#10: Anatolian archaeology (1890's)

A wealth of archaeological lore lay scattered over and within the soil of our College field, much of it only half suspected, and now we came to the organization of an Archaeological Club. Some old castles partly or often wholly in ruins might be encountered on a ride of a few miles in almost any direction. Several capital cities were not far away. Our earlier Americans never had heard the word Hittite used of Asia Minor, and knowledge of that great people and their great empires was only just beginning to struggle into the consciousness of savants, but evidence of their presence among our mountains, valleys and plains was beginning to be realized. A party of us once rode through a village where we found a magnificent Hittite lion, Roman milestones, Byzantine Greek Christian tombstones, where the villagers were Shia or heretic Turks. Thus, these old stones and living people represented four different types of race, religion, language and culture of every kind, living at intervals about a thousand years apart. We grew accustomed to picking up and comparing the painted pottery which lay abundantly around old city or fortress sites, artificial mounds, hidden sanctuaries, and like places. And our children grew adept at finding and picking up fragments of cuneiform script, usually Hittite. We established relations with the British Museum and some other centers of learning where any artefact, inscription even if fragmentary, or other object of archaeological interest was welcomed if we sent it, and with such information as could be furnished us by specialists in return.

So came to be founded our Anatolia Archaeological Club. In general the mature members of our community enrolled as active members, many of the more mature students were welcomed as associates and we secured several distinguished archaeologists as honorary members. Meetings were quarterly, rather informal, and decidedly interesting. By bringing our information to a common fund and all drawing from that fund, we learned to watch for objects of interest on journeys or during vacations, wherever spent, to report to the Club. Small fees during the course of a few years provided quite a library of useful and entertaining books and periodicals. Journals, scientific or popular, usually were glad to publish information supplied to them. Our field was new, there was a wealth of discovery and varied information to work upon and report to our home-land or European centers.

NEXT: Turkish introspection (c. 1900)