6 FEBRUARY 1948, Page 24

Shorter Notices CONSIDERING the richness and interest of the material

there have been remarkably few books on Assyriology. The science is little

more than a hundred years old ; we have had the notes and books of Rich and Layard, Gertrude Bell, T. E. Lawrence, Sir Leonard Woolley and Seton Lloyd among others, but there has hitherto been no attempt at recording the history of Mesopotamian

exploration within the covers of a single book. Foundations in the Dust, which describes the first tentative journeys of early explorers

down to the fascinating discoveries made in the nineteenth century at Nineveh and Babylon, is thus most timely. It is not only a historical survey but a series of biographies of the men and women concerned.

The world—and the British Museum in particular—owes a debt of gratitude to the patience of explorers such as Rich, Buckingham, Layard, Botta, Rawlingson and Smith, and Mr. Lloyd has done well to describe their lives and achievements in detail. Now and again incidental and fantastic figures such as Lady Hester Stanhope- " with a considerable suite of gentlemen "—or Austen Henry Layard in full Bakhtiari costume—flit across the brightly lit scene gaining reputations for eccentricity but also quietly doing good work which has made history. Iraq demands the whole of a man. Rich died of cholera ; the heat often touches 135' F.; one of the boats of the ill- fated Euphiates Expedition was sunk in a freak storm; and if the explorers escaped major incidents they often fell foul of Arab robbers, disease and loneliness. Mr. Lloyd has made the most of his material and the result is an absorbing book.