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Akkadian language

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lišānum akkadītum
Native to Assyria and Babylonia
Region Mesopotamia
Extinct 100 AD
Language family
Writing system Sumero-Akkadian cuneiform
Official status
Official language in initially Akkad (central Mesopotamia); lingua franca of the Middle East and Egypt in the late Bronze and early Iron Ages.
Language codes
ISO 639-2 akk
ISO 639-3 akk

Akkadian (llišānum akkadītum) or Assyro-Babylonian[1] was a Semitic language (part of the Afro-Asiatic language family) that was spoken in ancient Iraq. The first-known Semitic language, it used the cuneiform writing system from ancient Sumer.

Akkadian is divided into several varieties based on geography and historical period:[2]

  • Old Akkadian, 2500–1950 BC
  • Old Babylonian/Old Assyrian, 1950–1530 BC
  • Middle Babylonian/Middle Assyrian, 1530–1000 BC
  • Neo-Babylonian/Neo-Assyrian, 1000–600 BC
  • Late Babylonian, 600 BC–100 AD

The earliest known Akkadian inscription was found on a bowl at Ur. It was addressed to a very early pre-Sargonic king of Ur by his queen Gan-saman, who is thought to have been from Akkad.

The Akkadian Empire, established by Sargon of Akkad, introduced the Akkadian language (the "language of Akkad") as a written language. It used Sumerian cuneiform orthography (writing method) for the purpose. During the middle Bronze Age (Old Assyrian and Old Babylonian period), the language displaced Sumerian. Sumerian probably became extinct as a living language by the 18th century BC.