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date: 22 September 2019

Petrie, Sir (William Matthew) Flinderslocked

(b Charlton, Kent (now in London), June 3, 1853; d Jerusalem, July 29, 1942).
  • M. S. Drower

Extract

(b Charlton, Kent (now in London), June 3, 1853; d Jerusalem, July 29, 1942).

English archaeologist and writer. He was educated at home by unconventional parents, inheriting from his father (a chemical engineer and inventor) his mathematical ability and manual dexterity and from his mother (the daughter of Matthew Flinders, the explorer and circumnavigator of Australia) his interest in antiquity. As a young man he surveyed and recorded many earthworks and prehistoric monuments in southern England; he made the first accurate survey of Stonehenge and from 1880 to 1882 measured the pyramids of Giza. Once in Egypt, he found his life’s work: to extract from the soil not only inscriptions and objets d’art but all the information about an ancient civilization that could be gleaned from the study of its artefacts. He realized the significance of pottery, hitherto discarded by excavators, as dating evidence and emphasized the importance of recording together all associated finds, such as grave groups. Excavating in the Faiyum in 1887–9...

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