letter to Provost William Pepper
C1862 M1864 came from Baghdad and bore a warning: Entirely
suffer immensely, wrote its author, Dr. Hermann V. Hilprecht.
For what did I come then on this expedition, for what did I sacrifice
all that was mine?
source of Hilprechts anguish during that winter of 1889 was a
great trove of antiquities, including cuneiform tablets, recently
purchased by two members of the Babylonian Exploration Fund. As
an Assyriologist with a high opinion of his own abilities, he
was appalled that his colleagues on the expedition hadnt even
offered him a peek.
months after setting out, the explorers were still waiting for
official permission to excavate at Nippur, and the Wali had just
denied them an audience because of a toothache. Even if they did
get a permit to dig, he added, there was no hope of unearthing
artifacts from such a vast area that season. All my hope is
wouldnt remain buried for long, however. From the mounds of Nippur,
60,000 Sumerian cuneiform tablets and fragments would be unearthed
over the next decade by the expedition team, which had agreed
to give everything to a new museum being established by Provost
Pepper. And now, more than a century later, the enormous mound
of information gleaned from the ancient texts has made its way
into an online Sumerian dictionary.