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(or Bismya), Wasit Governorate, Iraq) was an ancient Sumerian city between Telloh and Nippur.
Adab was occupied from at least the Early Dynastic period, thru the Akkadian Empire
and into the empire of Ur III. While no later archaeological evidence was found at Bismaya,
the excavations there were brief and there were later epigraphic references to Adab such as in
the Code of Hammurabi.
One king of Adab, Lugal-Anne-Mundu, is listed
in the Sumerian King List and is mentioned in a later inscription. A king of Kish, Mesilim, appears to have ruled at Adab, based on inscriptions found at Bismaya. Several governors of the city under Ur III are also known. Lastly, a marble statue found at Bismaya was inscribed with the name of a king of Adab which has been variously translated as Lugal-daudu, Da-udu, Lugaldalu, and Esar.
According to Sumerian text Descent to the Underworld, there was a
temple of Inanna named E-shar at Adab. Brick stamps, found by Banks during his excavation of Adab state that the Akkadian ruler Naram-Suen built a
temple to Inanna at Adab, but the temple was not found during the dig
and is not known for certain to be E-shar.
A group of ruin mounds are what remains of the ancient city. The mounds are about 1.5 km (1 mile) long and two miles (3 km) wide, consisting of a number of low ridges, nowhere exceeding 12 m (40 ft) in height, lying in the Jezireh, somewhat nearer to the Tigris than the Euphrates, about a day's journey to the south-east of Nippur.
Initial excavations of the site of Bismaya were by William Hayes Ward of
the Wolfe Expedition in 1885 and by John Punnett Peters of the University of Pennsylvania in 1889.
Excavations conducted there for six months, from Christmas of 1903 to June 1904, for the University of Chicago, by Dr. Edgar James Banks, proved that these mounds covered the site of the ancient city of Adab (Ud-Nun), hitherto known only from the Sumerian king list and a brief mention of its name in the introduction to the Hammurabi Code (c. 2250 B.C.). The city was divided into two parts by a canal, on an island in which stood the temple, E-mach, with a ziggurat, or stepped tower. It was evidently once a city of considerable importance, but deserted at a very early period, since the ruins found close to the surface of the mounds belong to Shulgi and Ur-Nammu, kings of the Third Dynasty of Ur in the latter part of the third millennium B.C, based on inscribed bricks excavated at Bismaya. Immediately below these, as at Nippur, were found artifacts dating to the reign of Naram-Suen and Sargon of Akkad, ca. 2300 BC. Below these there were still 10.5m (35 ft) of stratified remains, constituting seven-eighths of the total depth of the ruins. Besides the remains of buildings, walls and graves, Dr. Banks discovered a large number of inscribed clay tablets of a very early period, bronze and stone tablets, bronze implements and the like. But the two most notable discoveries were a complete statue in white marble, apparently the earliest yet found in Mesopotamia, now in the museum in Constantinople, bearing the inscription,
translated by Banks as "E-mach, King Da-udu, King of, Ud-Nun";
and a temple refuse heap, consisting of great quantities of fragments of vases in marble, alabaster, onyx, porphyry and granite, some of which were inscribed, and others engraved and inlaid with ivory and precious stones.
Of the Adab tablets that ended up at the University of Chicago, sponsor of the
excavations, all have been published and also made available in digital form
online. Of the tablets sold piecemeal
to various owners, a few have also made their way into publication.
There is a Sumerian comic tale of the Three Ox-drivers from Adab
*Edgar James Banks, The Bismya Temple, The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 29-34, Oct. 1905
- D. D. Luckenbill, Two Inscriptions of Mesilim, King of Kish, The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp. 219-223, Apr. 1914
- Edgar James Banks, The Oldest Statue in the World, The American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, Vol. 21, No. 1, pp. 57-59, Oct. 1904
See also*Cities of the Ancient Near East
External links*Three Ox-drivers from Adab
- Recent article on Edgar James Banks in "World and I"
- Digital images and Transliterations of 280 Adab tablets at University of Chicago
- NY Times note on the Bismaya excavations dated 1904
- Bismaya "re-excavation" project being funded by Shelby White - Leon Levy Program
[sites in Iraq]