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The Arab Bureau: Archaeologists and Spies in the Middle East during the First World War

Start: May 16, 2017 06:00 PM

Location: UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

The Arab Bureau: Archaeologists and Spies in the Middle East during the First World War (Image credit: TNA FO 882/27)

Juliette Desplat (The National Archives) will give a seminar organised by the Institute's History of Archaeology Research Network and the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology on 16 May.

Abstract

When the Ottoman Empire entered the war alongside Germany and her allies in November 1914, British intelligence networks in the regions were a rather disjointed affair. By 1915, it became clear that the system was not suited to the complexity of Middle East politics and had to be streamlined. The Arab Bureau was created in 1916 in an effort to harmonise British political activity in the region. It was expected that a single entity would more effectively channel intelligence reports and information back to Cairo and then London. In reality, it had to deal with a very vast territory, covered by agents who reported to different entities and were in a very anti-empirical disposition when on a mission. A lot of them were intellectuals, and in particular archaeologists, turning scholarship into a deadly weapon.

This talk will be followed by the opening evening events for the Petrie Museum’s WW1 Different Perspectives exhibition.

All welcome!

Any enquiries about the event may be directed to Amara Thornton.