Royall Tyler to Robert Woods Bliss, October 28, 1938

Geneva

October 28, 1938

Dear Robert,

I am cabling you: “Important no knowledge Doros seeking opening abroad reach his superiors writing.”

I’ve just spent a couple of days in Italy & have seen Doro. As I told you, he has been deprived of his professorship. Besides his professorship, however, he has for 3 years past had the post of sopraintendente of Nat. Monuments (a high rank, equal to that of Colonel) in Sardinia. He has just received an order from the Ministry to return to the Sardinian Sopraintandenza, without any indication of what his post will be, or his salary. All the efforts of his friends, some of them very high in Fascist circles, to find out what is in store for him, have failed. It seems probable that as a lot of work is in process in Sardinia which Doro started, and no one else is competent to continue, Doro will be kept there for the time being. But the Sopraintendenza is fast being filled up with young party-men, who are being promoted over the heads of officials with long experience. As soon as one of these youngsters has learned the ropes from Doro, Doro may perhaps be fired. And even while he is retained, he is now debarred from doing any digging outside Italy (no Jew may now be sent on any mission abroad). What is worse, he at present cannot, or perhaps never again can publish his work in Italy. All scientific publications, the work of Jews, are suspended.

The only way for him to continue his work is thus to find a job abroad. But if, while he is still an It. official, his chiefs find out that he is looking for something outside, he stands not only to be dismissed at once, but to lose such benefit as his quality of war-voluntear has given him so far; he’d lose his citizenship and his passport.

But if some opening could be found for him in America, he might take it. The practice so far has been to allow officials of his standing to take a year or two’s leave without pay. Once he were over there, his remaining might be managed without getting him in wrong with the authorities.

My idea of his leaving It. at once didn’t take account of the details of a situation that was only beginning to become clear. If he had got out, his family (mother & several brothers & sisters) would have lost important advantages which they have at present from the point of view of citizenship. And he, probably, would have been unable to save his papers & books, & other material of study.

For many years past he has been forming a collection of Mycenaean and Minoan seals, from museums the world over, and he now has the material, much of it unpublished, to produce a corpus of them. This, I should think, might interest the Princeton Institute of Higher Research.Princeton Institute for Advanced Study.

And would not the University (Princeton) be interested in the survey Doro did some years ago in Syria, & which led him to check up on the work done there by Butler,Howard Crosby Butler (1872–1922), an American architectural historian of the Middle East. Between 1899 and 1909, he led an archaeological expedition to north-central Syria. much of which is by now out of date? Doro’s preliminary survey would of course have to be completed on the spot. He has leave from Seyrig,Henri Arnold Seyrig (1895–1973), a French archaeologist, numismatist, and historian. In 1929, he was appointed director general of antiquities of Syria and Lebanon. Seyrig created the French institute of archaeology in Beirut, which he headed for twenty years. Directeur Général de Antiquités de Syrie, to publish a lot of very valuable Roman-Early Christian material, hitherto unpublished (refer to MoreyAmerican art historian Charles Rufus Morey (1877–1955) was a professor and chairman of the Department of Art and Archaeology at Princeton University between 1924 and 1945. He was best known for his expertise in medieval art and his Index of Christian Art. about this).

There is less immediate urgency than I had thought about finding something for Doro. Things will probably rock along, where he is concerned, for a bit—perhaps for the rest of this academic year, provided that nothing reaches the Ministry to the effect that he is dissatisfied with what he has. Were that to come to their knowledge, they would jump at the pretext, not only for turning him out but for accusing others of disloyalty. But in the long run he can only carry on his scientific work if he can find a job outside.

I’ve just had the enclosedThe whereabouts of this letter are not known. from Kaleb. If any of the things he mentions interest you, you might let him know (or me, if you prefer).

Much love to you both,

Yrs

R.T.

I’m longing to know how you like the two KhawamKhawam Brothers, an antiquities business that was founded in Cairo in 1862 by Sélim Khawam. lotsBZ.1938.64–65, BZ.1938.66, and BZ.1938.69.—& also my Dumbarton Oaks Paper No. 1.Hayford Peirce and Royall Tyler, “Elephant Tamer Silk, VIIIth Century,” in Three Byzantine Works of Art, Dumbarton Oaks Papers 2 (1941): 19–26.

 
Associated People: Doro Levi
Associated Things: Kalebdjian Frères
Associated Artworks: BZ.1938.64–65; BZ.1938.66; BZ.1938.69