883.927/5

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Howell)

Sir: There is enclosed herewith for your information copies of letters dated January 15 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art and from the American Federation of Arts9 with regard to the modification of the provisions of Egyptian law relating to the division of antiquities unearthed in Egypt by foreign excavators. You will note that The Metropolitan Museum of Art and The American Federation of Arts have reached the conclusion that, if the proposed changes are put into effect and foreign excavators deprived of the right to share in the results of their excavations, the trust funds of the interested American societies could no longer be applied to excavation work in Egypt and that all such work on the part of American institutions! or individuals would necessarily be brought to an end. A copy of the Department’s reply to these communications is enclosed herewith.10

It is desired that you consult with your British, French and Italian colleagues in order to ascertain what steps, if any, they may contemplate on behalf of their nationals. If you deem it appropriate you may act with your colleagues, who, in the opinion of the Department, may be equally interested, in presenting this matter in an appropriate [Page 716]and tactful manner to the Egyptian Government. You may indicate that you presume it is not the desire of that government to take action which would eliminate American enterprise from a share in the excavation work in Egypt as such a step would not appear to be in the interest of either American or Egyptian nationals and that you hope some arrangement may be made for a satisfactory adjustment of the question.

In case you should ascertain that no representations are contemplated by either the British, French, or Italian Governments or that special arrangements may have been reached by these governments to protect the interests of their nationals, you should refer the matter to the Department by telegraph before making representations to the Egyptian Government.

You will note that this matter is also being brought to the attention of the American Embassies at London, Paris, and Rome.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
William Phillips
  1. Latter not printed.
  2. Not printed.