Saturday, August 30, 2014

Petrie dish

British Egyptologist Sir William Flinders Petrie had an ego, but also a conscience. Proof of that turned up earlier this year when Guy Funnell and Amanda Hawkins found an ancient Egyptian vase while clearing a Cornish garage of his father's possessions. Petrie was known to have given artifacts discovered on his digs not only to universities and museums, but to individuals. Curator Alice Stevenson of the Petrie Museum in London was able to confirm family legend regarding the origins of the pot (ABOVE, ANOTHER IMAGE HERE) because of a never-before-seen label that had been attached. The label was commercially printed – which indicates Petrie regularly included them with his gifts – and states that the Libyan pottery from 3,000 B.C. had been discovered between 1894 and 1895. Because of the faintly pencilled number 1754, Stevenson was able to find it in the original excavation records which the museum retains. She also believes she has identified the original recipient of the gift. And she notes that Petrie had misidentified it: French scholar Jacques de Morgan established that the items from the excavation were Egyptian rather than Libyan and 600 years older than his rival first believed. Stevenson states, "It was one of the few occasions when Petrie was not only wrong, but admitted it publicly, a very unusual occurrence."

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