Edgar James Banks (1866–1945) began his career as an American consul to the Ottoman empire and spent the next 15 years traveling extensively throughout the Middle East as an archaeologist and an explorer. On a quest to find Noah’s Ark, Banks became the first American to climb Mt. Ararat. As an antiquities dealer, he imported between 11,000 and 175,000 artifacts to the United States, including hundreds of cuneiform tablets. After returning to the U.S., he became a consultant for the legendary film maker Cecil B. DeMille. Banks is considered to be one of the inspirations for Indiana Jones.
Following is an excerpt from Banks’s Bismya; or, The Lost City of Adab (New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1912):