In 1919, James Henry Breasted, archaeologist and founder of the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, embarked on a year-long trip through the Middle East. His goal was to identify research opportunities throughout the area, and to obtain artifacts to bring back to Chicago. The story (from a 2010 exhibition at the Institute) was told in Archaeology Magazine.
From the UK’s National Archives, details on politics and permits regarding archaeology in Syria in the 1930s, featuring Jazz Age Adventurer Leonard Woolley:
Archaeological business as usual? Digging in the Hatay in the 1930s by Juliette Desplatt