The School was founded in London in 1932 as a memorial to the life and work of Gertrude Bell.
Until recently, the School maintained premises (including a comprehensive library) in Baghdad, where it is known as the British Archaeological Expedition to Iraq. As there is no immediate prospect of resuming fieldwork in Iraq, the School has been obliged to shed its commitments there in terms of staff and premises and has now vacated the Expedition house in Baghdad. The library and other effects are being temporarily stored in the British and French Embassies. The posts of permanent expatriate staff (Director, Assistant Director, Secretary-Librarian) have been frozen. However, the Council of the School firmly intends that the School should return to pursue its academic activities in Iraq, for which it has the warm encouragement of the Iraqi Directorate of Antiquities, when circumstances permit. The School is also concerned with the Gulf and the Mesopotamian part of Syria. It is now sponsoring renewed work at Chagar Bazar (NE Syria) under the joint direction of Dr Augusta McMahon (University of Cambridge) and Professor O. Tunca (University of Liège). In addition, in Autumn 1998 Dr Harriet Crawford (University College, London) and Dr Rob Carter began work in the Es-Subiyah area about 60 kms N.E. of Kuwait city, where a number of sites with Ubaid pottery on the surface have been identified.