Puzrish-Dagan / Drehem shown within Iraq

Al-Qadisiyyah Governorate
32°3'29.34544 N 45°17'20.44158 E
archaeological site, human settlement
10 hectare, 15 hectare
8.5 metre
Site notes
Excavation dates
Ali Ubeid Shalkam

Puzrish-Dagan (modern Drehem) is an important archaeological site in Al-Qadisiyyah Governorate (Iraq). It is best-known for the thousands of clay tablets that are known to have come from the site through looting during the early twentieth century.

History of research :

Puzrish-Dagan came first to the attention of scholars when clay tablets coming from the site started to appear on the antiquities market in 1909-1910. Based on information from the antiquities traders who sold the tablets, Puzrish-Dagan could be identied with modern Drehem in Iraq. Since then, some 12,000 tablets alledged to have come from the site have been published. The objects are scattered across numerous collections, for example those of the Royal Ontario Museum and the Oriental Institute and the Iraq Museum. The site was surveyed by Robert McCormick Adams as part of his important archaeological work in the region. Iraqi archaeologists excavated the site in 2007 under the direction of Ali Ubeid Shalkam. The Iraqi-Italian QADIS-project surveyed the site in 2016. The Oriental Institute has received permission to start new excavations at the site as part of their renewed work at the nearby site of Nippur and carried out a preliminary survey in 2019.

The site and its environment :

Puzrish-Dagan is located some 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) southeast of Nippur, of which it has sometimes been called a suburb. The site consists of two areas; a northern and a southern mound. The northern mound measures 380 by 240 by 4 metres (1,247 by 787 by 13 ft) for a total area of 10 hectares (25 acres). The southern mound is slightly larger: it measures 560 by 275 metres (1,837 by 902 ft), is 8.5 metres (28 ft) high and occupies an area of 15 hectares (37 acres). Parts of the site are now obscured by modern agricultural fields and several irrigation canals cut through it. The mound has been described as a "beehive" due to the illegal looting taking place since the early 1900s.

Based on the site morphology, the southern mound possibly contains a ziggurat. Both mounds probably contain large buildings over 100 metres (330 ft) in length. Traces of the walls are still visible on the surface and the regularity of these traces suggests that the buildings were planned and built within a short period of time. The QADIS-survey has documented possible traces of a city wall, a large temple complex next to the ziggurat, ancient canals that ran alongside and through the settlement, as well as a harbor.

Occupation history :

Traces of the Early Dynastic, Akkadian and Ur III periods have been found at the site according to a 1967 publication of the Iraqi Directorate General of antiquities. The QADIS-survey found sherds dating to the Middle Uruk period and confirmed that the Ur III period was probably the most important settlement level at Drehem. Evidence for the Isin-Larsa as well as the Parthian and/or Sasanian periods has also been found. The thousands of texts coming from the site all date to the Ur III period. In the absence of excavations these texts from provide the most information on the nature of the settlement at Drehem. Puzrish-Dagan was founded by king Shulgi as an important administrative center in the bala tax system of the Ur III period. Witnessed by thousands of cuneiform tablets, livestock (cattle, sheep, and goats) of the state was centralized at Drehem and subsequently redistributed to temples, its officials and royal palaces. The temples of nearby Nippur were the main destinations of the livestock.

Source :