King of Battle
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King of Battle

The King of Battle, or ?ar tamri, is an ancient Mesopotamian epic tale of Sargon of Akkad and his campaign against the city of Puruanda in the Anatolian highlands and its king, Nur-Daggal[n 1][1] or Nur-Dagan, in aid of his merchants. It is extant in five manuscripts,[2] two[i 1][i 2] from Amarna in Egypt and six fragments[i 3] of one from the Hittite capital ?attu?a from the middle Babylonian period and one each from Aur[i 4] and Nineveh,[i 5] probably from the Neo-Assyrian period. Of the twenty-three tales composed of the Kings of Akkad, this was one of only three, along with the Birth Legend of Sargon and the Cuthean Legend of Naram-Sin, to continue to circulate in the Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian periods, some 1,500 years after the events they describe.[3] It is thought to have been committed to writing during the first half of the second millennium, perhaps following a lengthy oral tradition, although the circumstances of its composition are hotly debated.[4]

The text

Responding to the grievances of his merchants, Sargon declares his intention to his reluctant warriors to forge a campaign into Anatolia to conquer its principal town Puruanda, whose tyrannical ruler has been oppressing the expatriate Akkadian tradesmen. The soldiers' apprehension was due to their anticipation of the tribulations afforded by the great distance and uncertainty of the venture. He rallies them with promises of victory based on his consultation with the goddess I?tar in her temple during which he falls into a deep sleep to receive her prophecy.[5] The army faces many hardships crossing of the Tigris and in their onward journey. They struggle through mountain passes strewn with impenetrable thickets and great boulders of Lapis Lazuli.[n 2][6]

The god Enlil warns Nur-Dagan of the approaching Sargonic horde but reassures him that he will be safe. He addresses his warriors, telling them that the remoteness of Puruanda has protected it from all other foes in the past and predicting a similar outcome on this occasion, a prediction that is subsequently overturned by Sargon's sudden and complete subjugation of the city. As Sargon is crowned king of Puruanda before the city gate, Nur-Dagan makes a humiliating submission of defeat and declares that Sargon has no equal.

A lengthy time later, some variants:3 years, Sargon prepares to depart Puruanda and return to Akkad. His soldiers protest that they should not leave empty-handed and consequently fell three trees standing at the gate-house.[7] The various manuscripts of the epic show differing narrative details, although their fragmentary state may exaggerate the apparent differences.[8]

Principal publications

  • Ernst F Weidner (1922). Der Zug Sargons von Akkad nach Kleinasien (Boghazköi Studien 6). J. C. Hinrichs'sche.
  • W. G. Lambert (1963). "A New Fragment of the King of Battle". Archiv für Orientforschung. 20: 161-162.
  • Anson F. Rainey (1978). El-Amarna Tablets 359-379, 2nd edition, revised (AOAT 8). Butzon und Bercker. pp. 10-15, 52-53.
  • S. Franke (1989). Das Bild der König von Akkad in ihren Selbstzeugnissen und der Überlieferung (Ph.D. Diss.). University of Hamburg.
  • Shlomo Izre'el (1997). The Amarna Scholarly Tablets. Styx. pp. 66-75, 87-88.
  • Joan Goodnick Westenholz (1997). Legends of the Kings of Akkade. Eisenbrauns. pp. 102-139.


  1. ^ EA 359 Cairo 48396, SR 12223 in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo.
  2. ^ EA 375 BM 134866 in the British Museum, London
  3. ^ Tablet fragments KBo 3.9 (Bo 2400); KBo 3.10 (Bo 7333); KBo 12:1 (110/t); KBo 13.46 (624/u); KBo 22.6 (Bo 68/28) published in CTH 10; and KUB 48.98 (Bo 3715).
  4. ^ VAT 10290 KAV 138 in the Vorderasiatisches Museum Berlin.
  5. ^ K.13228 in the British Museum Kouyunjik collection.


  1. ^ Where the Hittite version, lNu-úr-da-a?-?i, mistakes the GAN in lZALAG-dda-gan for .
  2. ^ NA4.ZA.GÌN.


  1. ^ Martin Worthington (2012). Principles of Akkadian Textual Criticism. De Gruyter. p. 6. quoting Volkert Haas (2006) in Hethitische Literatur p. 68 n. 1.
  2. ^ Oded Tammuz (2004). "Reviewed Work: Legends of the Kings of Akkade: The Texts by Joan Goodnick Westenholz". Israel Exploration Journal. 54 (1): 123-124. JSTOR 27927068.
  3. ^ Seth Richardson (2014). "The First "World Event"". In Isaac Kalimi, Seth Richardson (ed.). Sennacherib at the Gates of Jerusalem: Story, History and Historiography. Brill. p. 488.
  4. ^ Joan Goodnick Westenholz (2010). "Akkadian Heroic Traditions". In David Konstan, Kurt A. Raaflaub (ed.). Epic and History. John Wiley & Sons. pp. 37-39.
  5. ^ Meindert Dikstra (2015). "Prophets, Men of God, Wise Women: Dreams and Prophecies in Hittite Stories". In Bob E.J.H. Becking, Hans Barstad (ed.). Prophecy and Prophets in Stories: Papers Read at the Fifth Meeting of the Edinburgh Prophecy Network, Utrecht, October 2013. Brill. pp. 20-21.
  6. ^ Christoph Bachhuber (2013). "Sumer, Akkad, Ebla and Anatolia". In Harriet Crawford (ed.). The Sumerian World. Routledge. p. 503.
  7. ^ Amir Gilan (2010). "Epic and History in Hittite Anatolia". In David Konstan, Kurt A. Raaflaub (ed.). Epic and History. John Wiley & Sons. p. 54.
  8. ^ Marc Van De Mieroop (1999). Cuneiform Texts and the Writing of History. Routledge. pp. 67-68.

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