Petrie, Sir William Matthew Flinders

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.
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Petrie, Sir William Matthew Flinders

Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (pē´trē), 1853–1942, English archaeologist, a noted Egyptologist. He excavated ancient remains in Britain (1875–80), Egypt (1880–1924), and Palestine (1927–38) and was (1892–1933) professor of Egyptology at University College, London. In 1894 he founded the Egyptian Research Account, which became (1905) the British School of Archaeology in Egypt. His most important excavations were at Memphis, but he made many other outstanding discoveries. Among these are the sites of Greek settlements at Naucratis (1885) and Daphnae (1886); tombs of the first dynasty at Abydos (1899); the stele of Merneptah at Thebes (1896), inscribed with the earliest known Egyptian reference to Israel; and ruins of 10 cities at Tel-el-Hesy (S of Jerusalem). His writings include many works on ancient Egypt, Methods and Aims in Archaeology (1904), and Seventy Years in Archaeology (1931). He edited A History of Egypt (6 vol., rev. ed. 1923–27), of which he wrote the first three volumes. A tireless and meticulous excavator, Petrie was responsible for greatly advancing the methodology of archaeology. He was particularly innovative in the interpretation of deeply stratified deposits, undertaking the seriation of undecorated pottery and demonstrating how ceramics from Egypt could be used to establish the age of archaeological strata outside Egypt, a technique known as cross-dating.

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