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The history of ancient civilizations in Mesopotamia has been a complex one, with several empires spanning a couple of millennia. Were the people from latter empires, say Neo-Assyrian or Achaemenid Empires aware of the existence of earlier empires, say Akkadian or Babylonian Empires?

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    Nope, they thought those cities had been built by aliens. May 23, 2015 at 16:40
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    @TylerDurden Of course I didn't mean existence of cities or areas. I meant the regional expanse and the distinct cultural elements of these empires.
    – taninamdar
    May 23, 2015 at 16:45

2 Answers 2

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The Babylonians and Assyrians had several versions of a king list, at least one of which enumerated the kings from the Old Babylonian period down to the Neo-Assyrian period. There is also a much older Sumerian king list, copies of which were discovered in Neo-Assyrian sites, so it is evident that these texts were still being copied and read many centuries after the kings listed in them. So yes, the Neo-Assyrian and late Babylonian literati were very well aware of ancient kingdoms.

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They were well aware of earlier empires, and many Kings of the subsequent empires would intentionally style themselves as the 'rightful successors' to the previous ones, by taking the names of earlier monarchs(eg. Sargon), or using many of the same titles(eg. King of the Four Quarters).

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    This answer would benefit from sources for all non-trivial assertions.
    – MCW
    Oct 27, 2016 at 8:49
  • Quick wikipedia search turned up en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_kings_of_Babylon with e.g. the founder of the Achaemenid Empire, Cyrus the great, which mentions his titles included him being the King of Babylon, Sumer, and Akkad. Babylon is probably not relevant here since it's probable that it refers to his own Neo-Babylonian empire or just the city, but Sumer and Akkad would definitely be relevant. The source for the titles is the Cyrus the Great cylinder.
    – Rundil
    Oct 27, 2016 at 11:10
  • As to the "why", styling yourself with titles that included those of previous rulers of an area is a way to claim a portion of their prestige and increase your own legitimacy as a ruler, even if you took the lands by force. Compare e.g. Ottoman sultans also claiming the titles of Caliph of Islam - afaik they just claimed it starting in the 14th century, even though there were Abbasid caliphs in Cairo until 1517, but it definitely gave them some extra status after that - and especially their claim of Caesar of the Roman Empire, which they made basically purely due to conquering Constantinople.
    – Rundil
    Oct 27, 2016 at 11:17

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