Archaeology

Topics: Ancient Egypt, Archaeology, Flinders Petrie Pages: 5 (1516 words) Published: October 8, 2013
Sir Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) – British archaeologist Evaluate the contribution of your chosen archaeologist to our understanding of the ancient past. 1. Topic Concept
John F. Lehman Jr. acknowledged that “We are opening up an enormous new era in archaeology. Time capsules in the deep oceans.”[1] It is true that the understandings and knowledge of the ancient past have only been made possible from the works and contributions of archaeologists; whether the contribution is diminutive or extensive, a difference will have been made. It is important to evaluate the contributions of archaeologists to determine how their discoveries have impacted on today’s knowledge of the ancient world, to decide if their works were trustworthy and reliable, and to use their methods that were successful while avoiding the errors that they made. Sir Flinders Petrie was a signicant archaeologist, and is called “the father of scientific archaeology.”

2. Name and Define
Among the numerous archaeologists who have made important discoveries about the ancient world, British archaeologist and Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942) is one who made great improvements to the techniques and methods of field excavation and invented the sequence dating method. These achievements made it possible for further discovery of remains of ancient cultures, which allowed for the reconstruction of ancient history, thus broadening the world’s understanding of the ancient past. He was particularly interested in Ancient Egypt, beginning with the Great Pyramid of Giza, and also excavated many sites of the Mycenaean civilisation.

3. Describe
Sir Flinders Petrie was born on the 3rd of June, 1853, at Charlton near Greenwich. He received his education at home due to illness, with his mother teaching him Hebrew, Latin and Greek. His father, William Petrie, an industrial engineer and surveyor, taught him how to survey accurately, giving him the foundation for his archaeological career. At the age of 19 Petrie produced the most accurate survey of Stonehenge. It is important to note that Sir Flinders Petrie did not receive any formal education on archaeology, but he did on Extension Mathematics. Sir Flinders Petrie excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt, including the Sphinx at Memphis. It is considered, by others and himself, that his most famous discovery was of the Merneptah Stele, an inscription by the Ancient Egyptian king Merneptah.

4. Explain
The methods of research and excavation employed by Sir Flinders Petrie were said to “revolutionary for his time”. At the age of eight, on seeing the excavation of Roman villa, he felt “horrified at hearing of the rough shovelling out of the contents and protested the earth ought to be pared away inch by inch to see all that was in it, and how it lay.”[2] He was against the idea of working fast and destructively during an excavation, and so his methods of excavation were patient and slow. He was also well-known for his meticulous recordings of what he discovered. His orderly record-keeping encouraged and influenced other archaeologists to do the same, advancing the way in which archaeology is performed.

Sir Flinders Petrie also devised the sequence dating method, opening up new ways of working in archaeology. He also was the first to use the method of seriation, which was matching pottery to their time period. 5. Analyse

Petrie’s discoveries in Egypt have been greatly important in the field of archaeology and ancient Egyptian history. His most important discovery was of the Merneptah Stele, an inscription by the Ancient Egyptian King Merneptah. The inscriptions revealed an account of Merneptah’s victory over the Libyans and were the first extra biblical reference to Israel. This discovery was used to assist experts studying the ethnogenesis of Israel around that time. Aside from his discovery of the Merneptah Stele, Petrie made several other significant...

Bibliography: Banh, P. (Ed.) (2008). The Great Archaeologists. Anness Publishing: Southwater.
Bacon, E. (Ed.) (1976). The Great Archaeologists and Their Discoveries. Illustrated London News.
[1] Quote from http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/archaeology.html
[2] William Matthew Flinders Petrie, Seventy Years in Archaeology, H. Holt and Company 1932. p.10
[3] Quote from http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/archaeology/flinders_petrie.html
[4] Quote from http://www.allthingswilliam.com/science.html
[5]  Petrie, Seventy Years, p.10
Johnson Poole,G. (2013). Sir Flinders Petrie. [Internet]. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Available from: http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/454163/Sir-Flinders-Petrie [Accessed on 07/04/13]
L.Sheppard, Kathleen. Flinders Petrie and Eugenics at UCL. [Internet]. Bulleting of the History of Archaeology. Available from: http://www.archaeologybulletin.org/article/view/bha.20103/45 [Accessed on 07/04/13]
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