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A COMMUNICATION FROM PROFESSOR HILPRECHT
[Letter to Professor Lanman from Professor Hilprecht]
807 Spbuoe Street, Philadelphia, January 15, 1908
Professor Charles R. Lanman, 9 Farrar Street, Cambridge, Mass.
Dear Professor Lanman: Referring to the letter addressed to me,
dated April 18, 1906, by sixteen American orientalists (sent to me with
your note dated AprU 25, 1906), published, with my reply of April 27, 1906
and an introductory note by you in the October, 1907, issue of The
American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, I inclose
herewith copies of the following:
1. My letter to the Board of Trustees of the University of Penn-
sylvania, dated January 6, 1908, urging the full publication of all
data in their possession and mine bearing upon the " Peters-Hilprecht
2. A letter to me dated January 8, 1908, embodying the minute of
the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania approving of the
full publication by me.
The report on the "Peters-Hilprecht Controversy" to the trustees of
the University of Pennsylvania, by their Special Committee, dated June
26, 1905, gave only a slight indication of the mass of material presented
during the course of its investigation, but it is my intention as speedily
as possible to publish all the matter, as indicated in my letter to the
trustees, in a manner which I hope you and all your colleagues will con-
sider " full and frank," and which will make it readily accessible to every-
one interested in the controversy. My plans for the publication not
being as yet fully matured, I am unable at this time to name a definite
date of issue, but I believe it will be within two or at most three months.
Surely I, more than anyone else, am now interested in not delaying the
publication, and the inclosed statement (3) covering a summary of Dr.
Peters' original suggestions as to the method of the investigation and of
my comment thereon, indicate that from the first (January, 1905) I have
not been an advocate of secrecy.
Possibly it may later seem to me of advantage, in clearing up this
matter, to request a committee of "your sixteen" to come here to look
into the methods employed in dealing with the material from the Temple
Library at Nippur possessed by the University of Pennsylvania.
Kindly acquaint your fifteen colleagues with the contents of this
communication and its inclosures, and may I not expect, as a matter of
A Communication fkom Professor Hilpreoht 287
simple justice to me, that you will request the publication in full of all I
send you in the next issue of The American Journal of Semitic Lan-
QCAGES AND LITERATURES.
H. V. HiLPRECHT
[Letter to the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania
from Professor Hilprecht]
January 6, 1908
To the Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania :
Gentlemen: In view of the continued public and private agitation,
both against the University and the undersigned head of its Assyriological
Section, upon the subject of the so-called " Peters-Hilprecht Controversy,"
as evidenced in part by the letter addressed to me April 18, 1906, by six-
teen American orientalists and published with my reply and an intro-
ductory note in The American Journal of Semitic Languages and
Literatures, October, 1907 (Vol. XXIV, No. 1, pp. 92-94 — copy submitted
herewith), and by the preamble and resolution adopted on December 31,
1907, in this city by The Society of Biblical Literature and Exegesis, an
official copy of which sent by its corresponding secretary has just reached
me today (a copy of which is inclosed), I respectfully submit that it is my
conviction that the report of your committee as made public in 1905 has
not been generally accepted as satisfactory, because your proceedings
were conducted in private and you have not made public the "pleadings "
and testimony upon which it rests.
I am further convinced that our absolute silence in the face of the
continued attacks against me, and through me, against the University, is
producing increasingly serious injury to the reputation of the University,
as I know it is doing to my reputation as a scholar and a man, and I feel
that the sufifeiing and constant mental strain to which I have been for
more than two years subjected, by reason of the continued malicious
attacks and insinuations against me, cannot be longer endured by me in
silence with a preservation of my self-respect. I therefore respectfully
request that you either,
1. Cause the publication of all the correspondence, documents, and
evidence bearing upon this matter, presented before and during the
investigation conducted by your committee in the year 1905, together
with extracts from Volume XX of Series A of The Babylonian Expedi-
tion of the University of Pennsylvania, reviews and critiques thereon,
and correspondence in your possession and mine, both before and since
1905, bearing upon the controversy; or —
2. Cause to be published all or such portions of the record of yoiur
committee of investigation as you may deem proper, with permission to
288 The American Journal of Semitic Languages
me personally to make publication of all material bearing upon the mat-
ter, as above indicated, of which you did not make use, in a personal
supplemental statement to be issued by me relating to the matter; or —
3. Permit me personally to make the entire publication and furnish
me with that portion of the data possessed by you alone.
Very respectfully yours,
(Signed) H. V. Hilprecht
P. S. While appreciating that you may not be in a position to deter-
mine at once how this matter must be treated as to the details, pennit me
to add that to me it seems necessary that you forthwith make public
announcement (or permit me to do so), that publication of the full details
of this matter will be made as speedily as possible.
H. V. H.
January 7, '08
[Letter from Professor Betver, secretary of the Society of Biblical Lit-
erature and Exegesis to Professor Hilprecht]
Union Theological Seminary, 700 Park Avenue, New York
January 4, 1908
Professor H. V. Hilprecht, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia,
Dear Sir: At a meeting of the Society of Biblical Literature and
Exegesis, held in Philadelphia, December 31, 1907, the following pre-
amble and resolution were adopted:
Whereas, Charges reflecting on American oriental scholarship have been
made against Professor H. V. Hilprecht:
Resolved, That this Society shares the desire expressed by a number of
American orientalists that a complete reply to these charges be made in the
Journal of this Society or elsewhere.
(Signed) Julius A. Bewer
[Letter from Mr. Edward Robins, assistant-secretary of the University
of Pennsylvania, to Professor Hilprecht]
University of Pennsylvania
OflBce of the Secretary
Philadelphia, January 8, 1908
Dear Professor Hilprecht: I am instructed by the Trustees of the
University to acknowledge the receipt of your letter to them, which was
received on January 7, a few hours before the stated meeting of the Cor-
A Communication from Professor Hilprecht 289
Your letter was read to the Board, and I was instructed to send you
a copy of the minute showing the action thereupon taken. It is as
A communication from Professor Hilprecht, dated January 6, 1908, upon
the subject-matter of the so-called "Peters-Hilprecht Controversy,'' having
been submitted to the Board, it was, after a full consideration of the subject —
Resolved, That the Board approved of Professor Hilprecht's proposal to
publish the entire correspondence, documents, and evidence bearing upnn the
question, and that any information in the possession of the University which
he may call for be furnished to him.
Very respectfully yours,
[Document No. 3, accompanying letter to Professor Charles R. Lanman,
Cambridge, Mass., dated January 15, 1908]
Philadelphia, January 15, 1908
Dr. John P. Peters, in presenting (by means of two documents, one
dated January 11, 1905, and one undated, but sent to Philadelphia
shortly prior to that date), his "suspicions" or charfjes against me, sug-
gested that the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania conduct "a
full investigation and one which goes beyond the mere asking Professor
Hilprecht about these mistakes," by making use of the knowledge and
abilities of members of their staff, namely, Messrs. Fisher, Clay, Kanke,
and Jastrow. He further stated that to his surprise, the subject-matter
of his communications was already more widely known than he had sup-
posed, "and the very worst is believed" — that a proposition had been
made to publish the whole matter at a meeting held in Boston at the end
of December, 1904, and publish it in the papers. This he had opposed,
urging the "asking for an investigation on the part of the Trustees."
Dr. Peters continued, "I believe that it must be a thorough and
searching investigation, but in the best interest of science, as well as of
the University, if such an investigation is made, it should not be pub-
lished. Such publication would be a great scandal and would only do
injury;" adding, "I am doing everything in my power to prevent it from
being published, or to prevent an unfair and unjust judgment being made
The two documents above referred to were placed in my hands, with
the request to answer them, about January 20, 1905, and in returning
them on January 24, 1905, 1 made to the Provost of the University the
1. That at your earliest convenience you call an extra session of the entire
Board of Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, before which both Rev.
Dr. John P. Peters, as my accuser, and I, as defendant, be summoned.
290 The Amebican Journal of Semitic Languages
2. That the two documents referred to above, in their present form, be
read in the presence of the entire assembly.
3. That in addition, Rev. Dr. John P. Peters be asked to explain what
precisely he means by these charges preferred against me, and that a steno-
graphical record be kept of his answers.
i. That I then be authorized to answer these charges in the presence of
this entire assembly, and that a stenographical record be kept also of my
5. That afterwards both Rev. Dr. John P. Peters and I be informed in
writing of the charges, answers, and findings in this case by the Board of
6. That, contrary to the threefold proposal of Rev. Dr. John P. Peters, on
p. 4 of his letter of January 11. referred to above ("to prevent publication "),
the results, as obtained by the Board, be given the widest publicity, and in
order to protect me against similar attacks hinted at in Dr. Peters' letter, I,
in particular, be allowed to publish:
a) The two documents of said Rev. Dr. John P. Peters,
b) The stenographical records of his and my answers,
c) The result of the investigation by your Board.
H. V. HiLPBECHT