Bismaya: Recovering the Lost City of Adab


Wilson, Karen, Bismaya: Recovering the Lost City of Adab (Oriental Institute of the University of Chicago, 2012), pp. xxx + 194.
Bismaya: Recovering the Lost City of Adab


With contributions by Jacob Lauinger, Monica Louise Philips, Benjamin Studevent-Hickman, and Aage Westenholz

An expedition from the University of Chicago excavted the site of Bismaya (ancient Adab) from December 24, 1903, until late June 1905. The excavations were directed first by Edgar J. Banks and then, briefly, by Victor S. Persons. Over 1,000 artifacts, many of them early cuneiform documents, were sent to Chicago, where they are now housed in the Oriental Institute Museum.

The results of the Bismaya excavations were never properly published, and most of the material was never published at all. Banks wrote a lively and highly readable popular account, Bismaya, or the Lost City of Adab, that appeared in 1912 and gave the impression that his field methods were considerably less than satisfactory. However, that was not the case. Banks kept a careful field diary, complete with highly accurate sketches, and sent detailed weekly reports, lavishly illustrated with his own drawings, back to Chicago. These materials show that he exacted a mid-third-millennium B.B. temple and discovered some of the world's first historical inscriptions incised on stone vessels dedicated in that structure. He also uncovered residences of the late Early Dynastic period, two Akkadian administrative centers, and a palace of the Isin Larsa/Old Babylonia period.

This monograph presents this large and significant corpus of unpublished material and includes analyses of stratigraphy, architecture, sculpture, cylinder seals, metalwork, and pottery, and discussions of chronology, the succession of the first kings of Adab, and administrative practices during the third millennium B.C.

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ISBN: 978-1-885923-63-9
Last updated on 12/21/2017