Toby Anderson
What was Sargon's name?
Wed Apr 25, 2018 23:29

Hello Joe,

You wrote:
“Sin-aḫḫe-eriba did name his father as Šarru-ukin in one known inscription, BM 99178 - See page 194 of Eckart Frahm’s “Einleitung in die Sanherib Inschriften” “

I can’t read German.

This inscription is not without controversy.

First, it’s not certain who wrote ‘Sargon’s’ name in this inscription. BM 99178 is called inscription ‘No 135’ in ‘Royal Inscriptions of Sennacherib’ by K. Grayson, whose footnote for no. 163 states that Sargon’s name was restored in ‘no. 135’. In the footnote for no.135, Grayson states:

“ “Sargon (II)”: How Sargon’s name got written here is not certain. Sennacherib very rarely names his father in his inscriptions. Text no. 163, on inscription reminesent of the so-called ‘sin of Sargon’ text (See Tadmor, Landsberer, and Parpola, SAAB3[1989] PP.3-52, AND Levingston, SAA3 pp 77-79 no 33), is the only other known official inscription of Sennacherib mentioning his father by name. Since the tablet was probably inscribed in the reign of Esarhadden or Ashurbanipal, Sargon’s name may have been written here, for example as LUGAL-GI.NA, LUGAL-GIN, mLUGAL-GIN, mMAN-GI.NA, or mMAN-GIN”.

Secondly, Sargon’s name has several renditions according to several sources like Wiki which states:

“The names cuneiform spelling is variantly LUGAL-U-KIN, SAR-RU-GIN, SARRU-KI-IN, SAR-RU-UM-KI-IN. In late assyrian references, the name is mostly spelled as LUGAL-GI.NA or LUGAL-GIN.”

Thirdly. Several sources, both recent and long past, indicate that Sargon’s name is his ‘throne name’, not his birth name. I know this isn’t totally unique, however, it is NOT the norm. As such, it is possible that some of the records attributed to someone with a ‘non-throne, birth name’ might be Sargon. ...As Josette Elayi states: “if this hypothesis is correct, it is unclear what his original name was." (p.15 'Sargon II, King of Assyria'). Consider:

"Sargon II seemed to enjoy playing with his name’s meaning, and as he was convinced that his name reflected his royal role, he probably chose his name as a throne name because he emulated the famous Sargon of Akkad, the king par excellence.fn16 ... "Sargon II was primarily a warrior king who personally led numerous military campaigns. He was a megalomaniac conqueror who dreamed of conquering the world in the footsteps of his distant predecessor Sargon ofAkkad. He decorated himself with titles signifying that he had reached his goal: “king of the universe” (šŕr kiššati), “king of the four quarters (of the world)” (šŕr kib-rāt arbaʾi). He always put forward his greatness and power: “the great king” (šarru rabű), “the mighty king” (šarru dannu)."
fn16. 16. See, e.g., Albert Kirk Grayson, “The Empire of Sargon of Akkad,” AfO 25 (1974–1977): 56–64; Brian Lewis, The Sargon Legend: A Study of the Akkadian Text and the Tale of the Hero Who Was Exposed at Birth, DASOR 4 (Cambridge: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1980); Jerrold S. Cooper and Wolfgang Heimpel, “The Sumerian Sargon Legend,” JAOS 103 (1984): 67–82; Westenholz, Legends of the Kings of Akkade; May, “Administrative and Other Reforms,” 79–80 "
p.14,16 'Sargon II, King of Assyria' by Josette Elayi along with numerous editors including the famous British Israel Finkelstein.

Fourthly, inasmuch as a whole book was written regarding Sargon’s name, it should be obvious that there are some issues with it. As stated above, sometimes the cuneiform has ‘SAR’ in the first root, other times it is ‘LUGAL’. Both, in their etymologies, mean ‘king’. Hence, the name Sargon, was not his birth name but rather, like an adopted title. Sar (King) Gon.

“"The name chosen, meaning that the king is legitimate, could be taken as a sign that both men were usurpers. Sargon of Akkad seems to have seized power from his master Ur-Zababa, governor (ENSÍ) of Kish, while Sargon II appears to have come to the throne during a rebellion of the citizens of Assur against the king Shalmaneser V. .... In any case, the legendary tradition of Sargon of Akkad was still sufficiently alive to encourage Sargon II to adopt his name as a throne name following his prestigious model. However, if this hypothesis is correct, it is unclear what his original name was."
p.15 'Sargon II, King of Assyria' by Josette Elayi along with numerous editors including the famous British Israel Finkelstein.

“Sharru-kinin means ‘true/legitamite king’, the assumption has been made that only ruling monarhs could use it therefore Sargon must have adapted it as a (false) declaration of legitamacy when he usurped the throne. The discovery of an official with this name during the reign of Sargon’s grandson, Asherbanipal coplicates the issue further. Although it is still possible that Sargon adopted a throne name.”
p.58-61, Sarah Melville ‘The Campaigns of Sargon II, King of Assyria, 721–705 ...’

You wrote:

“ Here Aššur-aḫu-iddina calls himself “son (DUMU) of Sin-aḫḫe-eriba, king of the land of Aššur, son (DUMU) of Šarru-ukin, king of the land of Aššur”. “

K.Grayson has
“The palace of Esarhaddon.... son ofSennacherib, king of Assyria, descendant of Sargon (II), king of Assyria,”

“Descendent’ here could be ‘son’, ‘grandson’, or even referring the Sargon the Great. Consider the rest of the titalary:

“the king who with thehelp of the gods Aššur, Sîn, Šamaš, Nabű, Marduk, Ištar of Nineveh, (and) Ištar of Arbela, (i 10) thegreat gods, his lords, marched from the rising sun to the setting sun and had no equal (therein);”
Here Esarhaddon seems to trace back the lineage of the ‘gods’ back in time. It could be that Esarhaddan is tracing his decendancy back to the the earliest Sargon.


  • Assyrian Babylonian DatesJoe Baker, Sun Apr 15 18:54
    Hi Toby I have inserted a “corrected” version of your count of reigns 722bc Sargon 17? years 17 Šarru-ukin 705bc Sennacherib 24? years 24 Sin-aḫḫe-eriba 681bc Essarhaddon 12/13 years 12... more
    • What was Sargon's name? — Toby Anderson, Wed Apr 25 23:29
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