WILLIAM MATTHEW FLINDERS
The Father of Egyptian
1853 - 1942
PHOTOGRAPHS FROM DIFFERENT
STAGES OF LIFE
(Most of these photographs are from Flinders Petrie: A Life in Archaeology
, Margaret S. Drower, Victor Gollancz Ltd, London, 1985. A 2nd edition
is from Madison: University
of Wisconsin Press, 1996.)
12 years, c. 1865
Outside Giza rock tomb
where he lived during
the Pyramid Survey
Flinders and Hilda Urlin
the time of their marriage
He was fifteen years her
Hilda and Flinders,
At Abydos, c. 1915
In his Museum, University
College, London, c. 1923.
At the opening of
his first Palestinian Exhibition at University College, July 1930,
his jubilee year.
the desert at Abydos in 1922, age 69.
Sir and Lady Petrie about
to start their Syrian tour in October, 1934. They slept in and lived
out of the bus.
Flinders and Hilda in the
garden of the American School of Oriental Research in Jerusalem
Photographing at Tell el
Ajjul in 1938.
In the hospital in
his last days.
The following is taken
from the Web Page of the Palestine Education Fund
Grandson of Captain Matthew Flinders, explorer of the coasts of Australia,
he was judged too frail to attend school and was educated at home by his
parents. In his youth, he began studying coins and weights as a boy. With
his father he took up surveying, modifying available instruments to make
them more precise. His only formal education was a University Extension Course
Under the influence of the pyramidology theories of Prof. Piazzi Smyth,
he went to Egypt in 1880 to survey the pyramids of Gizeh. Petrie's measurements
proved that Piazzi Smyth's theories were based on a logical fallacy, but
he had become 'hooked' on the archaeology of Egypt. With two brief exceptions,
he spent the rest of his career studying it. These brief exceptions were
the periods he spent excavating in Palestine.
Although these interludes were brief, they were highly significant for
Levantine archaeology. The first interlude was a six-week season of excavations
at Tell el-Hesy (now transcribed as Tell el-Hesi) in the spring of 1890.
During this short period he introduced into Palestine the concept that a
tell is a manmade mound of successive, superimposed 'cities'. He established
the dating of these 'cities' by means of their associated ceramic assemblage
and of the cross-dating of these assemblages with reference to similar finds
made in Egyptian contexts. Having thus laid the foundation for all future
work in Levantine archaeology, he returned to Egypt, where he excavated for
the next thirty years.
His second period in Palestine, 1927-1942, was at the end of his career.
At this time he investigated 'Egypt over the Border', the frontier sites
between Egypt and Canaan. He excavated a series of sites on the lower reaches
of the Wadi Ghazzeh, Tell Jemmeh, Tell Far'a, Tell Ajjul, and Sheikh Zowayd.
These sites revealed remains dating from the Chalcolithic to the Hellenistic
Petrie's most significant contribution to archaeology was in 1899 when
he developed and applied a method of statistical analysis to the material
from the prehistoric cemeteries at Naqada, Hu (Diospolis Parva), and Abadiya.
Such methods were not applied again until the 1970s, at which time sophisticated
computer programs were used, where Petrie had used slips of card.