On Monday, April 6, 1908, 25 faculty and students departed New York City for Southampton, England aboard the RMS Adriatic on the Iram Expedition. Departing Southampton, the expedition boarded the RMS Thames Angel and sailed for Port Said, Egypt, then through the Suez Canal and finally on to the port of Muscat, arriving on April 26. At Muscat, the expedition joined with with elements of the expedition from Brichester University, Brichester, England.
Professor Henry Derby had arranged passage to the excavation site with Brichester University faculty and trusted native guides to convey equipment and supplies to a point in Arabian desert about seven days west of Muscat. The Iram expedition left for the site on April 29, arriving on May 8, 1908.
Many of the Miskatonic students reported that the native guides became very nervous once the expedition started to draw close to the Iram ruins. The leader of the guides, Habib Saqqif, kept the order among his hired men, so nothing else was reported in regards to the native guides. However, Saqqif did make a request that they be camped a couple hundred yards from the ruins so they could make their prayers in accordance the Moslem faith. The Brichester University professors did not think this an unusual request.
The excavations went well for a week, and it was becoming clear that Iram was nearly devoid of artifacts. The site had shown signs that is had been emptied over the years, but Professor Derby pushed on, exploring a labyrinth of rooms until he uncovered a clay tablet with cuneiform writing on it on May 14. Derby was anxious to translate the tablet to discover the magnitude of his discovery, but none of the professors on site were versed in reading cuneiform. Students and professors both noted that Professor Derby seemed to be distressed at not being able to translate the text.
The next day, one of the native guides mentioned to Derby that one of his comrades was versed in translating ancient tongues, having come from a family were rumored to be guardians of secrets that ranged back from antiquity. Desperate, Derby had the fellow brought to camp to look at the tablet. Against the advice of the Brichester professors and his own colleagues, Derby attempted to translate the tablet. Professor Albert Nolan was also in attendance.
According to all witnesses, the native guide thought to be named “Akif” began to translate out loud. His English was good and even tinted with with a London accent as noted by a Brichester University professor who was there. All witness also related that the first passages seemed to relate to a ritual, and before “Akif” read any further, his voice changed to almost a guttural croak and he grabbed for his own throat. In the meanwhile, he still croaked out words indescribable. One witness noted that an odd smell and a cold wind seemed to whip through the pavilion that Derby, “Akif” and Nolan were under while “Akif” was reading the tablet.
Most of the witnesses seem to agree on the next events. Immediately after the cold wind, “Akif” drew his dagger. Professor Nolan lunged at him, but was driven back by two slashing cuts to his face. Professor Derby was transfixed by the happenings and did not move. “Akif” then bared his chest and plunged his dagger deep enough to sever the arteries and veins to his heart. Incredibily, he then reached into his chest pulled out his still beating heart and managed to take two bites from it before collapsing dead.
Habib Saqqif, leader of the native guides almost panicked and bolted at the sight of the dead body, but witnesses said that he managed gather himself most boldly. He rallied the students and commanded that they and the guides retreat to the guide’s camp and wait his arrival. The Miskatonic and Brichester faculty hastily broke down the camp and buried “Akif” just outside the ruins. Witnesses noted that Derby was in a state of shock and did not respond when talked to, although he would go where lead. Nolan gathered the tablets in a padded bag and packed it one of the automobiles brought along with the expedition.
The expedition left the site in post-haste, and arrived in Muscat, May 23, 1908. Professors Nolan and Milton Brightwell informed local British authorities of the incident, and an investigation conducted. By June 8, it was concluded that “Akif” was unstable and chose the expedition to gather the most attention before committing suicide. His body was left where it was interred with no marker by request of his family. On June 10, the expedition was cleared to board the Thames Angel . Professor Derby was also cleared of wrong-doing. Three of the students required mild treatment for shock, but seemed recovered by the time they boarded the ship. On June 11, Miskatonic University officially recalled the expedition.
The Thames Angel left early on the morning of June 12, and arrived in Southampton on June 19. The University secured passage on the RMS Baltic out of Liverpool on June 25, and the expedition arrived in New York City on July 2. Miskatonic faculty and students arrived in Arkham on July 4. The Iram Clay Tablet was cataloged stored with the Miskatonic Society, after some legal protest with Miskatonic University. Statements were taken from Professor Albert Nolan and students Myrna Smeed and Fredrick Hallwell, and this report was filed Tuesday, August 11, 1908.