Gilgamesh (c. 2650 BC) - Gilgamesh was the fifth king of the Sumerian city of Uruk. He became known as a demigod with superhuman strength in later legends and tales such as the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Sargon the Great (reigned 2334 - 2279 BC) - Sargon the Great, or Sargon of Akkad, founded the world's first empire, the Akkadian Empire. He conquered many of the Sumerian city-states and united them under one rule.
Naram-Sin (reigned 2254 - 2218 BC) - The Akkadian Empire reached its peak under the kingship of Naram-Sin. He was the first Mesopotamian ruler to claim to be a god. He was also the grandson of Sargon.
Hammurabi (reigned 1792 - 1752 BC) - Hammurabi was the sixth king of Babylon and founded the first Babylonian Empire. He is most famous for establishing a written code of laws called the Hammurabi Code.
Nabopolassar (c. 658 - 605 BC) - Nabopolassar allied with the Medes to overthrow the Assyrian Empire and conquer the city of Nineveh. He then established the second Babylonian Empire and ruled for twenty years.
Nebuchadnezzar II (c 634 - 562 BC) - Nebuchadnezzar II expanded the Babylonian Empire conquering Judah and Jerusalem. He also built the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar is mentioned several times in the Bible as he sent the Jews into exile after conquering them.
Shamshi-Adad I (1813 -1791 BC) - Shamshi-Adad conquered many surrounding city-states in northern Mesopotamia. He was an excellent leader and organizer. He established the first Assyrian Empire.
Tiglath-Pileser III (reigned 745 - 727 BC) - Tiglath-Pileser III introduced many advances to the Assyrian Empire including military and political systems. He established the world's first professional standing army and greatly expanded the Assyrian Empire.
Sennacherib (reigned 705 - 681 BC) - Sennacherib conquered the city of Babylon. He also rebuilt much of the Assyrian city of Nineveh turning it into one of the great cities of ancient history.
Ashurbanipal (reigned 668 - 627 BC) - Ashurbanipal was the last strong king of the Assyrian Empire. He built a massive library in the capital city of Nineveh that contained over 30,000 clay tablets. He ruled Assyria for 42 years, but the empire began to decline after he died.
Cyrus the Great (580 - 530 BC) - Cyrus rose to power and established the Persian Empire (also known as the Achaemenid Empire) when he overthrew the Medes and conquered Babylonia. He believed in human rights and allowed the nations he conquered to worship their own religion. He allowed the exiled Jews to return home to Jerusalem.
Darius I (550 - 486 BC) - Darius I ruled the Persian Empire at its peak. He divided the land into provinces that were ruled by satraps. Darius invaded Greece in the First Persian War where his army was defeated by the Greeks at the Battle of Marathon.
Xerxes I (519 - 465 BC) - Xerxes I was the fourth king of Persia. He returned to Greece in the Second Persian War. He defeated the Spartans at the famous Battle of Thermopylae and then took control of the city of Athens. However, his navy was defeated at the Battle of Salamis and he retreated back to Persia.