William matthew Flinders has made great contributions to the methods and techniques of field excavations. An Egyptologist and archeologist, he was born in 1853 in Charlton Kent, England. The dating method used by archeologist in reconstructing history was invented by him. Popularly known as Mathew Petrie, his interest in Egyptology and ancient measures and weighs at a tender age, led to the publication of Inductive Metrology at the age of 22. From the year 1875 to 1880, Flinder studied British archeological sites including Stonehenge. And from 1880, he actively surveyed excavations in Palestine and Egypt. The surveys interspersed with lectures at the Universities. He managed to publish an estimated 40 voluminous prodigious output, numerous plates his autobiography and a number of popular books.

Petrie arrived in Egypt in 1880 and began excavations at the Giza pyramids. He remained at the site until 1886 and enjoyed funding from the Egyptian government. The next excavations were at the Temple of 1884 that began in 1884, Naucratis in 1885 before moving to Daphne town in 1890. In addition, Petrie excavated the Illahun, Hawara, and Ghurab in Egypt since 1888-1890 before proceeding to Maydum pyramids in 1891. In the year 1892, Petrie became the Edwards professor of Egyptology at the London university college.

In 1890, Petrie first applied the principle of sequence dating in Jerusalem in Palestine. Using approximately six weeks, Petrie was able to excavate a series of ancient occupations and identified tentative habitation dates. It was during this study that marked an important achievement in archeology. The stratigraphic study at Troy enabled the examination of successive site levels instead of the previous haphazard digging that resulted to unrelated artifacts.

At necropolis of Abydos, Petrie assisted the pyramid builders with knowledge as he continued with exploration. He excavated the El-Amarna archeological site where he discovered the Amenhotep IV rulers who lived between 1353 to 1336 BCE. He revealed the famous painted pavement and magnificent artistic items from the Armana age (14th Century BCE). Petrie discovered three thousand graves at Naqadah, Thebes and identified them as belonging to primitive ancient Egyptians.

Between the years 1898-1904 Petrie excavated the necropolis of Abydos where he unearthed the royal cenotaphs of pre-dynastic time. He proceeded to Memphis and returned to Faiyum. At Faiyum, the archaeologist discovered a magnificent a collection jewelries belonging to the Twelfth-Dynasty. Between years 1922 and 1938, Petrie spent time excavating in Palestine. In Palestine, he discovered the ruins of 10 cities at Tel-HAsi. The scientific method offered a guideline in all subsequent excavations.

Petrie is an influential figure in Egyptology’s history and his career in archeology extended for 60 years. During this time, he produced archeological evidence for all periods of Egyptian history from prehistory to the medieval times. The publication of many papers is enough evidence indicating his never-ending endeavor to recover information before facing destruction from modern developments such as urbanization and cultivation. The achievements influenced the archeology and Egyptology discipline. The sequencing dating in 1891 helped in advancing chronological methods. He used to record even the small or seemingly innocuous items thus played a significant contribution in archeology.


Drower, Margaret S. 1995. Flinders Petrie: a life in archaeology. Madison, Wis: University of Wisconsin Press.

Petrie, W. M. Flinders, Hilda Petrie, and Margaret S. Drower. 2004. Letters from the desert : the correspondence of Flinders and Hilda Petrie. Park End Place, Oxford: Aris and Phillips.

Petrie, W. M. Flinders. 2003. Seventy years in archaeology. London: Kegan Paul

Stevenson, Alice. 2012. ‘We seem to work on the same line’. A.H.L.F. Pitt Rivers and W.M.F. Petrie. Bulletin of the History of Archaeology 22(1): pp

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