Yale Babylonian Collection

Straight-laced and proper, the Episcopal minister John Peters may have been a fine clergyman, but he was an uninspired scholar. The Nippur expedition’s scientific director from 1888 to 1891, he discovered a promising hoard of cuneiform tablets but failed to provide direction to his fellow excavators. He generated newspaper headlines in1905 when he accused Hilprecht of publishing an unreliable account of the Nippur dig; Peters claimed that some of the tablets published by Hilprecht had not come from Nippur at all but had been purchased on the antiquities market. The subsequent “Peters-Hilprecht Controversy” was one of the most notorious academic scandals of the early 20th century.