The man made tunnel from the spring of Gichon to the pool of Siloam, 530 m. long, had been hewn out of the rock upon the order of King Hezekiah, and was already known from archaeological excavations of the nineteenth century. in 1880, however, archaeologist and researcher Conrad Schick discovered the “Siloam Inscription,” six lines in Paleo-Hebrew, one of the most important finds in Biblical archaeology. (See his first report of the discovery- ZDPV 1880, p.54; PEFQ 1880, p.238.) Prof. A.H. Sayce succeeded in partially deciphering the inscription, which had been placed to mark the meetings of the two teams of quarriers who had dug the tunnel from both ends (see his article- PEFQ 1881, pp.141-154). Sayce’s work initiated the research of the inscription. But in October 1890, the inscription had been cut out of its place and carried away. It was broken in two pieces in removal and the fragments were sold to a Greek in Jerusalem (PEFQ 1891, p.2). On 1 November 1890, the Executive Committee of the PEF expressed “greatest regret and indignation on the clandestine removal and partial destruction of the Siloam Inscription” and demanded from the authorities “to recover the inscription and deposit it safely at the Museum in Constantinople” (FO 195/1727).

FO 195/1727 No. 3

Jerusalem, February 18th, 1891

Sent in Duplicate


I have the honour to inform Your Excellency that the Executive Committee of the Palestine Exploration Fund sent Mr Consul Dickson at Damascus,1 a copy of a Resolution passed unanimously at a meeting held in London on the 18th of November last, of which I beg leave to enclose a copy.

Mr. Consul Dickson forwarded the copy to me with instructions to take any action I thought proper in the matter. At his suggestion I showed a translation of the letter to the Governor of Jerusalem,2 who informed me that he had also received telegraphic instructions from Constantinople to take such steps as would lead to the immediate recovery of the Siloam Inscription. A few suspected persons were imprisoned, but no positive information could be obtained.

Although not considering myself called upon to interfere in such matters, yet I exerted every effort in my power and by making private enquiries I happily discovered that the Revd. J. Hanauer and Dr Percy D’Erf Wheeler,3 of the London Jews’ Society here, had accidentally seen the missing Inscription at the house of a Greek, (Turkish subject) named George Patrides, by whom they were invited to see a Moabite stone, but this gentleman being absent, his wife by inadvertence showed them the Siloam one. On learning this I at once interviewed these gentlemen, but they refused to divulge the name without first seeing the Greek and advising him to give up the stone which he refused to do. On being informed of this I persuaded those gentlemen to give me his name. I then had a private interview with the Governor and informed him of my success in finding out the name of the perpetrator of this outrage, at which His Excellency was very pleased. By the Governor’s orders, Mr Patrides was called upon to hand over the Inscription to the Local Authorities, and he did so stating that he had bought it for 35 Napoleons 4 from a Fellah whose name he could not remember.

I beg further to state, that Mr Hanauer and myself have identified the stone to be the one which was stolen.

No steps have yet been taken to punish the offenders.

I regret to have to inform Your Excellency that the Inscription has been broken through its removal.

The Pasha is, I believe, awaiting instructions from the Sublime Porte as to its disposal.5

I have the satisfaction to report to your Excellency that through my endeavors the stone has been as quickly restored to the proper Authorities.

W.H. Kayat 6

1. N.T. Moore was appointed Consul-General at Tripoli on 10 September 1890. He was succeeded in Jerusalem by John Dickson, who had served until then as Consul at Damascus. For various reasons, however, Dickson remained in Damascus, arriving in Jerusalem only on 15 March 1891. Nevertheless, the Committee of the PEF sent its letter to Dickson in Damascus, because he was already formally serving as Consul at Jerusalem.

2. Ibrahim Hakki Pasha (1863-1918) was the Governor of the Jerusalem district from November 1890 to November 1897. After the revolution of the “Young Turks,” he served as the Minister of Education and the Interior, and Grand Vizier in 1910-1911.

3. James Edward, Hanauer, the son of the Jewish convert C.W. Hanauer, who was baptized in 1844, began his missionary activities in Jaffa. In the 1870s he was transferred to the missionary station in Jerusalem, and in the years 1893-1903 he was again active in Jaffa. He later returned to Jerusalem, and after several years went as a missionary to Damascus. His important book, Walks About Jerusalem, was published by the London Jews’ Society in 1910, and a second revised edition appeared in 1926, during the author’s lifetime.

Dr. Percy D’Erf Wheeler was Director of the Missionary Hospital from 1866 until 1914. During his administration the main building of the hospital was erected outside the walls and consecrated in 1897. Dr. Wheeler left Jerusalem at the beginning of World War I, but returned in 1919 and resumed his activity as Director of the hospital.

4. 700 francs = 35 Napoleons.

5. The Inscription was indeed transferred to the Museum in Constantinople, where it remains to the present (see also PEFQ 1891, p.88).

6. William Henry Khayat, the second son of Assad J. Khayat, was an American subject. He was appointed by Consul Moore as the Cancellier of the Consulate in Jerusalem, and in 1885 he was awarded the title Pro-Consul. Since Dickson had not yet arrived in Jerusalem, Khayat served as Acting Consul. In 1902 he retired from the diplomatic service.