Ahmed's life changed irrevocably in 1911 when he went to work
as a water boy at the ancient archaeological site at Carchemish,
on the modern Syria-Turkey border.
There he met a young, British archaeologist called T.E.
Lawrence who would turn his world upside down.
Selim Ahmed was nicknamed Dahoum - 'the little dark one' - by his fellow Arabs. Lawrence was struck by young Dahoum's natural
intellect and he singled him out for English and Math lessons. In return Selim helped Lawrence improve his
Lawrence adopted the boy as a semi-permanent companion and trained him up as his archaeological
assistant. They went on expeditions together, worked alongside each other, swapped clothes and were rarely apart.
In the summer of 1913 Lawrence took Dahoum and the site foreman, Hamoudi, home to Oxford, where they intrigued
the locals by cycling around in their flowing robes. The Arabs were amazed by modern amenities such as hot and
cold running water and the subway system in London.
Some historians report that many Arabs working on the ancient site were 'tolerantly scandalized' by Lawrence and Dahoum's
friendship, especially when Lawrence stayed on in 1913 and Dahoum moved in with him.
Others reject any notion that their relationship was anything more than friendship and believe Lawrence encouraged
the scandalous gossip as it appealed to his sense of humor.
Whatever the truth, many agree, the few, short years with Dahoum at Carchemish were the happiest of Lawrence's life.
In June 1914, Lawrence left Dahoum as custodian to the Carchemish site. It was the last time they ever
saw each other.
When Lawrence fought his way back to northern Syria in late 1918 the news reached him that Dahoum
had died. A severe famine had hit the area in 1916 followed by a typhus epidemic. Dahoum did not live to see his lands liberated.
Lawrence wrote that the strongest motive throughout his campaign in Arabia had been a personal one, adding that it was
dead before he reached Damascus.
Mourning for his friend he dedicated The Seven Pillars of Wisdom to 'S.A', presumably
Selim Ahmed, and wrote these moving words:
"I loved you, so I drew these tides of men into my hands and wrote my will across the sky in stars to earn you Freedom,
that seven-pillared worthy house, that your eyes might be shining for me when we came..."
T.E.Lawrence | Prince
Feisal | General Allenby | King
Hussein | Dahoum | Winston Churchill
| Lowell Thomas | Auda