No. 1081.
Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard.

No. 78.]

Sir: In reply to your instructions Nos. 89 and 90, with inclosures, in respect to the petitions addressed to the Department of State by the trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, by the president of Johns Hopkins University, and others, praying that you instruct me to apply to the Ottoman Porte for a firman permitting excavations to be made in the ruined cities of Mesopotamia, I have the honor to report:

Great pressure is constantly being brought to bear by European archaeologists through the representatives of their respective Governments here to obtain privileges for explorations and excavations in various parts of the Ottoman Empire, including the districts designated by the memorialists.

Though I have made careful inquiry, I have not learned of any persons or societies succeeding in obtaining any other or further privileges [Page 1585] since the passage of the law now in force than those that are provided for under that law.

I herewith inclose for the information of the Department a translation of the law in question and the law. I forward this law in extenso, so that persons and societies in America interested in the subject may be fully advised, and may feel no disappointment should they not succeed in securing any better terms than are therein provided for.

It will be observed that article 3 provides that all objects discovered in the Ottoman territory are the property of the Government. I desire in this connection to recur to the substance of a statement contained in my former dispatch, No. 56, that any arrangement that could be made, such as permitting the excavators to take duplicates, would depend largely, if not entirely, upon the result of personal negotiations with Hamdy Bey, the director of the imperial museum.

Under the circumstances above set forth, in view of the Porte having heretofore declined to grant other privileges than those provided for under the law, it will be difficult for the Porte, as I have been informed by the Grand Vizier, without giving offense to others, to make an exception in behalf of the petitioners.

The natural obstacles in the way conflict with the advisability of applying for two firmans in view of the several interests referred to in your instructions.

In order not to lose time I have brought the subject before his highness the Grand Vizier, and have fully, on several occasions discussed the matter with him. He has promised me his support, with a view of laying the matter before His Majesty, with the hope of obtaining his iradeh, under which a portion, or possibly one-half, of the objects discovered shall belong to the excavators. I have to-day, at his suggestion, addressed a personal note to him (the Grand Vizier) upon the subject. The matter shall have my most careful attention. I deem it of the utmost advisability that the conflicting interests work together and co-operate in one body, so that the firman, should it be obtainable, can be issued to that body for the benefit of all concerned.

It will be my endeavor to obtain the most favorable concession possible, and in a form as practicable as possible.

I have, etc.,

O. S. Straus.
[Inclosure in No. 78.—Translation.]

Law on archœological excavations.

Article 1. The remains left by the ancient populations of the states forming at present the dominions of the Ottoman Empire—that is to say, the gold and silver and other ancient coins, and the inscriptions conveying reference to history, and statues and sepultures and ornamental objects in clay, stone, and other materials, utensils, arms, tools, statuettes, ring-stones, temples, palaces, circuses, theaters, fortifications, bridges, aqueducts, bodies and objects in tombs, burying mounds, mausoleums, and columns—are regarded as antiquities.

Art. 2. In general, the right of ownership of all the antiquities is regulated by the present law.

Art. 3. All the antiquities discovered in the Ottoman territory, he it on the surface, under ground or exhumed, picked up in the sea, the lakes, the rivers, the streams, or the valleys, are the property of the Government.

Art. 4. The monuments of antiquity which happen to be in the property or houses of private persons, either loose or built in the walls, can not be moved by the proprietors of the property; and for the keeping of those antiquities in their original place the Government has inaugurated the following measures.

[Page 1586]

Art. 5. It is forbidden to destroy the antiquities which may be discovered in one’s land, like buildings, roads, walls of castles and fortresses, baths, tombs, and other things; and in order not to occasion any damage to antiquities they will refrain from establishing any lime-kiln at a distance less than half a kilometer from the spot where the antiquities are to be found; or from the erection of any kind of building and works which would be injurious; or to remove the stones of tumbled-down ancient monuments; from measuring or taking moulds, or of placing ladders on them for any purpose whatsoever; from appropriating or restoring old buildings and making use of them in part or in all, or to use them for deposits of grain, straw, or hay, or to use them as tanks, or for cattle, or turn them into fountains, or to use them for other purposes.

Art. 6. The places on which’ the Government has decided to make excavations may be bought from their owners, if they are in the hands of private persons or societies; if they refuse to sell, the regulation on expropriation for public uses shall be applied in order to buy that property.

Art. 7. No one is allowed to make excavations to extract or appropriate antiquities in the Ottoman dominions without having previously obtained the official permit in accordance with the present regulation.

Art. 8. The exportation of antiquities found within Ottoman territory is absolutely forbidden.

Art. 9. The permit for the excavation and exhumation of antiquities may be granted to private persons or to any scientific society. The terms of that permit must be in accordance with the conditions of the present regulation.

Art. 10. As to the searches and excavations of antiquities, after the opinion of the administration of the imperial museum and the conclusions of the council of public instruction have been obtained, and after the ministry of public instruction has submitted the case to the Sublime Porte, the final permit will be granted in accordance with the terms contained in the third chapter of the present regulation.

Art. 11. A duplicate list describing the quantity and the quality of the objects excavated must be made on the printed blanks to be furnished by the ministry of public instruction, which must be signed and certified; then one of the copies will remain with the excavator and the other with the board of public instruction; where such boards do not exist they will be recorded in the books kept for the purpose by the local authorities and sent to the ministry of public instruction.

Art. 12. The antiquities excavated with an official permit belong to the imperial museum, and the excavators have only the right to take drawings or moulds.

Art. 13. The antiquities discovered without permit are confiscated, and if the excavator has already disposed of them he will pay their value.

Art. 14. The antiquities which may be discovered by accident in digging the foundations of a building, or of a wall, or of a sewer, shall be divided in equal parts between the owner of the property and the Government, and then at the division of those antiquities, as the Government has the choice of taking such as it thinks proper on paying their value, it may get from the land-owner out of those which have fallen to his share such a portion as it wants.

Art. 15. Those who desire to undertake excavations of antiquities shall prepare a topographical plan showing the boundaries of the spot to be excavated, and present it at Constantinople to the ministry of public instruction, and if they are in the provinces, to the governors-general with their written request, and the governors-general will forward it, together with their report of their investigation of the subject, to the ministry of public instruction.

Art. 16. The delivery of the permit of excavation appertains to the ministry of public instruction after agreement with the direction of the imperial museum, but unless the necessary investigations are made, and, according to article 10, the consent of the Sublime Porte is obtained, this permit can not be given.

Art. 17. The permit for excavating antiquities can only be granted under the following conditions:

After having ascertained that it will cause no obstruction to the forts, fortifications, public buildings, nor interfere with public utility.
If the excavations are to take place in the landed property of a private person, to satisfy the owner.
The pecuniary security which will be agreed upon by the director of the imperial museum must be actually deposited.

After the fulfillment of these conditions the ministry of public instruction, after having conformed to the prescriptions of the preceding article, delivers the permit. But no permit can be granted for more than two years.

And if, before beginning the excavations, or even after having begun them, for some reason the period of the permit is allowed to pass and the explorer wants to continue his researches, if there is no objection, the ministry of public instruction, after an agreement with the director of the museum, may grant a permit for an additional period, not longer than one year.

[Page 1587]

Art. 18. The ministry of public instruction will collect on the permits of excavation on account of the museum—

On a permit from one day to six months 5
On a permit from six months to one year 10
On a permit from one year to two year 20

Art. 19. If, after having obtained the permit, the excavations are not commenced within the period of three months from its date, or after having commenced them they should he discontinued for two months, the permit will be annulled; and if the explorer wants to renew it, the ministry of public instruction, with the director of the museum, may continue or not the old permit, or cancel it and furnish a new one in its place.

Art. 20. The permit for excavations shall not embrace a larger area than 10 square kilometers. If after the commencement of the excavations an objection is found on the part of the Government, on the order of the ministry of public instruction, the works shall be temporarily stopped; and the time of stoppage shall not be accounted for in the period of the permit, and the explorers will have no claim for expenses or damages on account of that stoppage.

Art. 21. At the places where excavations are to be made the Government will keep an able and capable official; and the traveling expenses and the salary of this official, after having been fixed by the authorities, will be collected from the excavators in full and paid to him monthly by the treasurer of the public instruction.

If the excavations are finished before the expiration of the permit, and the researches abandoned, the surplus of the money paid for the salary of the official shall be returned to the excavator.

Art. 22. No permit of excavation shall be granted to officials of the Ottoman or of a foreign Government for excavations to be made within the district of their official post.

Art. 23. The transfer, by the recipient, of a permit of excavation is forbidden.

Art. 24. A person can not have permits for excavations in more than one place.

Art. 25. Those who, by accident, discover antiquities are bound, if at Constantinople, to inform the ministry of public instruction within five days; and if in the provinces, to inform the local authorities within ten days.

Art. 26. At the expiration of the permit, or at the termination of the excavations, when the excavator gives notice of it, if it is found that he has fulfilled all the conditions of the regulations, the money he had deposited as security will be returned to him in accordance with the receipt.

Art. 27. The amount produced by seizures of antiquities, or, on condemnation, from sales at public auction, in accordance with the rule, by an official auctioneer, and the money accruing from divisions with the owners of antiquities, and also fines, and fees of permits, and the product of confiscations, shall belong to the treasury of the museum.

Art. 28. The importation from abroad of any kind of antiquities is free and exempt from customs dues; and any kind of antiquities which are to be transported from one district to another within the Ottoman dominions are exempt from internal duties.

Art. 29. Permission for the re-exportation of antiquities introduced from abroad into the Ottoman dominions, and for the transportation from one district of the Empire to another of antiquities found within the Empire, can be obtained by means of drawing up a list of said antiquities by the owner and shipper, and transmitting it to the director of the museum through the ministry of public instruction; and in the provinces, to the boards or commissions of public instruction; and in localities where there are no such boards or commissions, to the local authorities. The owner of antiquities introduced into the Empire from abroad is bound, within eight days, to transmit a list of them, as before stated, to the administration of the museum through the ministry of public instruction; and in the provinces, to the board or commission of public instruction; and if there is no such board or commission, to the local authorities.

Art. 30. In any case the re-exportation of antiquities imported from abroad, and the transportation from one district of the Empire to another of antiquities found within the Empire, is necessarily subject to an official authorization, which can be procured from the ministry of public instruction with the agreement of the director of the museum.

Art. 31. The antiquities exported without the special permit of the ministry of public instruction shall, if captured, be seized or confiscated in the name of the museum.

Art. 32. The granting of the official permission to export antiquities into foreign countries, though reserved to the ministry of public instruction with the consent of the director of the museum, is subject to the following conditions:

The museum should possess already a duplicate of the kind.
That it should be established that the said antiquities have been imported from a foreign country.

Art. 33. Those who appropriate antiquities found on the ground or exhumed on private or government property, will be liable, in accordance with article 138 of the penal code, to damages and a fine, and to imprisonment from one month to one year.

Art. 34. If those who have accidentally discovered some antiquities do not give notice of it, they, after being deprived of the share to which they had a right, are punished with a fine equal to one-fourth of the value of their discovery, and if those antiquities are out of reach, besides the fine they will have to pay their total value.

Art. 35. Those who, in transporting from one district to another antiquities found within the empire, violate article 32, will be subjected to a fine from 1 to 5 Turkish pounds.

Art. 36. The lawsuits which may originate out of these regulations shall be heard in the ordinary courts of law.

Art. 37. The ministry of public instruction is charged with the enforcement of the present regulations.