Born Pessah Panitsch in Kolno, Poland, to a Zionist, ultra-orthodox family, he was educated in a Jewish orthodox school and in Yeshivas. He immigrated to Israel in 1925. While working in housing and road construction to support himself, he studied for a degree in Middle-Eastern studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
For a period, he lived amongst Bedouins near Amman, Bet She'an, and Kuneitra in order to learn their lifestyle. Part of his motivation for this endeavor was to understand why many of the ancient Kings of Israel were originally shepherds. During this period he wore traditional Bedouin clothing and went by the name Aziz Effendi.
^"Diggers". Time magazine. May 5, 1961. Retrieved 2009-08-20. "Eight miles from Dr. Yadin's Cave of Letters in the Wilderness of Judah, the second archaeological team, headed by grey-haired Polish Emigré Pessah Bar-Adon, 53, dug through six feet of debris in another cave. On the eighth day, behind a smooth stone that blocked a wall niche, it discovered a collection of artifacts that Bar-Adon quietly described as "probably archaeologically sensational": 432 copper, bronze, ivory and stone decorated objects that seem to be mace heads, scepters, crowns, powder horns, tools and weapons."