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Tell Asmar (Iraq)


Alabaster Figurine from Tell Asmar 2750-2600 BC

Alabaster Figurine from Tell Asmar 2750-2600 BC


Tell Asmar is an ancient mound located in the Diyala Plain of Iraq. The enormous tell contains archaeological evidence of continuous occupation between the late fourth and early second millennia BC. Tell Asmar has an important Early Dynastic period [3000-2350 BC) occupation, and is believed to have been the provincial capital of Eshnunna during the Ur and Babylonia period (2065-1762 BC) of Mesopotamia.

The site includes mud brick architectural remains of residential structures, palaces, and numerous temples, such as the Abu Temple and Square Temple. Deep beneath the floor of the Square temple (Early Dynastic) was discovered the Asmar Sculpture Hoard, a cache of 12 carved statues, standing men and women with large eyes, upturned faces and hands clasped.

Tell Asmar was part of extensive excavations between 1930 and 1936 by the Oriental Institute in Diyala which defined the Early Dynastic period of Mesopotamia. About 25% of Tell Asmar (including an area of some 70,000 square meters) was excavated by a team led by Henri Frankfort. Laboratory analysis continues, under the leadership of McGuire Gibson as the Diyala Project, which will be a complete digital archive of the artifacts.


Dimand, Maurice S. 1945. A Sumerian Sculpture of the Third Millennium B.C.. The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin, New Series 3(10):253-256.

Evans, Jean M. 2007 The Square Temple at Tell Asmar and the Construction of Early Dynastic Mesopotamia, ca. 2900-2350 B.C.E. American Journal of Archaeology 111(4):599-632. Free download

Gibson, McGuire 1982 A Re-Evaluation of the Akkad Period in the Diyala Region on the Basis of Recent Excavations at Nippur and in the Hamrin. American Journal of Archaeology 86(4):531-538.

This glossary entry is part of the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Also Known As: Eshnunna, Asmar
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