1171: Sammu-Ramat

Empress Regnant of Assyria

Born: c.850 BCE, Ancient Babylon (Present-day Iraq)

Died: c.798 BCE, Ancient Babylon (Present-day Iraq)

Also Known As: Semiramas

Reign: c811-c808 BCE or Possibly c809-c792 BCE

Sammu-Ramat was one of the first known women to rule an empire in world history. Because of this fact, her legacy has been twisted and warped through the following millennia. Today, no one knows much for sure about Sammu-Ramat, and what is known is debated.

Sammu-Ramat served as regent for her son Adad Nirari III until he grew old enough to rule on his own. She assumed the position of regent after her husband, the emperor Shamsi-Adad V died. At the time, a woman ruler anywhere in the world was astonishing, but in Assyria it was completely unprecedented. And yet, Sammu-Ramat’s reign was largely successful, to the point an obelisk was placed and inscribed in her honor in the city of Ashur.

Sammu-Ramat is said to have led military campaigns as well as initiate large-scale building projects during her reign, though this has been disputed by some.

Greek Classical Philosophers renamed her Semiramas, the name she is better known as today, and actually respected her—unlike most women from history. According to World History.org, (article linked below):

This last designation, "Semiramis", has been the source of considerable controversy for over a century now, as scholars and historians argue over whether Sammu-Ramat was the inspiration for the myths concerning Semiramis, whether Sammu-Ramat even ruled Assyria, and whether Semiramis ever existed as an actual historical personage.

The debate has been going on for some time and is not likely to be concluded one way or the other in the near future but, still, it seems possible to suggest the likely possibility that the legends of Semiramis were, in fact, inspired by the reign of queen Sammu-Ramat and have their basis, if not in her actual deeds, then at least in the impression she made upon the people of her time.

Badges Earned:

Located In My Personal Library:

National Geographic History Article “Genesis of an Assyrian Legend, Searching for Semiramas” September/October 2017 Edition

The Warrior Queens by Antonia Fraser

When Women Ruled the World by Kara Cooney