The University of Wisconsin Press

Archaeology / Ancient History / Middle Eastern Studies


Flinders Petrie
A Life in Archaeology
Margaret S. Drower

"Authoritative, comprehensive, and fully documented. Everyone concerned with the history of Egyptology and with Petrie will have to make this fine biography their starting point of reference. Margaret Drower is scrupulously honest and gives us an admirably balanced portrait of this quite remarkable man."

Flinders Petrie has been called the "Father of Modern Egyptology"and indeed he is one of the pioneers of modern archaeological methods. This fascinating biography of Petrie was first published to high acclaim in England in 1985. Margaret S. Drower, a student of Petrie's in the early 1930s, traces his life from his boyhood, when he was already a budding scholar, through his stunning career in the deserts of Egypt to his death in Jerusalem at the age of eighty-nine. Drower combines her first-hand knowledge with Petrie's own voluminous personal and professional diaries to forge a lively account of this influential and sometimes controversial figure.

Drower presents Petrie as he was: an enthusiastic eccentric, diligently plunging into the uncharted past of ancient Egypt. She tells not only of his spectacular finds, including the tombs of the first Pharaohs, the earliest alphabetic script, a Homer manuscript, and a collection of painted portraits on mummy cases, but also of Petrie's important contributions to the science of modern archaeology, such as orderly record-keeping of the progress of a dig and the use of pottery sherds in historical dating. Petrie's careful academic methods often pitted him against such rival archaeologists as Amélineau, who boasted he had smashed the stone jars he could not carry away to be sold, and Maspero and Naville, who mangled a pyramid at El Kula they had vainly tried to break into.

"[An] admirable and immensely readable biography, Margaret Drower's account of [Petrie] does full justice to a complex and multi-faceted life that brimmed over with energy and event. You don't have to be an archaeologist to enjoy this book, although I imagine that all archaeologists will welcome it without reserve."
The Guardian

Margaret S. Drower (Mrs. C. Hackforth-Jones) has retired as a lecturer in ancient history at University College, London, where she was a reader in ancient history; she is now an honorary research fellow in the Departments of History and Egyptology. A Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, she has contributed to many books and BBC programs on the ancient Middle East.

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Drower's book is black with a greyscale image of an older man, and a title in yellow

June 1995

LC: 94-042111 PJ
528 pp.  6 x 9   90 halftones

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Paper $34.95 s
ISBN 978-0-299-14624-5
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