Gilgamesh (c. 2650 BC) – Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, a Sumerian city, who lived around 2650 BC. In later myths and stories, including the Epic of Gilgamesh, he came to be recognized as a demigod with superhuman strength.
Empire of the Akkad
Sargon the Great (reigned 2334 – 2279 BC) – The Akkadian Empire was founded by Sargon the Great, also known as Sargon of Akkad, who ruled from 2334 to 2279 BC. He seized control of numerous Sumerian city-states and brought them all under his reign.
Naram-Sin (reigned 2254 – 2218 BC) – The Akkadian Empire reached its pinnacle during the rule of Naram-Sin (reigned 2254–2218 BC). He was the first king of Mesopotamia to make a god claim. He was also Sargon’s grandson.
Hammurabi (reigned 1792 – 1752 BC) – The first Babylonian Empire was established by Hammurabi, who ruled from 1792 to 1752 BC. Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylon. He is well known for creating the Hammurabi Code, a set of written rules.
Nabopolassar (c. 658–605 BC) joined forces with the Medes to depose the Assyrian Empire and take control of the city of Nineveh. Then, for the next twenty years, he controlled the second Babylonian Empire.
Nebuchadnezzar II (c 634 – 562 BC) – Nebuchadnezzar II enlarged the Babylonian Empire by capturing Jerusalem and Judah (c. 634–562 BC). He also constructed Babylon’s renowned Hanging Gardens. The Bible makes numerous references to Nebuchadnezzar because, after defeating the Jews, he exiled them.
Shamshi-Adad I (ca. 1813 – 791) Several neighboring city-states in northern Mesopotamia were subjugated by Shamshi-Adad. He was a great organizer and leader. He founded the initial Assyrian Empire.
Tiglath-Pileser III (reigned 745–727 BC): Tiglath-Pileser III made numerous improvements to the Assyrian Empire’s political and military structures. He considerably increased the size of the Assyrian Empire and created the first standing professional army in history.
Sennacherib (reigned 705 – 681 BC) – Babylon was taken over by Sennacherib, who ruled from 705 until 681 BC. He also substantially rebuilt Nineveh, an ancient Assyrian city, making it one of the great cities of antiquity.
Ashurbanipal (reigned 668 – 627 BC) – Ashurbanipal was the last powerful ruler of the Assyrian Empire, ruling from 668 to 627 BC. In the capital of Nineveh, he constructed a vast library that had more than 30,000 clay tablets. He ruled Assyria for 42 years, but after his passing, the empire started to crumble.
Cyrus the Great (580–530 BC), who destroyed the Medes and invaded Babylonia, rose to power and founded the Persian Empire (also known as the Achaemenid Empire). He supported human rights and let the people of the countries he conquered practice their own religions. He consented to the exiled Jews going back to Jerusalem.
Darius I (550 – 486 BC) – During its height, the Persian Empire was ruled by Darius I (550–486 BC). He created provinces, each of which had a satrap in charge. During the First Persian War, Darius invaded Greece. At the Battle of Marathon, the Greeks routed his army.
Xerxes I (519 – 465 BC) – The fourth monarch of Persia was Xerxes I, who ruled from 519 until 465 BC. During the Second Persian War, he went back to Greece. After winning the renowned Battle of Thermopylae against the Spartans, he seized control of Athens. But at the Battle of Salamis, his navy was routed, and he fled back to Persia.