Sites & cities that bear the name of Abu Salabikh

Abu Salabikh

Today in : Iraq
First trace of activity : ca. 3,400 B.C.E
Last trace of activity : ca. 21st century B.C.E
Recorded names : أبو صلابيخ, Abū Salābīch, Abū Ṣalābīḫ, Kesh?, Eresh?

Description : The low tells at Abu Salabikh, around 20 km (12 mi) northwest of the site of ancient Nippur in Al-Qādisiyyah Governorate, Iraq mark the site of a small Sumerian city state of the mid third millennium BCE, with cultural connections to the cities of Kish, Mari and Ebla. Its contemporary name is uncertain: perhaps this was Eresh. Kesh was suggested by Thorkild Jacobsen before excavations began. The Euphrates was the city's highway and lifeline; when it shifted its old bed, in the middle third millennium BCE, the city dwindled away. Only eroded traces remain on the site's surface of habitation after the Early Dynastic Period. The site consists of several mounds, the 12 hectare wall enclosed Main (Early Dynastic), the 10 hectare Uruk, the West, and the 8 hectare South. Abu Salabikh was excavated by an American expedition from the Oriental Institute of Chicago led by Donald P. Hansen in 1963 and 1965 for a total of 8 weeks. The expedition found around 500 tablets and fragments, containing some of the earliest ancient literature. The site was a British concern after 1975, under the direction of Nicholas Postgate for the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (1975–89), after which excavations were suspended with the Invasion of Kuwait (1990); "plans to resume fieldwork have now been abandoned in the light of current political conditions" Postgate reports. The city, built on a rectilinear plan in Early Uruk times, revealed a small but important repertory of cuneiform texts on some 500 tablets, of which the originals were stored in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad, and were largely lost when the museum was looted in the early stages of the Second Iraq War; fortunately they had been carefully published. Texts, comparable in date and content with texts from Shuruppak (modern Fara, Iraq) included school texts, literary texts, word lists, and some administrative archives, as well as the Instructions of Shuruppak, a well-known Sumerian "wisdom' text of which the Abu Salabikh tablet is the oldest copy. A list of deities includes the oldest known mention of the Semitic god Baʿal. Postgate's interdisciplinary approach was integrated under the broad aim of describing the daily life of a small Sumerian city, down to the lives of the simplest illiterate inhabitants.

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