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Adab (𒌓𒉣𒆠 Adab ki) was occupied from at least 3000 BCE. It was initially probably a city or city state, partly under the city of Ur. During the kingship of Lugal-Anne-Mundu, around 2350 BCE, Adab seems to have conquered all of Mesopotamia and he was "King of the four quarters of the world". Soon after, Adab was reduced back to a city in larger empires (first Mari, then the Akkadian Empire, and later the Babylonian Empire) .


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The main god of Adab was Ninhursag (or Damgalnuna or Ninmah or in Akkadian Belit-ili). She was the goddess of the mountain/hills/stony ground, the Hursag (𒉺𒂅 ḪUR.SAĜ) and was also the goddess of the city of Kish. Ninhursag was one of the seven great deities of Sumeria.

In the legend of Enki and Ninhursag, Ninhursag is the consort of Enki. Numerous Sumerian deities descend from their couplings.
According to some, Ninhursag might be seen as the same goddess as Hathor in Egypt, and they are both depicted with a symbol ressembling the greek letter Omega Ω (possibly a womb symbol).

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We don't know much about the kings of Adab. We know that Adab existed long before 2550 BCE, but we don't have the leaders/kings from this period. At around 2550 BCE, we had the kings Nin-kisalsi and his son Me-durba, both vassals of the city of Ur. They are followed by Lugal-Anne-Mundu (Sumerian: 𒈗𒀭𒉌𒈬𒌦𒆕) around 2350 BCE. He built a short-lived empire, but when he died, Adab came under the vassalage of Mari and then the Akkadian empire.

See a complete list of kings of Adab.

Lugal-Anne-Mundu is mentioned in the Sumerian King List:

"In Ur, Nanni was king, n years he ruled; Mes-kiag-Nanna, son of Nanni, n years he ruled; (...) Ur with weapons was struck down; the kingship to Adab was carried off. In Adab Lugal-ane-mundu was king, n years he ruled; one king, the years: 90 he ruled; Adab with weapons was stuck down; the kingship to Mari was carried off."

According to an inscription attributed to him, Lugal-Anne-Mundu subjugated the "Four Quarters of the world" — (i.e. the full Fertile Crescent region, from the Mediterranean to the Zagros Mountains):
"For Nintu, the mother of the nation, queen for the temple, great spouse of Enlil, his beloved lady— I, Lugalanamundu, the strong man, who provides for Nippur, king of Adab and king of the four world quarters (...) secured tribute upon the people of all the lands, made the people of all the lands lie (contentedly) in riverine meadows (...) exercised kingship over the whole earth (...) The Cedar Mountain, Elam, Marḫaši, Gutium, ... Subartu, Amurru, Sutium, and the Mountain(?) of Eanna in their ... they sat on golden thrones. Golden ... I placed in their hands, and golden ... I placed in their laps. Their ... in Adab into my ... I having made come, and ... I having made come before me..."

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The Ox drivers from Adab

This is one of the oldest comic stories known:

'Three ox drivers from Adab were thirsty: one owned the ox, the other owned the cow and the other owned the wagon's load.
The owner of the ox refused to get water because he feared his ox would be eaten by a lion; the owner of the cow refused because he thought his cow might wander off into the desert; the owner of the wagon refused because he feared his load would be stolen.
So they all went. In their absence the ox made love to the cow which gave birth to a calf which ate the wagon's load. Problem: Who owns the calf?'

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Adab today

The ancient city of Adab is located by the current city of Bismāyah in Iraq. Before archeologists re-discovered the city, its only presence was known from The Code of Hammurabi, the steele of laws by king Hammurabi.

The first explorations around Bismayah started in 1885. The main excavations of Bismāyah were done in 1903-04 by the American archeologist Edgar James Banks.

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