One Campaign, Many Opinions
The history of the interpretation of the tablet began, as mentioned above, in 1912 with Thureau-Dangin. Thureau-Dangin posited, based on the reference of the fifth region being by sea and his placement of Uajais, that Sargon marched all the way around Lake Urmia and then north west to Lake Van. Almost immediately this caused discussion. German archaeologist and ancient historian Carl Friedrich Lehmann-Haupt, well versed in the area under consideration, accepted the first half of Thureau-Dangin’s route, but disagreed on his assertion that Sargon travelled to Lake Van, believing instead that he merely circumvented Lake Urmia.
This disagreement led to the establishment of two main schools of thought: 1) the long route and 2) the short route. As greater excavation has taken place in the area post-World War II, further studies have reaffirmed Lehman-Haupt’s route around Lake Urmia only, such as those conducted by M. van Loon, A. A. Cilingiroglu, J. E. Reade, and more recently P. Zimansky. With such developments, a third proposal came to the fore, put forth by the likes of Levine and Muscarella: based on their interpretation of the location of the city of Parsua, this route does not reach the eastern shore of Lake Urmia at all, but instead heads much further south, turns north to reach the southern and western shores of the lake, before turning around to raid Uajais and Musasir.
While these interpretations could well be described here in detail (as indeed they have been in the past), they are far more easily traced on a map. The interactive map on the next page displayed the three mains schools of thought on Sargon’s route, with both Lehmann-Haupt’s longer and Zimansky’s tighter circumvention of Lake Urmia included. The authors used for the map were selected as an example of each school of thought, as there are too many with slight variations on each route to show all individual studies.
A word on methodology. The routes have been constructed based on both written and visual sources, using modern topological mapping. Every effort has been taken to accurately trace each route, but it is inevitable that they will not be perfect. The orange circles represent landmarks that are not contested. Where there is disagreement between authors on the location of certain cities, separate links for each author have been created in the text, with a description of the rationale behind each decision.