[an error occurred while processing this directive] Oriental Institute | Pioneers to the Past | General Hambro's House, Baghdad, Mesopotamia
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General Hambro's House, Baghdad, Mesopotamia

April 12, 1920

Well, you can’t imagine how welcome was another home letter which the cavass from the consulate brought in yesterday; — No. 16 registered. I find also that I had received No. 13 just before leaving Cairo, so only No. 14 has as yet failed to arrive. It makes an immense difference to me to know that you and the children are all right as I take the trail again this afternoon for the trip up the Tigris. There is no time now to acknowledge properly your letter or the numerous enclosures. I am sorry to hear you are financially hampered. I hope by this time that the royalties have helped out. If not, use my bank account, signing my name; — but do not fail to send me a memo of every check drawn, and leave me a margin of at least $500, for I cannot tell what emergency might oblige me to use personal funds out here.

Tell the little boy, I was so glad to receive his letter telling of his Sunday School work, and his class lunch with the kitchen so conveniently near, and all the rest. I will certainly write him a letter soon, — as soon as we have another little pause in our travels, which I hope will be at Mosul. Ask him to find Mosul on the map of Western Asia, lying on the Upper Tigris. The ancient city of Nineveh lies just across the river from Mosul, and in Ancient Times, in the story of Alexander the Great, he will find a rather bad view of the ruins of Nineveh, seen from the roof of a house in Mosul as one looks across the river Tigris.

I was very glad indeed to have also the nice pictures, with such wonderful colors, from my dear little girl. I think the Chinaman’s legs are very remarkable indeed! I hope she will make some more. Father will not forget the little red automobile, though the market in red automobiles on the Tigris is a little slack at present! I was very glad also to receive my little girl’s dear little letter, all duly signed with name, and I will try to answer it. I am sorry there are no picture postcards on the Tigris; they have all gone to look up the little red automobiles!

As to the subscription for the Pilgrim Fund, — I feel immensely removed from such responsibilities out here. It would be quite impossible for me to duplicate my present church subscription. I think the best we can do is $25 a year. I will enclose a check as soon as I can get at my check book. But now I must push on with a very busy day. Our train on the Baghdad Railway leaves this afternoon at 5:35. I have all our financial arrangements to make, for I am a kind of general courier for the whole bunch, and must get over to the bank at once. There is a lot of packing to do, a great deal of writing which I shall not be able to finish, a lunch at Miss Bell’s, with her old father Sir Hugh Bell, and plentiful other business. In three weeks more we shall be leaving for Basrah, which means we have begun the journey home! A welcome day!

Tell the big boy to write when he can to his old pater. I hope you may never be in a situation where letters mean so much and are looked for with such eagerness and longing. All this is part of the price to be paid for results, and my compensation lies in the conviction, right or wrong, that it is service to science, — nothing great or brilliant but the best that I am able to offer, and done as I feel, at a cost to be measured only by the extreme sensitiveness, loneliness and almost morbid love of home with which I am unfortunately encumbered.

Good-bye, my dear wife! The next letter will be near recording the beginning of our return journey. Always your affectionate James.

For the full story of my exciting trip you should come to the special exhibit “Pioneers to the Past: American Archaeologists in the Middle East, 1919-1920,” at the Oriental Institute!

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