We are grateful to Amara Thornton and Michael McCluskey from the UCL, Filming Antiquity project for their insights into this film.
The footage dates from the late 1920s/early 1930s and shows excavations in Iraq at the mound of Kouyunjik, scenes in the village of Nebi Yunus, across the Khosr river from Kouyunjik within the ancient city boundaries of Nineveh, and scenes in the city of Mosul, across the river Tigris from Nineveh. The footage (at present) has been attributed to Nineveh excavator Reginald Campbell Thompson (1876-1941), a British Assyriologist, epigrapher and archaeologist.
Campbell Thompson directed four seasons at Nineveh – the initial 1927/28 season was followed by three in succession – 1929/30, 1930/31 and 1931/32. He focused on the mound of Kouyunjik, the location of Ashurnasirpal’s palace, and also sought evidence of a temple of the Assyrian goddess Ishtar, which was eventually discovered during the 1930/31 season. Campbell Thompson’s wife, Barbara, joined him on site for all four seasons, credited in the official publications with her work on the “domestic” arrangements. A varied cast of team members included two friends of Barbara’s – Miss Isabel Shaw (1929/30) and Miss M. Hallett (1930/31) – as well as Richard Hutchinson (1929/30) and Robert W. Hamilton (1930/31) and Max Mallowan and Agatha Christie (1931/32). Of the Iraqi members of the excavation, Campbell Thompson specifically credited his overseers Yakub and Abd-el-Ahad, as well as Mejid Shaiya, whom Campbell Thompson referred to as “my old henchman”.