Mr. Straus to Mr. Bayard.
Constantinople , May 9, 1888. (Received May 26.)
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.,