Claude Regnier Conder was a descendent of the French-born Louis François Roubiliac, the foremost sculptor in Britain in the 18th century.
In June 1872, Lt. Claude Conder was appointed to the command of the Survey of Western Palestine in place of Captain Stewart, R.E., who had been taken ill with malaria. In 1874, following the death of his assistant, Mr. Charles Tyrwhitt-Drake, of malaria, he was joined by his friend, Lt. Kitchener Together with Sgts Black and Armstrong, R.E., they continued the work of the Survey until an attack on their camp at Safed. Both officers and several other members of the party were seriously injured, and the work of the Survey was halted until the Ottoman authorities had dealt with the ringleaders of the assault. Conder remained in Palestine during this period and then returned to England, bringing the maps and the information respecting the country which had been collected. He then prepared the material for publication which started in 1880 and continued until 1884.
In 1881 Captain Conder again took up duties for the PEF, rediscovering Kadesh in Syria and then beginning the survey of the country east of the Jordan. However, relations between Turkey and Britain were strained, and after only about 1000 sq. km had been surveyed, permission to continue was refused. As part of this exploration, Conder made a pioneering study of the late prehistoric megaliths, dolmens and other ancient remains in the area covered by his survey. Conder mastered Arabic, which he put to good use during his time in the Levant, and he studied several ancient languages of the region, including Altaic and Hittite, writing books on the subject.
Although his actual work in Palestine came to an end in 1882, Colonel Conder continued to study the geography, history, and archaeology of the country, and was the author of many books dealing with these subjects. He remained on the Executive Committee of the Fund until his death.
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