Before the decipherment of cuneiform in the 19th century, the city was known only from a single reference in Genesis 10:10 where it is written אַכַּד ( 'Akkad), rendered in the KJV as Accad. The name is given in a list of cities of Nimrod in Sumer (Shinar).
Sallaberger and Westenholz (1999) cite the number of 160 known mentions of the city in the extant cuneiform corpus, in sources ranging in date from the Old Akkadian period itself down to the Neo-Babylonian period. The name is spelled logographically as URIKI, or phonetically as a-ga-dèKI, variously transcribed into English as Akkad, Akkade or Agade.
The etymology of the name is unclear, but not of Akkadian (Semitic) origin. Various suggestions have proposed Sumerian, Hurrian or Lullubean etymologies.
The non-Akkadian origin of the city's name suggests that the site may have already been occupied in pre-Sargonic times, as also suggested by the mentioning of the city in one pre-Sargonic year-name.
The inscription on the Bassetki Statue records that the inhabitants of Akkad built a temple for Naram-Sin after he had crushed a revolt against his rule.
The main goddess of Akkad was Ishtar-Astarte (Inanna), who was called ‘Aštar-annunîtum or "Warlike Ishtar". Her husband
Ilaba was also revered in Akkad. Ishtar and Ilaba were later worshipped at Sippar in the Old Babylonian period, possibly because Akkad itself had been destroyed by that time. The city was certainly in ruins by the mid-first millennium BC.