UCL News


Press cutting: 'Excavating Egypt'

22 February 2007

"Excavating Egypt: Great Discoveries from the UCL Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology," on view now through July 22, is an exhibition with all the trappings of an historical novel.

The dogged archaeologist. The lady adventurer. A dazzling collection of clues to a lost age.

While touring Egypt in the late 19th century, the popular writer Amelia Edwards was horrified by the neglect and damage she observed at ancient Egyptian monuments and archaeological sites. …

Enter Sir William Flinders Petrie, renowned for his scientific techniques, extensive experience and scholarly work in the field of Egyptian archaeology. Petrie was among the first to map his sites in systematic fashion, documenting the exact location of toys, papyri, utensils, furniture, and the masses of pottery that Petrie recognized as being able to speak in places where the written record went silent. …

Amelia Edwards became a devoted patron to Petrie, who acknowledged Edwards' support by sending her many beautiful antiquities, including jewelry, scarabs, statuary, funerary tablets, pottery, and writings on linen and papyrus. Upon her death, Edwards bequeathed these gifts and her fortune to UCL to establish the United Kingdom's first professorial chair in Egyptology. In 1892, Petrie assumed the chairship and responsibility for what would become the UCL Petrie Museum.

Two decades and many dozens of excavations later, Petrie sold his own extensive collection to UCL, creating one of the largest and most important collections of Egyptian antiquities outside of Egypt, and sealing Petrie's reputation as the "father" of Egyptology. …

'The Berkshire Eagle' (Massachusetts)