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

No. 830

Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegram No. 21 of today, May 26, 1926, 5 p.m.,28 and apropos of same to herewith enclose a copy of the full text of the Note from the Foreign Office to which the telegram refers, and at the same time a copy of my Note to the Foreign Office of May 17, 1926, with the clarifying statement which I made as a counter proposal to the one submitted by the Legal Adviser of the Foreign Office, which is also enclosed.

The winning of this contest by us has not been, by any means, an easy matter. I think the Metropolitan Museum of Art is to be congratulated on securing this addition to the regulation permits.

I have [etc.]

J. Morton Howell
[Enclosure 1]

The American Minister (Howell) to the Egyptian Minister for Foreign Affairs (Ziwer Pasha)

No. 348

Excellency: I have the honor to refer to my Aide Memoire of April 17, 1926, on the question of the promulgation of the new Antiquities regulation permits of M. Lacau as they pertain to Article 10.

The Aide Memoire clearly sets forth the intentions of M. Lacau as they apply to Article 10; in other words, it sets forth not only the letter but the spirit with which, or by which, M. Lacau proposes Article 10 shall be interpreted as the said Article applies to objects found by concessionaires, and all we have asked is that the salient points of these expressions be embodied in the Excavation Permit following Article 10.

In this prayer we are fully supported both by the British and French Governments.

There may be some redundancy of words which we have asked in the said Aide Memoire be put into the clarifying statement of the [Page 74] Regulation Permit, but now, to eliminate such, insofar as possible, and yet make the declaration of principles as short as is consistent to therein, at the same time, express the full meaning and intent of M. Lacau’s statements to the various archaeological expeditions, I have the honor to submit the following, to be made a part of the Excavation Permit of the Egyptian Government.

I profit [etc.]

J. Morton Howell

Proposed Clarifying Statement to Article 10

To render more clear the intentions of the Egyptian Antiquities Service with respect to Article 10 of the regulation governing the issuance of Excavation Permits put into effect in the fall of 1924, by the said Service, the Egyptian Government declares:

That scientific principles clearly require that the Service des Antiquités shall reserve freely for itself all material which it does not already possess. But this same scientific interest requires equally that it shall give largely in the case of all material which it already possesses. It proposes only to retain such objects as should definitely form a part of the Egyptian Public Domain.

It does not propose to keep duplicates or equivalents already well represented in the national collections for purposes of sale, or to form reserves which shall serve to reimburse one excavator with the duplicates found by another.

Under these conditions the Egyptian Government proposes to give to excavators even objects of first importance if it already has the equivalent in its collections, whether or not in excess of the half of objects found.

[Enclosure 2—Translation30]

The Egyptian Ministry for Foreign Affairs to the American Legation

No. 53.7/1(1317)


Referring to the aide-mémoire dated April 17, 1926, and note No. 348 dated May 17, 1926, from the American Legation,31 the Ministry for Foreign Affairs has the honor to inform the American Legation that the Egyptian Government, desirous of giving assurances of the liberal treatment which it intends to apply to excavators, has no objection to adding to Article 10 of the Excavation Permit, signed annually by excavators, the following note: [Page 75]

“Scientific principles require that the Service des Antiquités should reserve freely all objects which it considers it requires for its collections. These same principles require equally that it give largely objects even of first importance which it does not need for its collections. Inspired by those principles the Service does not wish either to sell objects found by excavators or to form reserves of them to give to other excavators. On the contrary, the Service is disposed to give to the beneficiary of the Permit all objects which it does not require for the State collections in Cairo as well as in other towns, whatever may be the importance of said objects. It is expressly understood, however, that the Service will form the said collections with entire freedom and that it will decide in its sovereign capacity what it will give as well as the choice of objects which will be given to the holder of the Permit.”

The Ministry for Foreign Affairs believes it should point out to the Legation that the formula proposed in the Legation’s note dated May 17th contains some expressions incompatible with the freedom which the Egyptian Government has the right to reserve to itself in this matter and which might become sources of difficulty. Thus the Egyptian Government is pleased to hope that the note above reproduced, which is based in the largest measure possible upon the formula contained in the said aide-mémoire, will reassure the scientific institutions which were alarmed over the new form of Permit (in fact, the Museum of New York32 is the only one which has not undertaken excavations under the new regime) and, consequently, will give full satisfaction to the Legation.

[Enclosure 3—Translation33]

Clarifying Statement to Article 10 Proposed by the Egyptian Government

“Not wishing either to sell the objects thus found or to form reserves of them for the purpose of rewarding other excavators, the Service des Antiquités is disposed to give the beneficiary of the Permit all objects which it does not require for the national and local collections, whatever may be the importance of the said objects. It is expressly understood that the Service shall have full liberty to form the said collections and that it will decide finally as regards the grant as well as the choice of objects which shall be given to the beneficiary of the Permit.”

  1. Not printed.
  2. File translation revised.
  3. Ante, p. 73.
  4. i. e., the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  5. File translation revised.