It is not certain why Gilbert returned to Greece in May 1924. In all likelihood, he was sent on a mission to the East by Roberto Paribeni, the director of Italian Missions in the Levant, although the evidence is only circumstantial.

One possible destination for Gilbert was Albania. Over the centuries it had been part of the Roman Empire as well as later dominated by Naples and Venice. With the disappearance of both the Ottoman and Austrian Empires from the Balkan peninsula, Mussolini hoped to exploit the opportunity by making use of Albania against the other Balkan states. He concluded a commercial treaty with the Albanian Prime Minister, Ahmed Zogu (later King Zog). 

In addition, the Italians also wanted to counter the influence of the French who had created an archaeological mission to Albania in 1923. In reaction, Paribeni sent a young archaeologist Luigi Ugolini to conduct two exploratory missions in 1924 to locate promising sites in Albania. In Vergil’s epic poem, the Trojan prince Aeneas escaped the flames of Troy after its capture by the Greeks to found a new city in the West, i.e., Rome, and during his voyage west Aeneas stopped at many lands, some of which the Italian Government now wanted to exploit for propaganda, such as the Graeco-Roman harbour town of Butrint on the Adriatic coast in Albania opposite Corfu. Anything prehistoric, i.e. “Trojan,” or Roman excavated there would be grist for Paribeni’s mill. It would have been completely in character for Paribeni to have asked Gilbert to play a political role in Albanian archaeology.

The internal political situation in Albania was becoming increasingly unstable in 1924, however. Political assassinations in April united the opposition against the conservative Ahmed Zogu. Throughout May, the government disintegrated and the army gradually supported the growing insurrection. When Zogu fled, the Harvard-educated Orthodox bishop Fan Noli led a leftist coup on June 10 which, however, was defeated militarily a few months later by Zogu. This increasing political instability was probably the reason for Gilbert’s decision in late May that he should bypass Albania.

Gilbert left Athens for Constantinople on Sunday 25 May. He wrote on a postcard: “Leaving tomorrow for Constant[inople] & I don’t know when back. Don’t think Trebizond poss. or Albania advisable.” (Saturday, 24 May 1924)