• I spent significant time with Deborah teaching her to read hieroglyphs and to translate simple Egyptian texts. When Deborah was about three years old, I took her one afternoon to the Metropolitan Museum in New York. We went to the Egyptian section, where I carried her along so she could see what was in the cases. Each object was labeled and listed the name of a particular pharaoh in hieroglyphs and in English. Some tourists standing nearby remarked to me how impressed they were with my child, who already knew her ABCs. Needless to say, they were stunned when I told them that Deborah did not know her ABCs but was reading the pharaonic names from the hieroglyphs.
  • Once, while watching one of our wrestling matches, Albright asked Sheikh Yusuf, “So what do you think of the American sport of wrestling?” The dignified Arab chief replied, “Knowledge of it must come from Allah, and whatever comes from Allah is good. But would it not be more efficacious if they used daggers?”
  • Τhe excavators, who had discovered what they thought were the stables of Solomon, sought Petrie’s advice on where to look for the governor’s palace. Petrie walked around and spit into the air a number of times to determine the direction of the prevailing winds. He then advised the excavators to dig upwind because they could be sure that the governor would avoid the smells of the stables.
  • In those days, the stray bullet was said to be the most frequent cause of death in Kurdistan.
  • Agatha Christie happened to be considerably older than the archaeologist Max Mallowan, but this did not bother her at all, for, as she said, “It is wonderful to be the wife of an archaeologist because the older you are, the more interested he is in you.”
  • One day Isa told me how he avoided the discomforts of the cold season. At the onset of winter, he would steal a camel as amateurishly as possible so as to ensure getting caught. As punishment, the British authorities would put him in jail for the entire winter.
  • Naples had suffered severe bombing. One parish and its church, however, had escaped the damage. Its people were telling members of other parishes things such as, “Didn’t we tell you that our Madonna was the real one?”
  • Giuliano’s uncle had just been beatified and as a beatus was eligible for promotion to sanctus. I told Giuliano that it was an honor for me to be a friend of a saint’s nephew. But then I asked, “Why is it that an egregious sinner of your ilk takes such delight in having a saint in your family?” “You do not understand the function of saints,” he explained. “It is not for their own benefit that they are beatified and sanctified, but for us sinners. Their job is to intercede and get forgiveness for us. So not only I, but my friends like you, should escalate our sinning because my sainted uncle should not be underemployed.”

Cyrus Gordon, A Scholar’s Odyssey, 2000.