W. M. Flinders Petrie

British Egyptologist; he was born in Charlton, Kent, 3 June 1853, the son of William P. a civil engineer and surveyor, and Anne daughter of Capt. Matthew Flinders, the explorer of Australia; as a boy he collected coins and was later introduced by R. W. Poole (q.v.) to Amelia Edwards (q.v.); his interest in ancient Egypt was first aroused at the age of thirteen by Piazzi Smyth’s (q.v.) book on the Great Pyramid; he attended no schools or college and this lack of formal education was both his strength and weakness in later life, for while he pursued his aims directly and was not given to accepting out-of date methods or theories, he also ignored the views of many who were making valuable contributions to Egyptology and archaeology; he received a considerable training in British archaeology and prehistory, and with his father surveyed Stonehenge in 1872; from this period also dated his lifelong interest in weights and measures; he next surveyed a great many earthworks and archaeological remains in southern England, 1875-80, making a large number of plans of these; he first went to Egypt to make a survey of the Pyramids, 1880-2; he dug for the EEF, 1884-6; he quarrelled with them and decided to set up an archaeological body of his own and thus be completely independent of all outside control; he had a hard struggle at first but from1887 excavated regularly with the help of J. Haworth (q.v.) and M. Kennard (q.v.); he founded the Egyptian Research Account, 1894, later enlarged as the British School of Archaeology in Egypt; he rejoined the EEF and worked for them again, 1896-1905; by the wish of Miss Edwards he was appointed to the first chair in Egyptology in England, Edwards Professor, University College London, 1892-1933; Emeritus Prof. 1933-42; Kt., 1923; FRS, 1902; FBA, 1904; DCL, Oxford, 1892; LittD Cantab, 1900; LLD, Edinburgh, 1896, Aberdeen, 1906; DLitt, DSc, PhD, Strass., 1897; Member of the Royal Irish Acad., and the Amer. Philos. Soc.; he married Hilda Urlin (see above), 1897; he inaugurated the first systematic archaeological work in the Near East, and during 42 years excavated more sites than Mariette (q.v.); he dug at the following places, Tanis,1884; Naukratis, 1884-5; Daphnae, 1886; Nebesha, 1886; Hawara, Biahmu, and Arsinoe (Crocodilopolis), 1888, and Hawara, 1910-11; Illahun-Kahun, 1889-90, 1914-19; Gurob, 1889-90; Maidum, 1891, 1909; El-Amarna, 1891-2; Koptos, 1893-4; Naqada and Ballas, 1895; Thebes Ramesseum, etc., 1895-6; Qurna, 1908; Deshasha, 1897; Dendera, 1897-8; Abadiya-Hu (Diospolis), 1898-9; Abydos, 1899-1903, 1921; Ehnasya, 1903-4; Buto, 1904; Sinai - Wadi Maghara and Serabit, 1904-5; Tell el-Yahudiya, 1905-6; Tell er-Reteba, 1905-6; Saft el-Hinna, 1906; Giza and Rifa, 1906-7; Athribis,1907; Memphis, 1908-13; Tarkhan, 1911-13; Sidmant, 1920-1; Haraga; Shurafa, 1911; Heliopolis, 1912; Qau, 1923-4; he also dug for a season in Palestine in 1890, and later abandoned Egypt in 1926 to work until 1938 on Hyksos and other sites in Palestine notably Gaza, 1927-34; he made more major archaeological discoveries than any other archaeologist, the city of Naukratis whose whereabouts had been unknown, the site of Kahun, many fine objects from El-Amarna, the great predynastic cemetery at Naqada, archaic material from the royal tombs of Abydos, the Israel stela of King Mereneptah and the magnificent jewels from Lahun, to list but a few; Petrie advanced the whole approach to archaeology, his methods and techniques being revolutionary in the Near East at the time; he took Furtwängler’s method of dating painted and decorated pottery as an archaeological chronometer and expanded it so that it could be used for all types for the first time, systematically arranging predynastic Egyptian material, and thus inventing sequence dating; in 1891 he established synchronisms through pottery with Greece aided by his former pupil E. Gardner (q.v.), again evolving a new method; he also discovered the first texts in the Sinaitic script; his greatest contribution was his emphasis on the importance of observing everything found, and his insistence on the typological study of all objects, however humble; he exercised a profound influence on all museums during the 1880s which at that time did not know how to conserve antiquities properly; his method of fund-raising through the sale of antiquities to museums gained him his independence and also provided him with a much wider variety of objects for study; his other great contribution was the discovery of the earliest historical and predynastic periods, hitherto unsuspected; Petrie trained many assistants who continued his work; every year he held exhibitions to arouse public interest in discovering more sites; he amassed a very great collection of antiquities, which is housed at University Coll. London; this collection was bought from him in 1913 by public subscription, the donors including Walter Morrison and Robert Mond (q.v.); he founded the journal Ancient Egypt in 1914, and edited it for twenty years; Petrie published about 1,000 books, articles, and reviews (see below), the most important works being, Inductive Metrology, 1877; The Pyramids and Temples of Gizeh, 1883; Tanis. Part I, 1883-4, 1885; Naukratis. Part I, 1884-5, with E. Gardner and others, 1886; Racial Photographs from the Egyptian Monuments, 1887; Tanis, Part II. Nebesheh (Am) and Defenneh (Tahpanhes), with A. S. Murray and others,1888; A Season in Egypt, 1888; Two Hieroglyphic Papyri from Tanis. Part II. The Geographical Papyrus (An Almanack), with H. Brugsch, 1889; Hawara, Biahmu and Arsinoe, 1889; Historical Scarabs, 1889; Kahun, Gurob and Hawara, with F. Fl. Griffith and others, 1890; Illahun, Kahun and Gurob, 1889-90, with A. H. Sayce and others, 1892; Ten years digging in Egypt, 1881-1891, 1892; Tell el Amarna, with A. H. Sayce and others 1894; A History of Egypt, 1st ed., 3 vols., 1894-1905; Egyptian Decorative Art, 1895; Egyptian Tales, 2 vols., 1895; Koptos, with D. G. Hogarth, 1896; Naqada and Ballas, 1895, with J. E. Quibell and others, 1896; Six Temples at Thebes, 1896, with W. Spiegelberg, 1897; Deshasheh, 1897, with F. Ll. Griffith, 1898; Religion and Conscience in Ancient Egypt, 1898; Syria and Egypt, from the Tell el Amarna Letters, 1898; Dendereh, 1898, 2 pts., with F. Ll. Griffith and others, 1900; The Royal Tombs of the First Dynasty, 1900, pt. i, 1900; The Royal Tombs of the Earliest Dynasties, 1901, pt. ii, with F. Ll. Griffith, 1901; Diospolis Parva. The cemeteries of Abadiyeh and Hu, 1898-9, with A. C. Mace, 1901; Abydos, pt. i, with A. E. Weigall, 1902; Abydos, pt. ii, with F. Ll. Griffith, 1903; Ehnasya, 1904, with C. T. Currelly, 1904; Methods and Aims in Archaeology, 1904; Roman Ehnasya (Herakleopolis Magna) 1904, 1905; Hyksos and Israelite Cities, with J. G. Duncan, 1906; The Religion of Ancient Egypt, 1905; Researches in Sinai, with C. T. Currelly, 1906; Gizeh and Rifeh, with Sir H. Thompson and W. E. Crum, 1907; Athribis, with J. H. Walker and others, 1908; The Arts and Crafts of ancient Egypt, 1909; Memphis I, with J. H. Walker, 1909; The Palace of Apries, (Memphis II), with J. H. Walker, 1909; Personal Religion in Egypt before Christianity, 1909; Qurneh, with J. H. Walker, 1909; Meydum and Memphis III, with E. Mackay and others, 1910; Historical Studies, with E. B. Knobel and others, 1911; Roman Portraits and Memphis IV, 1911; Egypt and Israel, 1911; The Revolutions of Civilization, 1911; The Formation of the Alphabet, 1912; The Labyrinth, Gerzeh and Mazghuneh, with G. A. Wainwright and others, 1912; The Hawara Portfolio, 1913; Tarkhan and Memphis V, with G. A. Wainwright and others, 1913; Tarkhan II, 1914; Amulets, 1914; Handbook of Egyptian antiquities collected by Flinders Petrie, exhib. at University Coll. Gower St, 1915; Heliopolis, Kafr Ammar and Shurafa, with E. Mackay and others, 1915; Scarabs and Cylinders with names, 1917; Tools and Weapons, 1917; Eastern Exploration. Past and Future, 1918; Some Sources of Human History, 1919; Prehistoric Egypt, 1920; Corpus of Prehistoric Pottery and Palettes, 1921; Lahun II, with G. Brunton and others, 1923; Social Life in Ancient Egypt, 1923; Sedment, 2 vols. 1924; Religious Life in Ancient Egypt, 1924; Ancient Egyptians, Div. I, no. 11 of Descriptive Sociology, fol., 1925; Buttons and design scarabs, 1925; Tombs of the Courtiers and Oxyrhynkhos, with A. H. Gardiner and others, 1925; Ancient Weights and Measures, 1926; Glass Stamps and Weights, 1926; Objects of daily use, 1927; Qau and Badari. I, 1927; Gerar, 1928; Beth-Pelet I (Tell Fara), with O. Tufnell, 1930; Antaeopolis. The tombs of Qau, 1930; Decorative patterns of the Ancient World, 1930; Ancient Gaza. Tell El Ajjul, 5 vols. 1931-52; Seventy Years in Archaeology, 1931; Measures and Weights, 1934; Shabtis. 1935; Anthedon. Sinai, with J. C. Ellis, 1937; The Funeral Furniture of Egypt, 1937; Egyptian Architecture, 1938; The Making of Egypt, 1939; Wisdom of the Egyptians, 1940; posth. pub., Ceremonial Slate Palettes. Corpus of Proto-Dynastic Pottery, with H. Petrie and M. A. Murray; 66 of these are quarto vols.; his most important finds are in the Egyptian Museum, Cairo and other museums in England and America, but his collection of Palestinian pottery is in the Institute of Archaeology, London, with whose foundation he was involved; 113 of his notebooks and his distribution lists are kept in the Petrie Museum, University Coll. (B. Adams, JEA 61 (1975), 108, 110-1) and other papers are in the Griffith Institute, Oxford (ibid., 109) and the EES Lucy Gura Archive; portraits by P. A. de Lászlo are in Univ. Coll. Old Refectory and the Petrie Collection, others by G. F. Watts and de Lászlo in the National Portr. Gallery and the Ashmolean Museum, and a small one by Mrs Brunton in the Edwards Library; Petrie died in Jerusalem, 28 July 1942.

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