This article examines the specifically American cultural features of the archaeological expedition to Adab/Bismya sponsored by the University of Chicago from 1903 to 1906. In particular, the motivations of the University and of the University's field director at Adab, Edgar James Banks, and Banks's relationship with the University, are investigated. These factors crucially influenced what Banks found at Adab, a site we are unlikely to learn more about because of its near destruction by illegal digging after the 2003 War.