> Petrie is the source of much of what is wrong with
> Egyptology. He designed it around 19th century
> science and then it was never updated to 20th
> century science. Now it's two centuries behind.
> He believed the same nonsense that's believed
> today even though he was not the first to assume
> changeless superstitious people dragged tombs [sic]
> up ramps. Just about everyone after Petrie did.
> Yes, a great deal of what we call "Egyptology" is
> divining pot shards and prestidigitating bone
> orientations. At least this is where most of the
> real knowledge, actual knowledge, of ancient
> societies exist. The rest is mere speculation
> based on the assumption that modern man is the
> pinnacle of creation and the ancients were
> primitive, ignorant, and less refined versions of
> In Petrie's defense I'm sure he would have kept on
> top of advances in science and technology if he
> had only lived a couple centuries. It's a shame
> Egyptology dropped the ball.
And on he bangs about “Egyptology”, as if no one had explained to him the distinction between Egyptology and Egyptian Archaeology, widely recognised outside North America and certainly relevant to the case of Petrie and the chair he held at UCL.
Let’s look at some numbers.
“19th century science”: as if science remained static for 100 years, when in reality the 19th century saw an explosion of knowledge. Let’s see how just one aspect of this explosion was visualised by Buckminster Fuller:
We see that it started in the 18th century and continued past 1900, with a lot happening in the years intervening. This is the reality of the growth of knowledge. Using “19th century” as a label of disparagement is clueless beyond words.
The king of clads appears to have forgotten the Wikipedia article he quoted:
William Matthew Flinders Petrie was born in 1853 and died in 1942. He first went to Egypt in 1880, became Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology in 1892 and retired in 1933. The greater part of his professional career in archaeology took place during the 20th century. The theory our king of the coin finds so objectionable was published in 1930: you will find the relevant article in this journal, pp. 33–9:
As we have already seen, Flinders Petrie was “a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artefacts”. He was an innovator. He didn’t just reproduce the methods of his predecessors, most of whom by later standards would not be recognised as archaeologists. Where someone would get the idea that Petrie “designed” Egyptology and “designed it around 19th century science”, escapes me.
“Now it’s two centuries behind.” Now, unless I’m missing something, that takes us back to 1817, some 36 years before Petrie was born and 5 years before Champollion’s Lettre à M. Dacier:
Need I point out how unserious this is? More realistic would be to note that Petrie retired less than one century ago.
That what we have here is a weird fringe fantasy of Egyptology (conflated with Egyptian Archaeology) scarcely needs labouring. Has its author ever looked at (say) the Journal of Egyptian Archaeology? I can only doubt it.