May 12, 1851
Hot does not begin to describe the weather here. I feel consumed by unearthly fire the instant I walk outside my quarters. The heat just beats me down, forcing its unbearable weight upon my shoulders. Why I let you talk me into joining this expedition with Layard, I will never know. I miss Oxford mainly because I miss you, but only a few more months and we can finally be together. Austen came into my quarters last night in a fit of passion; apparently he was on the verge of discovering a new chamber in library our team found a while ago. The man continually pulled out his sketches from the site pointing here and there all the time muttering about new tablets. Needless to say, it was a sight. His frazzled expression emphasized by the wispy hairs that stuck out near his temples gave him the appearance of a madman. What was beyond me was his need to rant to a minor university sponsored cataloguer. I feel like he may have known what I wrote to you in my last letter. The past weeks I have yet to sleep soundly without dreams of being crushed by tablets. Our hired locals know not of what they are dealing with, their carelessness is frustrating. The other day, one of them managed to shatter an almost completely intact artifact. Layard promptly went into one of his rages.
Enough of this daily life, I really wanted to write you about my progress in understanding those odd tablets I found. Edward Hincks, a dear friend of Layard, has been writing me with a few of the symbols he has been working on deciphering. I have yet to meet Hincks in person, but from what I understand he is a brilliant and pious man. This Irish clergyman assured me that the cuneiform tablets have an interesting content. He barely made a dent in translation due to the limitation of symbols currently known, but the circumstances in which I found the tablets intrigued him. I wish I show you a photograph of the reliefs found on the tablets because my sketches barely do them justice. They are quite atypical for the Mesopotamian period since they lack the traditional warrior and king motifs. But I do not want to bore you with the trifles of Assyrian art. All you need to know is the pure beauty portrayed.
I often imagine myself wandering through this great library during the time when it was used. I think of crossing the threshold between the two imposing walls and coming to those curious tablets. The hidden alcove gives them a sense of mysterious importance, but I do tend to let my imagination travel a bit much. If only I knew what they said, my heart could rest. Daily, I find myself thinking of the secret text the tablets keep behind their clay lips. What I can tell is that Hincks believes the tablets to be an account of someone's life rather than any administrative texts. This journal-like text compounds the rarity of those detailed carvings. Regardless of my fascination, the heat again distracts me. I must make haste to send this to you.
All my love, dearest Adeline,
Post Script: I have enclosed some more sketches for you to enjoy. I hope your studies treat you well, break down more barriers my love. Remember, no tutor can make you feel small. Knowledge is for everyone.