The Empires and Kingdoms of Mesopotamia

The historical region of Mesopotamia was located in West Asia, roughly where Iraq, Kuwait, East Syria, and South Turkey are in modern maps. Mesopotamian history is one of the earliest periods we have information about; the empires of Mesopotamia began in 3100 BC, and lasted for over 3000 years before the region eventually collapsed.

Map showing the extent of Mesopotamia

What were the main empires of Mesopotamia?

The main empires of Mesopotamia were the Akkadian Empire, the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian Empire, and the Persian Empire.

What years were these empires in power?

  • Akkadian: 2300-2100 BC
  • Assyrian: 2100-612 BC
  • Babylonian: 612-539 BC
  • Persian: 539 BC – 20hcentury AD

It’s difficult to measure the dates of the Mesopotamian Empires exactly, but these are approximately the starting/ending dates of each Empire based in the Mesopotamian region.

What was the Akkadian Empire like?

The Akkadian Empire was centered around the capital city of Akkad. Despite having a similar culture to the Sumerians that came before them, the Akkadians had a different language and government structure.

Statue Gudea Met

The Akkadian government was divided into many city-states, each of which had its own ruler who controlled the city and surrounding agricultural land. The first ruler of the Akkadian Empire was Sargon the Great, the man who founded it.

His descendants continued to rule the Empire after his death. Most Akkadians were farmers, as was the case in the earlier Sumerian civilization, but people also worked as merchants, priests, craftsmen, soldiers, and fishermen. The Akkadian Empire depended a lot on agriculture and was the first empire in the world to make effective use of irrigation.

What was the Assyrian Empire like?

The Assyrian Empire rose and fell on multiple occasions throughout history. The First Rise of the Assyrian Empire occurred when the Akkadian Empire fell. During the First Rise, the leader of the Assyrian Empire was King Shamshi-Adad.

Having a strong military was very important to the Assyrians. The Assyrian Empire had a war-based society, and children were raised from a young age to be soldiers.

One of the Nimrud ivories shows a lion eating a man

Their military was notable for its use of modern technology; in particular, chariots and iron weapons. It was also one of the first in the world to have a dedicated cavalry unit. The Assyrian Empire is also credited with the construction and development of the world’s greatest historical library, the Library of Nineveh.

What was the Babylonian Empire like?

After the fall of the Akkadian Empire, the Babylonian Empire came to power. One of the major achievements of the Babylonian Empire was the establishment of the world’s first written code of law. While law had always existed, the Babylonian Empire was the first to set theirs in stone.

The Babylonian code of law was established by King Hammurabi. Because of this, it was called the Code of Hammurabi. Much of what we know about Babylon comes from information contained in this code.

However, the biggest accomplishment of the Babylonian Empire was undoubtedly the design and creation of the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Though historians are unsure whether the gardens ever existed, they are still one of the Seven Ancient Wonders of the World.

What was the Persian Empire like?

The generally accepted “Persian Empire” lasted from the 6th century BC to the 20th century AD – roughly 2600 years! However, when discussing the Persian Empire, it’s usually the First Persian Empire that we talk about.

This empire is sometimes called the Achaemenid Empire. The First Persian Empire lasted only 180 years, from 550-330 BC. The first ruler of the Persian Empire was Cyrus the Great.

Unusually, Cyrus the Great was famous for his mercy rather than his cruelty; in this way, he was very different from the Kings of Assyria who had come before him. Under Cyrus the Great, one of the world’s first human rights charters was published. The Achaemenid Empire was famed for its architectural achievements.

In terms of what daily life in the Persian Empire was like, most peasants spent their days working; the most common profession in the Empire was farming. However, both men and women could hold high positions in the Persian government, and generally had the same employment opportunities as each other.

Facts about The Empires of Mesopotamia:

  • The historical region of Mesopotamia was located in West Asia, roughly where Iraq, Kuwait, East Syria, and South Turkey are in modern maps.
  • The first Mesopotamian empire began in 3100 BC.
  • The main empires of Mesopotamia were the Akkadian Empire, the Assyrian Empire, the Babylonian Empire, and the Persian Empire.
  • The Akkadian Empire ruled from 2300-2100 BC.
  • The Assyrian Empire ruled from 2100-612 BC.
  • The Babylonian Empire ruled from 612-539 BC.
  • The Persian Empire ruled from 539 BC – 20hcentury AD.
  • In all four empires, the most common job was farming.
  • All four empires had strong militaries, and worshipped the same gods.


  1. Where was Mesopotamia located?

– West Asia.

  1. What were the four empires of Mesopotamia?

– Akkadian, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian.

  1. Which empire depended the most on its military?

– Assyrian.

  1. Which empire oversaw the establishment of the “Code of Hammurabi?”

– Babylonian.

  1. What was Cyrus the Great famed for, and what piece of evidence proves this?

– His mercy. The human rights charter passed during his reign.