William Matthew Flinders Petrie

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Petrie, William Matthew Flinders


Born June 3, 1853, in Charlton; died July 28, 1942, in Jerusalem. English Egyptologist and archaeologist. Professor at the University of London from 1892 to 1933.

Petrie pioneered the scientific method of archaeological excavation in Egypt. In 1885-86 he discovered and excavated Nau-cratis and Daphnae. Between 1888 and 1890 he discovered numerous remains in the Faiyum Oasis. In succeeding years he conducted excavations in Tell el-Amarna, Abydos (the tombs of the most ancient Pharaohs), and Neqada (Aeneolithic complexes), which is near Memphis. Especially important among Petrie’s works is his atlas of tools of all periods and peoples.


A History of Egypt, vols. 1-3. London, 1894-1905.
Prehistoric Egypt. London, 1920.
Social Life in Ancient Egypt. London, 1924.
Ancient Gaza, vols. 1-4. London, 1931-34.
Tools and Weapons Illustrated by the Egyptian Collection in University College. London, 1917.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The 40,000 artefacts collected over 300 years, from over 100 archaeological sites, include collections by Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, with highlights such as the Shrine of Taharqa, models of funerary boats, a wall painting of the daughters of Nefertiti and a set of beautiful Roman-era mummy portraits.
William Matthew Flinders Petrie first went out to Egypt in 1880, aged twenty-seven, intending to make accurate measurements of the Great Pyramid, which had been the subject of a fanciful account by the Scottish Astonomer Royal.
This incorporation was accomplished with great ingenuity by the electrical engineer William Petrie, a long-time friend of Piazzi Smyth and father of the future renowned Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie. Petrie speculated that multiplying the height of the Great Pyramid by [10.sup.9] would yield the mean distance from the earth to the sun, some 91,840,000 miles.
Proctor, the archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, and Frederick Augustus Porter Bernard, president of Columbia University in New York.
Probably the most pointed irony and enduring legacy of the debate over Great Pyramid metrology is the career of the eminent Egyptologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, who, by the time of his death in 1942, had done more than anyone before to advance the scientific exploration of Egyptian archeology.