The First Emperors

The First Emperors

Quick portraits of two of the ancient world’s earliest recorded empire-builders, Narmer/Menes of Upper Egypt and Sargon of Akkad. Narmer was the guy who unified all the tribes of Egypt under the so-called First Dynasty of the Pharaonic period, whereas Sargon of Akkad brought all of Mesopotamia and surrounding regions of the Middle East under his sway. Together they were among the first rulers recorded in history to have established extensive nation-states linking together what were once competing tribes or city-states.

Narmer and Sargon were not contemporaries, and I don’t think anyone knows if either would have been aware of the other. But I like to imagine that Sargon saw Narmer’s Egyptian empire as an inspiration for his own Mesopotamian ambitions and sought to bring about the same order and unity in the Fertile Crescent that Narmer brought to the Nile Valley. Maybe we will never know if that was the case at all…


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