with Meluhha (almost certainly corresponding to the Indus Valley civilization), and controlled a large portion of land along the Persian Gulf. He expanded his empire by defeating the King of Magan at the southern end of the Persian Gulf, and conquering the hill tribes to the north in the Taurus Mountains. His famous "Victory Stele" depicts his triumph over Satuni, chief of Lullubi in the Zagros Mountains. The king list gives the length of his reign as 56 years, and at least 20 of his year-names are known, referring to military actions against various places such as Uruk and Subartu. One unknown year was recorded as "the Year when Naram-Sin was victorious against Simurrum in Kirasheniwe, and took prisoner Baba the governor of Simurrum, and Dubul the ensi of Arame".[1] Other year names refer to his construction work on temples in Akkad, Nippur, and Zabala. He also built administrative centers at Nagar and Nineveh.

One Mesopotamian myth has it that the goddess Inanna abandoned the former capital of Akkad following Naram-Sin's plunder of the Ekur (temple of the god Enlil) in Nippur. In his anger, Enlil brought the Gutians down from the hills east of the Tigris, to bring plague, famine and death throughout Mesopotamia. To prevent this destruction, eight of the gods decreed that the city of Akkad should be destroyed to spare the remaining cities. While this story may be mythological, it does suggest that Gutian raids were already beginning during this period.

External video
Victory Stele of Naram-Sin, Smarthistory

Soon after the death of Naram-Sin, the Akkadian Empire came under increasing pressure from Gutian incursions. By around 2124 BC, all Akkad was in the hands of the Gutians. The Gutians remained there for 125 years before being replaced by the Ur III state as the dominant political power.[2][3]

Victory stele

Smaller fragment of Victory Stele of Naram-Sin

Naram-Sin's famous Victory Stele depicts him as a god-king (symbolized by his horned helmet) climbing a mountain above his soldiers, and his enemies, the defeated Lullubi. Although the stele was broken off at the top when it was stolen and carried off by the Elamite forces of Shutruk-Nakhunte, it still strikingly reveals the pride, glory, and divinity of Naram-Sin. The stele seems to break from tradition by using successive diagonal tiers to communicate the story to viewers, however the more traditional horizontal frames are visible on smaller broken pieces. It is six feet and seven inches tall, and made from pink sandstone.[4] The stele was found at Susa, and is now in the Louvre Museum.[5] A similar bas-relief depicting Naram-Sin was found a few miles north-east of Diarbekr, at Pir Hüseyin.

Rock Relief of Naram-Sin

The rock relief lies on the cliff side of Darband-i-Gawr (which means the pass of the pagan). This pass is part of the south-eastern side of the Qara Dagh (also written Kara Dag) mountain range. Qara Dagh is a Turkish term which means the “black mountain.” It is a double range of cretaceous limestone, reaching a height of more than 1,700 meters above sea level.

Naram-Sin Rock Relief at Darband-iGawr

The relief was carved on the surface of the cliff. Therefore, the relief appears convex-concave, from above downward. It is about 3 meters in height. The relief shows a victorious warrior standing on the corpses of two enemies. The warrior wears a rolled up and rounded cap (similar to the ones which were used by the Ur III kings). The cap fits the head and covers the skull from the frontal to the occipital areas. Only the lower parts of the forehead, external ear, and hair behind the ear appear. The face looks to the left side (of the body) and the right eye appears widely open; there is no eyebrow. The nose is small but convex and its tip is pointed. The beard hair is curled and is prominently highlighted (similar to the neo-Assyrian sculptures). Below the lower jaw, the beard extends in curvy lines downwards on the chest wall to the level of the nipples. The warrior wears a beaded necklace and two bracelets. The body above the waist is bare. The muscles of the chest wall, shoulder, and upper arms had a bodybuilder contour. The right arm holds an axe (or mace) while the left one holds a bow. The bow is more or less triangular in shape (not a composite bow, though) and differs from the bow which was depicted on the Victory Stela of Naram-Sin at the Louvre museum in Paris. The warrior wears a knee-length kilt. The waist is narrow and there is a multi-layered belt around the mid-abdomen; one end of the belt hangs down on the right thigh.

The right leg is straight and extended, and its foot presses (not directly) on an enemy corpse. The left leg is flexed at the knee and is lifted off the ground as if the warrior is about to ascend something. The left foot also sits on an enemy corpse. The enemies were depicted much smaller in size when compared with the main warrior figure (similar to the ones seen on the Victory Stela of Naram-Sin). The enemies have ponytails and lie flaccid on the ground. The overall depiction of the enemy corpses is very similar to those seen on the Victory Stela of Naram-Sin, which shows his successful military campaign against the Lullubi and their king Satuni. The Lullubi were tribes living at Zamua area, modern-day Zagros Mountains of the Iraq-Iran border. Some scholars think that this man is Anobanini (or Anu Banini) because of great similarity in the overall depiction of the attitude, clothes, bow, and posture of that king’s relief in Sar-e Pole Zahab (modern-day Western Iran). Another theory suggests that this is a Neo-Sumerian king (from Third Dynasty of Ur); it is well-known that the Neo-Sumerians had campaigned the Lullubi land nine times. Hashim Hama Abdullah, Director of the Sulaymaniyah Museum, and Kamal Rashid, Director of the Sulaymaniyah Antiquities Directorate, said that most likely this man represents a local ruler or king of what is known today as Iraqi Kurdistan. In addition, it seems likely that the relief originally contained some cuneiform inscriptions but they were erased (through weathering or deliberately).[6]


The only known son of Naram-Sin was his successor Shar-Kali-Sharri. Excavations at Tell Mozan (ancient Urkesh) brought to light a sealing of Tar'am-Agade, a previously unknown daughter of Naram-Sin, who was possibly married to an unidentified endan (ruler) of Urkesh.[7]

See also


  1. ^ Year-Names of Naram-Sin of Agade
  2. ^ Babylonian Life and History, by E. A. Wallis Budge
  3. ^ Julian Reade (2000). Mesopotamia. British Museum Press. pp. 67–68.  
  4. ^ Kleiner, Fred (2005). Gardner's Art Through The Ages. Thomson-Wadsworth. p. 41.  
  5. ^ Louvre ( Arts and Architecture). Köln: Könemann.  
  6. ^ Amin, OSM. "Finding the hidden Naram-Sin rock relief in Iraq". Ancient History Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20 March 2015. 
  7. ^ Buccellati, Giorgio; Kelly-Buccellati, Marilyn (2002). "Tar’am-Agade, Daughter of Naram-Sin, at Urkesh" (PDF). In Al-Gailani Werr, Lamia. Of Pots and Plans. Papers on the Archaeology and History of Mesopotamia and Syria presented to David Oates in Honour of his 75th Birthday. London: Nabu. pp. 11–31.  


  • H.W.F. Saggs, The Babylonians, Fourth Printing, 1988, Macmillan Publishers Ltd.
  • J. P. Naab, E. Unger, Die Entdeckung der Stele des Naram-Sin in Pir Hüseyin, Istanbul Asariatika Nesriyati XII (1934)[2].

External links

  • Victory Stele of Naram-Sin
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