About 1965 I gave a lift to an old villager somewhere near Shergat in northern Iraq. Hearing that I was English, he said that he remembered the English and produced, instead of some casual polite remark, the very specific comment: “they were just people, they introduced fair courts.” It was, though he could hardly have known it, a reference to the remarkable work of Sir Edgar Bonham-Carter, who in the early days of the Mandate founded Iraq's School of Law and re-established the machinery of justice, drafting a great deal of the necessary legislation himself and creating a system which in principle still exists. He was one of those British officials whose services in Iraq are indeed memorable, and it is a great honour for me to be giving the eighth Bonham-Carter Memorial Lecture today.
We in the small archaeological world, however, think of Sir Edgar especially as a leading spirit in the establishment of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, first chairman of the Executive Committee, and husband of course of Lady Bonham-Carter who is still one of the School's best friends. So I thought it appropriate that I should devote this lecture to another man who also, in his own way, bridged two cultures (Figs. 1, 2) and who was in fact the first Iraqi archaeologist, with great achievements and discoveries to his credit.
Yet Hormuzd Rassam, instead of being crowned with the honours that were his due, ended his life in disappointment and relative obscurity. His reputation has never fully recovered from the malicious attacks made upon it in his lifetime, and from the failure then to acknowledge his contribution to our knowledge of ancient Iraq. His reputation as an archaeologist in particular has suffered from the vastly improved archaeological techniques which were developed in Iraq a generation after he himself had left the field. He is condemned for not recording and publishing his excavations properly, and for being a treasure-hunter rather than a seeker after truth, when such criticisms might more reasonably be directed