No. 1060.
Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard.

No. 56.]

Sir: In response to your instruction No. 60, of December 17, 1887, with inclosures, in respect to archaeological explorations in the western and southern snores of Asia Minor and Crete, I have the honor to report as follows: This matter has received my careful attention both officially and unofficially. From my conversation with the minister of foreign affairs and with the minister of public instruction, I learn that up to some fifteen years ago permission was freely accorded by the Imperial Government to make explorations in any part of the Empire. This privilege was so abused, especially by persons who did not engage in the work for scientific purposes, but mostly with a mercenary object, that about fifteen years ago a law was passed restricting this privilege in many respects, and providing for a division of the articles discovered between the owner of the land, the Imperial Government, and the explorer. This arrangement was found to be very impracticable, and at the same time detrimental to the science of archaeology, and resulted frequently in breaking continuous links, as it were, illustrative of a definite period.

Thereupon some eight years since a law was passed annulling these former privileges and prohibiting the exportation of archaeological antiquities. [Page 1558] The Imperial Government has since undertaken, on its own account, to make explorations and discoveries. It has appropriated, and is appropriating, considerable sums of money for this purpose, under the supervision of the ministry of instruction and Hamdy Bey, the director of the Imperial Museum at Stamboul, a very competent scientist, who has personal charge of the explorations. I had a long interview on yesterday with Hamdy Bey for the purpose of fully informing myself on the subject, with the view of learning if there might not be a way found which would facilitate the objects outlined in your instruction. The researches and discoveries of Hamdy Bey, especially those made by him recently at Sidon, which have been partially described in the publications of archaeological societies in different countries, especially in France, are doubtless known to scientists in America.

Hamdy Bey corroborated the foregoing statements concerning the law and the reasons therefor, and informed me that he would do everything in his power to aid any American society whose objects are purely scientific 5 that under the law he has been permitted to exercise a certain discretion, which is limited to allowing to foreign societies to take such articles as are not desired by the Imperial Museum. This usually applies to duplicates only. The law above referred to, which provides that the entire discovery becomes the property of the Imperial Government, but which permits explorations to be made in the interest of science, requires that the person or society must specify the precise spot where the explorations are to be made, such specifications to be accompanied by a topographical map limited to an area not exceeding 10 square kilometers.

It is quite possible that if a representative of the society should come here and confer with Hamdy Bey, perhaps a better arrangement might be made than could be predicated under the provisions of the law. That, however, would largely depend upon the disposition Hamdy Bey might be induced or feel himself authorized to make.

I would further add that Hamdy Bey stated that if the object of the society in question be purely scientific, and should it be willing to expend money in making archaeological discoveries, he would be inclined not only to favor its scheme, but even to give it the benefit of his experience and of certain traces discovered by him, but which he has not been able to pursue. He specially mentioned certain Hittite remains, always with the understanding that the antiquities discovered shall be the property of the Imperial Government.

I have, etc.,

O. S. Straus.