The Pini Society Archive
The Pini Society, or the idea that would grow into it, occurred to James Arthur
Pini as he worked on a dig with his friend Hormuzd Rassam in Nineveh in 1849. Austen
Henry Layard led the expedition, which was James’s first experience with hands-on
James discovered a sun-disk artifact that captured his imagination, and as he considered
it he realized the importance of all the traces of history to be found across the
world. Grave robbers and thieves were a constant problem. As he worked, James came
to believe that he should do something more to discover and protect the relics of
older civilizations. The sun-disk came to symbolize, for James, the richness of
In 1854, James acted on these feelings, forming the Pini Society as a group of scholars
and explorers who valued historical artifacts and the knowledge they represented.
One of the first members was his friend, Hormuzd Rassam. In fact, Rassam worked
with James on organizing the Society into chapters. They decided on four chapters,
each managing one area of the Society’s work. The work of the Society covered exploration,
discovery of artifacts, curatorship and preservation, and research and translation.
As time passed, more people joined the Society, and its work covered more and more
of the world. James oversaw this development with satisfaction. The Society helped
numerous explorers make countless discoveries. Society members advanced archaeological
science and created translations of valuable documents.
In 1880, James had a son, Robert Pini. As Robert grew up he followed in his father’s
footsteps, working in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt with Victor Loret. Robert
was passionate about the Society and about history. His work in Egypt laid the groundwork
for many later discoveries, including Howard Carter’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamen.
Around the turn of the century, James Pini’s health began to fail, and Robert took
over leadership of the Society. His vigorous recruitment efforts grew the Society’s
membership several times over. He also began the tradition of a yearly Society
Under Robert Pini, the Society oversaw or cosponsored expeditions to the North and
South Poles, Africa, North America, South America, Asia, and Europe. Even during
the interruption of World War One, the Society continued to amass a priceless collection
of antiquities. So things went for the first half of the 20th century. The Society
attracted the best minds in the world, and made real progress in improving archaeological
site conditions worldwide. In 1927, Robert’s daughter, Jayne Pini, was born. As
the Society prospered, so did Robert’s family.
This all came under fire with the advent of World War Two. Robert was called into
the clandestine service, and he sent a flurry of expeditions that puzzled some members.
He disappeared in Germany in 1941 and was never heard from again. With no leader
to take Robert’s place, the Society drifted for a few years. Members pursued their
own separate interests. The annual Ball stopped happening in 1948. The once frequent
meetings, where members would get together and collaborate, grew fewer, then ceased
In 1980, Rebecca Jayne Pini, Jayne’s granddaughter, was born. Jayne told Rebecca
all about her family’s history, and the stories of her great-grandfather and his
legendary friends Nikola Tesla and Hiram Bingham, among others, inspired her. She
grew up regarding the end of the Society as a tragedy, and as she grew older she
dreamed of restoring it.
In 2006 Jayne Pini died unexpectedly. She left the family papers and the Society
archives to Rebecca. Rebecca decided to honor her grandmother’s memory by giving
the Society a new beginning. She hired Arkadium to create a game that would get
a new generation interested in the history of mankind.
That brings us to the present. The Society has reawakened, and you have a chance
to be a part of it!