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Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853-1942)

Petrie was born in Charlton, Kent on 3 June 1853. He was the son of an engineer, and grandson of Matthew Flinders, the explorer of Australia. Petrie had no formal education, but became interested in Egypt after reading a book about the Great Pyramid when he was thirteen. He first went to Egypt to survey the pyramids in 1880.

Petrie excavated in Egypt for the Egypt Exploration Fund (EEF) from 1884 to 1886, but felt he needed more independence. In 1894, he founded his own archaeological body, the Egyptian Research Account, which later became the British School of Archaeology in Egypt. Later, Petrie rejoined the EEF and excavated for them between 1896 and 1905. In 1892 he was appointed as Edwards professor at University College London, the first person to hold a chair in Egyptology in Britain. He later abandoned Egypt to work on Hyksos sites in Palestine and Gaza. Flinders Petrie died in Jerusalem in 1942.

Petrie's methods were revolutionary for his time. He placed great emphasis on the observation of everything found, and the typological study of all objects. He probably made more major discoveries than any other archaeologist, and his vast collection of antiquities is now at the Petrie Museum, London. Petrie published over a thousand books, articles and reviews.

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