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A Future for the Past: Petrie’s Palestinian Collection exhibition at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS

Publication date: Jan 9, 2007 10:44:48 AM

A unique UCL exhibition showcasing for the very first time many of the extraordinary finds made by the archaeologist Sir Flinders Petrie in the ancient lands of Palestine will be opening today at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, in central London.

Petrie was Professor of Egyptology at UCL and worked in the area around modern Gaza for much of the 1920s and 1930s, with the sites where he dug now divided between the modern states of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Some of the sites where he dug included major towns and trading centres which had flourished over 4,000 years earlier, and where he found beautiful pottery and jewellery along with a wide variety of tools. This is the first time that many of these unique artefacts – housed in UCL’s Institute of Archaeology – have been on public display.

The exhibition will include a reconstructed ‘corner’ of the interior of a dighouse, to show what an original 1930s dighouse would have looked like, and interactive areas where visitors will be able to try archaeological techniques for themselves. Visitors will also be able to sit in a reconstructed Bedouin tent and watch footage of excavations in the region.

The exhibition will also focus on issues relating to the heritage of Palestine, and ask how identity and appearance have been linked together, how modern governments have adopted archaeology as a political tool, and what it is that ties the past to the present.

This exhibition is showing alongside The Book 50,320 Names by Khalil Rabah, presented by The Palestinian Museum of Natural History and Humankind and supported by ArtSchool Palestine, which runs from 8 January to 24 March 2007.

Dr Rachael Sparks, UCL Lecturer and Keeper of Collections, says: “Ancient Palestine has much to offer the modern world. The past holds a fascination for people of all ages, cultures and faiths, and archaeology allows us to experience this rich heritage in a very immediate and personal way. The exhibition aims to be a positive force for change. An understanding of the past should lead to dialogue, tolerance and the courage to take a long term view.”

Notes for Editors

1. A Future for the Past: Petrie's Palestinian Collection opens at the Brunei Gallery, SOAS, University of London, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London, WC1, on 9th January 2007 and runs until 24 March 2007. Admission is from Tuesday to Saturday between 10.30 am and 5pm. Admission is free, closed Sundays and Mondays.

2. For further information or images, please contact: Dominique Fourniol, UCL Media Relations, on: 0207 679 9728 or d.fourniol@ucl.ac.uk.

3. Along with the collections, a series of events will be taking place throughout the period of the exhibitions. Details are available at this web page. www.ucl.ac.uk/archaeology/future-past/

4. The exhibition catalogue will be available for purchase during the exhibition priced £20.