In the barren landscape between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers, adventurers of the nineteenth century suspected that the remains of fabled kingdoms lay beneath the sands. As they dug into the mounds of Mesopotamia (present-day Iraq), these European and American archaeologists struck treasures beyond their wildest dreams--the graves of the stupendous Old Testament cities of Nineveh, Babylon, and Ur, and artifacts leading back to the birth of civilization. Return to Babylon reveals the excitement, the danger, the international competition, and the extraordinary men and women who made this era of archaeological exploration one of the most dramatic of all time. Near Eastern archaeology in the nineteenth century was dangerous: diseases took their toll, the midnight air could register 114°, and roving bands of thieves frequently menaced the foreigners encamped at excavation sites. Still, these adventurers were smitten by the alluring East and propelled by a powerful curiosity.--From publisher description.
I learned from here, that "we owe to Ashur-bani-pal the preservation of two literary masterpieces of the word, the two "Epics", of Gilgamesh and The World. Ashur was of course, the Assyrian conqueror with the blood-thirsty "reputation"--which he devoted a lot of time to creating, although in fact he was a devoted scholar and loved learning. He is a poster-child for Peace through Strength, the only true Peace.