Different Perspectives: Archaeology and the Middle East in World War One

16th May 2017 13:00 - 30th Sep 2017 17:00
Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, Malet Place, University College London, WC1E 6BT

World War One had a profound impact in and on the Middle East, the repercussions of which are still felt today. This exhibition touches on the significant, and often emotive, events and issues that took place. It was based on the idea that at the age of 61 Flinders Petrie tried to enlist for service but could only watch as those around him put on military uniforms and as battles were fought near to or in the places he knew so well In Egypt and Palestine. Petrie was based in London throughout the war, opening a museum of Egyptian Archaeology at University College in 1915 shortly after major Zeppelin bombing raids.

The exhibition is made up of a series of panels exploring aspects of the war in the Middle East and its legacy, including a timeline of events. The panels include:

  • Ways of Seeing considers how technical advancements in map making and aviation changed the war
  • Petrie’s Pups explores what four of Petrie’s students did during the war, including becoming some of the first ‘monuments men’
  • Voices from the Region considers the use of Arab and Egyptian archaeological workforces and the impact of the war on people in the Middle East
  • The Role of Women sketches how women were involved, such as the intelligence agent Gertrude Bell and fundraiser Hilda Petrie
  • Gathering Intelligence details the exploits of some of the intelligence agents, such as T. E. Lawrence, and technical innovations
  • Petrie’s War gives an overview of Petrie’s experience of the war on the home front and his involvement in the politics of archaeology in the region
  • debates the contentious legacy of the war on people and archaeology in the region

A map and display of connections drawing together objects, people and archive material stresses the personal networks that Flinders Petrie was a part of in World War One.

The exhibition is based on the work of an amazing group of volunteers who gathered much more information than is on display. The project was supported by Rob Fleming (National Army Museum), Juliette Desplat and George Hay (National Archives), Lucia Gunning (UCL History), Amara Thornton (UCL Institute of Archaeology) as well as Carl Graves at the Egypt Exploration Society and Felicity Cobbing at the Palestine Exploration Fund.

A major part of disseminating the ideas and material were performances by University of East London BA and MA students, which took place on 7 April and 10 May 2017, under the guidance of Dr Eve Katsouraki and Tom Drayton of Pregnant Fish Theatre. A film showing highlights of these performance will be available shortly.

A Key Stage 3 History resource based on the exhibition for teachers to use will be available to use from the Autumn 2017 (date TBC).

Various events will be programmed around the exhibition until 30 September, please see here [link] for more information.

Different Perspectives is funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund with additional support from UCL Culture.