frrdtrtads roam from place to place in search for pasture and moving with the season. Semi-nomads graze their small live stock near the fields of the settlements, often trading for goods obtained elsewhere and having all kinds of other interactions. This characteristic is still present in the Near East today. Nomads leave little archeological trace and are illiterate, so not much is known about them by direct means. However, some description does appear in written form: recorded by the Sumerians and later by the Akkadians. Some of the (semi-)nomads, either as individuals or as groups, mix with the sedentary population and become sedentary themselves. In times of political or economical crisis they may do so by force, but they adapt quickly to the current civilization and even to the dominant language. Their increased influence on the society is manifested by a change in type of personal names. Sometimes the names are the only remains of their original language. In their new positions, they often stimulate further cultural development. Akkadians, speaking a Semitic language, may have been present in Mesopotamia since the time the Sumerians arrived, or they may have diffused into the region later. Their culture intermingled and they must have been living peacefully together. On Sumerian clay tablets dated around 2900-2800 BCE found in Fara, Semitic (Akkadian) names are attested for the first time. It concerns the names of kings in the city Kish. Kish is in the north of Babylonia where according to the Sumerian King Lists 'kingship descended again from heaven' after the great Flood. The proper names often contain animal names like zuqiqïpum 'scorpion' and kalbum 'dog'. Kings with Semitic names are the first postdiluvial kings to rule Kish. They started the first historical period called the Early Dynastic Period. A few centuries later the first Akkadian king Sargon of Akkad ruled over an empire that included a large part of Mesopotamia. Apparently Semitic speaking people have lived for centuries amidst the Sumerians and gradually became an integral part of the Sumerian culture. We don't hear much about them in the first part of the 3rd millennium, because the (scholarly) language used in writing is Sumerian.
Mesopotamia has no natural boundaries and is difficult to defend. The influence of neighboring countries is large. Throughout the history of Mesopotamia trade contacts, slow diffusion of foreign tribes and military confrontations have been of great influence.
Neighbors in 3rd millennium
In the east: Elamites
In the west: city of Ebla The discovery in 19.. of the 3rd millennium city Ebla took Assyriologist by surprise. The extend of the Sumerian culture in the 3rd millennium was not known, but not expected to go so far west. Ebla is situated at Tell Mardikh 65 km south of Aleppo in Syria and appeared to be an urban culture in the middle of the 3rd millennium in the far west of Mesopotamia. The site shows impressive archeological remains (royal palace) and has a rich archive of cuneiform tablets which attests a new (western) Semitic language (called Eblaite) different from and even slightly older than Old Akkadian. The Ebla archive is found as a shelved room with ~2100 clay tablets. Subjects range from administration, textile- and metal accounting, tax deliveries, temple offerings, letters, state reports and scribal exercises. Texts and excavations show Ebla to be a complex mixture of (Sumerian) borrowings and local traditions. From ~2600-2350 BCE a good deal of Sumerian literacy and school tradition had been assimilated by Ebla scribes and in addition they used cuneiform for their own language. Ebla's power depended on political hegemony over a local territory with autonomous minor urban centers. Hundreds of villages are named in the archives, mention is made of large (~6700 animals) heards, wool industry, and large quantities of gold and silver. During at least 26 years tribute is paid to Mari...
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