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Bismaya (ancient: Adab)

*** = looters on site at last inspection

Extreme southern Wasit Governorate. On an ancient branch of the Euphrates, 25 miles southeast of Nippur, north of Umma and Girsu

Dates: Early Dynastic- Ur III (2700-2000 BC)

Adab, an important early Sumerian city, site of one post-dilluvian [after the Great Flood or "Deluge"] dynasty, according to the Sumerian King List, was excavated in the early years of the 20th century by Edgar Banks, unfortunately before modern techniques of excavation, analsis and recording were available. Therefore much information has been lost.

The city seems to have been part of a league or alliance of Sumerian cities, according to city seal impressions from Ur and very early texts from Shurrupak, which mention large numbers of workers or soldiers from Adab, Umma, Lagash and Uruk—for cooperative building or defensive purposes probably. Other texts list lands held by Adab, Lagash and Umma. A text from Zabalam mentions temple land alottments to the rulers of Nippur and Adab. A very realistically carved head in alabaster with inlaid eyes from the Akkadian periodm was discovered at the site and is now at the University of Chicago's Oriental Institute.

Fieldwork: Banks, American, 1903-04.

Site Assessment. Looting, illicit diggers seen—a double tragedy, as the Banks excavation and records are still incomplete. The extent of site looting at Bismaya as of May 21, 2003 was recorded during a helicopter tour of the site by Professor MacGuire Gibson (University of Chicago) and Colonel John Kessel (US Army):
"We flew from Baghdad airport south to Diwaniyyah, then east to Nippur ... We flew south over three other small sites that had also been dug illicitly (no one at work), until we came to Adab (modern Tell Bismaya). We did not land, but circled several times. More than 200 men were at work, digging all over the site, which has obviously been worked on for some years. There were at least four vehicles on this site."



  31° 56' 49.2000"
  31.947º N
  45° 58' 8.4001"
  45.969° E

GoogleEarth satellite view
of Bismaya (Adab) (external