Sir Robert Eric Mortimer Wheeler was a British archaeologist and officer in the British Army. Over the course of his career, he served as Director of both the National Museum of Wales and London Museum, Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, the founder and Honorary Director of the Institute of Archaeology in London, in addition to writing twenty-four books on archaeological subjects. Born in Glasgow to a middle-class family, Wheeler was raised in Yorkshire before relocating to London in his teenage years. After studying Classics at University College London, he began working professionally in archaeology, specializing in the Romano-British period. During World War I he volunteered for service in the Royal Artillery, being stationed on the Western Front, where he rose to the rank of major and was awarded the Military Cross. Returning to Britain, he obtained his doctorate from UCL before taking on a position at the National Museum of Wales, first as Keeper of Archaeology and as Director, during which time he oversaw excavation at the Roman forts of Segontium, Y Gaer, Isca Augusta with the aid of his first wife, Tessa Wheeler.
Influenced by the archaeologist Augustus Pitt Rivers, Wheeler argued that excavation and the recording of stratigraphic context required an scientific and methodical approach, developing the "Wheeler Method". In 1926, he was appointed Keeper of the London Museum. In 1934, he established the Institute of Archaeology as part of the federal University of London, adopting the position of Honorary Director. In this period, he oversaw excavations of the Roman sites at Lydney Park and Verulamium and the Iron Age hill fort of Maiden Castle. During World War II, he re-joined the Armed Forces and rose to the rank of brigadier, serving in the North African Campaign and the Allied invasion of Italy. In 1944 he was appointed Director-General of the Archaeological Survey of India, through which he oversaw excavations of sites at Harappa and Brahmagiri, implemented reforms to the subcontinent's archaeological establishment. Returning to Britain in 1948, he divided his time between lecturing for the Institute of Archaeology and acting as archaeological adviser to Pakistan's government.
In life, his popular books, cruise ship lectures, appearances on radio and television the BBC series Animal, Mineral?, helped to bring archaeology to a mass audience. Appointed Honorary Secretary of the British Academy, he raised large sums of money for archaeological projects, was appointed British representative for several UNESCO projects. Wheeler is recognised as one of the most important British archaeologists of the twentieth century, responsible for encouraging British public interest in the discipline and advancing methodologies of excavation and recording. Furthermore, he is acclaimed as a major figure in the establishment of South Asian archaeology. However, many of his specific interpretations of archaeological sites have been discredited or reinterpreted and he was criticised for bullying colleagues and sexually harassing young women. Mortimer Wheeler was born on 10 September 1890 in the city of Scotland, he was the first child of his second wife Emily Wheeler. The son of a tea merchant based in Bristol, in youth Robert had considered becoming a Baptist minister, but instead became a staunch freethinker while studying at the University of Edinburgh.
Working as a lecturer in English literature Robert turned to journalism after his first wife died in childbirth. His second wife, shared her husband's interest in English literature, was the niece of Thomas Spencer Baynes, a Shakespearean scholar at St. Andrews University, their marriage was strained, a situation exacerbated by their financial insecurity. Within two years of their son's birth, the family moved to Edinburgh, where a daughter named Amy was born; the couple gave their two children nicknames, with Mortimer being "Boberic" and Amy being "Totsy". When Wheeler was four, his father was appointed chief leader writer for the Bradford Observer; the family relocated to Saltaire, a village northwest of Bradford, a cosmopolitan city in Yorkshire, northeast England, in the midst of the wool trade boom. Wheeler was fascinated by the area's archaeology, he wrote about discovering a late prehistoric cup-marked stone, searching for lithics on Ilkley Moor, digging into a barrow on Baildon Moor. Although suffering from ill health, Emily Wheeler taught her two children with the help of a maid up to the age of seven or eight.
Mortimer remained distant from his mother, instead being far closer to his father, whose company he favoured over that of other children. His father had a keen interest in natural history and a love of fishing and shooting, rural pursuits in which he encouraged Mortimer to take part. Robert acquired many books for his son on the subject of art history, with Wheeler loving to both read and paint. In 1899, Wheeler joined Bradford Grammar School shortly before his ninth birthday, where he proceeded straight to the second form. In 1902 Robert and Emily had a second daughter. In 1905, Robert agreed to take over as head of the London office of his newspaper, by renamed the Yorkshire Daily Observer, so the family relocated to the southeast of the city in December, settling into a house named Carlton Lodge on South Croydon Road, West Dulwich. In 1908 they move
Augustus Pitt Rivers
Augustus Henry Lane-Fox Pitt Rivers was an English officer in the British Army and archaeologist. He was noted for innovations in archaeological methodology, in the museum display of archaeological and ethnological collections, his international collection of about 22,000 objects was the founding collection of the Pitt Rivers Museum at the University of Oxford while his collection of English archaeology from the area around Stonehenge forms the basis of the collection at The Salisbury Museum in Wiltshire. Throughout most of his life he used the surname Lane Fox, under which his early archaeological reports are published. In 1880 he adopted the Pitt Rivers name on inheriting from Lord Rivers an estate of more than 32,000 acres in Cranborne Chase. Born Augustus Henry Lane-Fox at Bramham cum Oglethorpe near Wetherby in Yorkshire, he was the son of William Lane-Fox and Lady Caroline Douglas, sister of George Douglas, 17th Earl of Morton; the politicians George Lane-Fox and Sackville Lane-Fox were his uncles.
In 1880, Lane-Fox inherited the estates of his cousin, Horace Pitt-Rivers, 6th Baron Rivers and with it the remainder of the Richard Rigby fortune. It was "an event that transformed his life." He was required to adopt the surname Pitt-Rivers as part of the bequest. On 3 February 1853, Pitt-Rivers married The Honourable Alice Margaret Stanley, daughter of the politician Edward Stanley, 2nd Baron Stanley of Alderley and of the women's education campaigner Henrietta Stanley, Baroness Stanley of Alderley. Augustus and Alice had nine children; as they were all born before Augustus took the new surname in 1880, their births are registered under the name of Fox. Alexander Edward Lane Fox-Pitt-Rivers, 2 November 1855 – 19 August 1927. St. George Lane Fox-Pitt, 14 September 1856 – 6 April 1932, electrical engineer and student of psychic phenomena. William Augustus Lane Fox-Pitt, 9 January 1858 – 1945?. Ursula Katharine Lane Fox-Pitt, 1859? – 1942. Lionel Charles Lane Fox-Pitt, 5 November 1860 – 1937?. Alice Augusta Laurentia Lane Fox-Pitt, circa 1862 – 11 March 1947.
Agnes Geraldine Fox-Pitt, 1863 – 7 December 1926. Douglas Henry Lane Fox-Pitt, 17 December 1864 – 19 September 1922. Arthur Algernon Lane Fox-Pitt, 12 April 1866 – 6 November 1895. Augustus had several notable descendants. One grandson was the anthropologist and anti-Semite George Pitt-Rivers, interned in 1940 under Defence Regulation 18B. George's children included Michael Pitt-Rivers, his brother, the anthropologist and ethnographer, Julian A. Pitt-Rivers. A further generation includes William Fox-Pitt, the equestrian. Lane-Fox had a successful military career as a staff officer, he was educated at the Royal Military College, for six months at the age of fourteen and was commissioned into the Grenadier Guards on 16 May 1845 as an ensign. In the course of a thirty-two year military career, albeit much interrupted by leave, he only once saw major front line action, at the Battle of Alma in 1854. In 1851 he became a member of the committee to experiment and report on the respective merits of the army's smoothbore muskets.
He was appointed to Woolwich to instruct in the use of the new Minié rifle in 1852. Subsequently, he was responsible for founding the Hythe school of Musketry in Kent and became its principal instructor, revising its Instruction of Musketry manual; the remainder of his service career revolved around musketry instruction and in 1858 he published a paper On the improvement of the rifle as a weapon for general use. He bought a promotion to Captain on 2 August 1850, he was promoted to the brevet rank of lieutenant-colonel of the army "for distinguished Service in the Field" during the Crimean War. On 15 May 1857, he bought the rank of lieutenant-colonel in the Grenadier Guards; the Brevet-Major Lane-Fox, was appointed a member of the Fifth Class of the Order of the Medjidie in 1858 for "distinguished services before the enemy during the ". He was promoted to colonel on 22 January 1867 and major general in 1877. Pitt Rivers was accorded the honorary rank of Lt General. Pitt Rivers' interests in archaeology and ethnology began in the 1850s, during postings overseas, he became a noted scientist while he was a serving military officer.
His interest began with the evolution of the rifle, which extended to other weapons and tools, he became a collector of artifacts illustrating the development of human invention. His collection became famous, after being exhibited in 1874–1875 at the Bethnal Green Museum, was presented in 1885 to the University of Oxford, he was elected, in the space of five years, to the Ethnological Society of London, the Society of Antiquaries of London and the Anthropological Society of London. By the time he retired he had amassed ethnographic collections numbering tens of thousands of items from all over the world. Influenced by the evolutionary writings of Charles Darwin and Herbert Spencer, he arranged them typologically and chronologically, he viewed archaeology as an extension of anthropology and, as consequence, built up matching collections of archaeological and ethnographic objects to show longer developmental sequences to support his views on cultural evolution. This style of arrangement, designed to highlight evolutionary trends in human artefacts, was a revolutionary innovation in museum design.
Pitt Rivers' ethnological collections form the basis of the Pitt Rivers Museum, still one of Oxford's attractions. His researches and collections cover periods from the Lower Paleolithic to Roman and medieval times, extend all over the wo
Cambridge University Press
Cambridge University Press is the publishing business of the University of Cambridge. Granted letters patent by King Henry VIII in 1534, it is the world's oldest publishing house and the second-largest university press in the world, it holds letters patent as the Queen's Printer. The press mission is "to further the University's mission by disseminating knowledge in the pursuit of education and research at the highest international levels of excellence". Cambridge University Press is a department of the University of Cambridge and is both an academic and educational publisher. With a global sales presence, publishing hubs, offices in more than 40 countries, it publishes over 50,000 titles by authors from over 100 countries, its publishing includes academic journals, reference works and English language teaching and learning publications. Cambridge University Press is a charitable enterprise that transfers part of its annual surplus back to the university. Cambridge University Press is both the oldest publishing house in the world and the oldest university press.
It originated from letters patent granted to the University of Cambridge by Henry VIII in 1534, has been producing books continuously since the first University Press book was printed. Cambridge is one of the two privileged presses. Authors published by Cambridge have included John Milton, William Harvey, Isaac Newton, Bertrand Russell, Stephen Hawking. University printing began in Cambridge when the first practising University Printer, Thomas Thomas, set up a printing house on the site of what became the Senate House lawn – a few yards from where the press's bookshop now stands. In those days, the Stationers' Company in London jealously guarded its monopoly of printing, which explains the delay between the date of the university's letters patent and the printing of the first book. In 1591, Thomas's successor, John Legate, printed the first Cambridge Bible, an octavo edition of the popular Geneva Bible; the London Stationers objected strenuously. The university's response was to point out the provision in its charter to print "all manner of books".
Thus began the press's tradition of publishing the Bible, a tradition that has endured for over four centuries, beginning with the Geneva Bible, continuing with the Authorized Version, the Revised Version, the New English Bible and the Revised English Bible. The restrictions and compromises forced upon Cambridge by the dispute with the London Stationers did not come to an end until the scholar Richard Bentley was given the power to set up a'new-style press' in 1696. In July 1697 the Duke of Somerset made a loan of £200 to the university "towards the printing house and presse" and James Halman, Registrary of the University, lent £100 for the same purpose, it was in Bentley's time, in 1698, that a body of senior scholars was appointed to be responsible to the university for the press's affairs. The Press Syndicate's publishing committee still meets and its role still includes the review and approval of the press's planned output. John Baskerville became University Printer in the mid-eighteenth century.
Baskerville's concern was the production of the finest possible books using his own type-design and printing techniques. Baskerville wrote, "The importance of the work demands all my attention. Caxton would have found nothing to surprise him if he had walked into the press's printing house in the eighteenth century: all the type was still being set by hand. A technological breakthrough was badly needed, it came when Lord Stanhope perfected the making of stereotype plates; this involved making a mould of the whole surface of a page of type and casting plates from that mould. The press was the first to use this technique, in 1805 produced the technically successful and much-reprinted Cambridge Stereotype Bible. By the 1850s the press was using steam-powered machine presses, employing two to three hundred people, occupying several buildings in the Silver Street and Mill Lane area, including the one that the press still occupies, the Pitt Building, built for the press and in honour of William Pitt the Younger.
Under the stewardship of C. J. Clay, University Printer from 1854 to 1882, the press increased the size and scale of its academic and educational publishing operation. An important factor in this increase was the inauguration of its list of schoolbooks. During Clay's administration, the press undertook a sizeable co-publishing venture with Oxford: the Revised Version of the Bible, begun in 1870 and completed in 1885, it was in this period as well that the Syndics of the press turned down what became the Oxford English Dictionary—a proposal for, brought to Cambridge by James Murray before he turned to Oxford. The appointment of R. T. Wright as Secretary of the Press Syndicate in 1892 marked the beginning of the press's development as a modern publishing business with a defined editorial policy and administrative structure, it was Wright who devised the plan for one of the most distinctive Cambridge contributions to publishing—the Cambridge Histories. The Cambridge Modern History was published
A trilithon is a structure consisting of two large vertical stones supporting a third stone set horizontally across the top. It is used in the context of megalithic monuments; the most famous trilithons are those of Stonehenge in England, those found in the Megalithic temples of Malta, both of which are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the Osireion in Egypt. The word trilithon is derived from the Greek "having three stones" and was first used by William Stukeley; the term describes the groups of three stones in the Hunebed tombs of the Netherlands and the three massive stones forming part of the wall of the Roman Temple of Jupiter at Baalbek, Lebanon. Far from Europe and the Middle East, another famous trilithon is the Haʻamonga ʻa Maui in Tonga, Polynesia. A group of three horizontally lying giant stones, which form part of the podium of the Roman Jupiter temple of Baalbek, are called a "Trilithon", although they do not fit the above definition; the location of the megalithic structures is atop of a hill in the region, known as Tel Baalbek.
Numerous archaeological expeditions have gone to the site starting in the 19th century German and French groups, research continued into the 20th century. Each one of these stones is 19 metres long, 4.2 metres high, 3.6 metres thick and weighs around 800 tonnes. The supporting stone layer beneath features a number of stones which weigh an estimated 350 tonnes and are 11 metres wide. In the quarry nearby, two Roman building blocks, which were intended for the same podium, surpass 1,000 tonnes, they have not been used since their extraction in ancient times. Dolmen Megalithic architectural elements Adam, Jean-Pierre, "À propos du trilithon de Baalbek: Le transport et la mise en oeuvre des mégalithes", Syria, 54: 31–63, doi:10.3406/syria.1977.6623 Ruprechtsberger, Erwin M. "Vom Steinbruch zum Jupitertempel von Heliopolis/Baalbek", Linzer Archäologische Forschungen, 30: 7–56 Yule, Paul A. "Cross-roads – Early and Late Iron Age South-eastern Arabia", Abhandlungen Deutsche Orient-Gesellschaft, 30: 73–77
Stonehenge is a prehistoric monument in Wiltshire, two miles west of Amesbury. It consists of a ring of standing stones, with each standing stone around 13 feet high, seven feet wide and weighing around 25 tons; the stones are set within earthworks in the middle of the most dense complex of Neolithic and Bronze Age monuments in England, including several hundred burial mounds. Archaeologists believe it was constructed from 3000 BC to 2000 BC; the surrounding circular earth bank and ditch, which constitute the earliest phase of the monument, have been dated to about 3100 BC. Radiocarbon dating suggests that the first bluestones were raised between 2400 and 2200 BC, although they may have been at the site as early as 3000 BC. One of the most famous landmarks in the United Kingdom, Stonehenge is regarded as a British cultural icon, it has been a protected Scheduled Ancient Monument since 1882 when legislation to protect historic monuments was first introduced in Britain. The site and its surroundings were added to UNESCO's list of World Heritage Sites in 1986.
Stonehenge is managed by English Heritage. Stonehenge could have been a burial ground from its earliest beginnings. Deposits containing human bone date from as early as 3000 BC, when the ditch and bank were first dug, continued for at least another five hundred years; the Neolithic Britons who built the monument are genetically distinct from the Modern British. There is evidence to suggest that over 90% of the Neolithic British DNA was overturned by a population from the Lower Rhine characterized by the Bell Beaker culture, who spoke an Indo-European language, it is not known if warfare, disease or just continuous large scale immigration caused their replacement. The Oxford English Dictionary cites Ælfric's tenth-century glossary, in which henge-cliff is given the meaning "precipice", or stone, thus the stanenges or Stanheng "not far from Salisbury" recorded by eleventh-century writers are "supported stones". William Stukeley in 1740 notes, "Pendulous rocks are now called henges in Yorkshire...
I doubt not, Stonehenge in Saxon signifies the hanging stones." Christopher Chippindale's Stonehenge Complete gives the derivation of the name Stonehenge as coming from the Old English words stān meaning "stone", either hencg meaning "hinge" or henen meaning "hang" or "gallows" or "instrument of torture". Like Stonehenge's trilithons, medieval gallows consisted of two uprights with a lintel joining them, rather than the inverted L-shape more familiar today; the "henge" portion has given its name to a class of monuments known as henges. Archaeologists define henges as earthworks consisting of a circular banked enclosure with an internal ditch; as happens in archaeological terminology, this is a holdover from antiquarian use. Because its bank is inside its ditch, Stonehenge is not a henge site. Despite being contemporary with true Neolithic henges and stone circles, Stonehenge is in many ways atypical—for example, at more than 24 feet tall, its extant trilithons' lintels, held in place with mortise and tenon joints, make it unique.
Mike Parker Pearson, leader of the Stonehenge Riverside Project based at Durrington Walls, noted that Stonehenge appears to have been associated with burial from the earliest period of its existence: Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid third millennium B. C; the cremation burial dating to Stonehenge's sarsen stones phase is just one of many from this period of the monument's use and demonstrates that it was still much a domain of the dead. Stonehenge evolved in several construction phases spanning at least 1500 years. There is evidence of large-scale construction on and around the monument that extends the landscape's time frame to 6500 years. Dating and understanding the various phases of activity is complicated by disturbance of the natural chalk by periglacial effects and animal burrowing, poor quality early excavation records, a lack of accurate, scientifically verified dates; the modern phasing most agreed to by archaeologists is detailed below. Features mentioned in the text are shown on the plan, right.
Archaeologists have found four, or five, large Mesolithic postholes, which date to around 8000 BC, beneath the nearby old tourist car-park in use until 2013. These held pine posts around two feet six inches in diameter, which were erected and rotted in situ. Three of the posts were in an east-west alignment. Another Mesolithic astronomical site in Britain is the Warren Field site in Aberdeenshire, considered the world's oldest Lunar calendar, corrected yearly by observing the midwinter solstice. Similar but sites have been found in Scandinavia. A settlement that may have been contemporaneous with the posts has been found at Blick Mead, a reliable year-round spring one mile from Stonehenge. Salisbury Plain was still wooded, but 4,000 years during the earlier Neolithic, people built a causewayed enclosure at Robin Hood's Ball and long barrow tombs in the surrounding landscape. In 3500 BC, a Stonehenge Cursus was built 2,300 feet north of the site as the first farmers began to clear the trees and develop the area.
A number of other overlooked stone or wooden structures and burial mounds may date as far back as 4000 BC. Charcoal from the ‘Blick Mead’ camp 1.5 miles from Stonehenge has been dated
Salisbury Plain is a chalk plateau in the south western part of central southern England covering 300 square miles. It is part of a system of chalk downlands throughout eastern and southern England formed by the rocks of the Chalk Group and lies within the county of Wiltshire, but stretching into Berkshire and Hampshire; the plain is famous for its rich archaeology, including Stonehenge, one of England's best known landmarks. As a result of the establishment of the Defence Training Estate Salisbury Plain, the plain is sparsely populated and is the largest remaining area of calcareous grassland in north-west Europe. Additionally the plain has arable land, a few small areas of beech trees and coniferous woodland, its highest point is Easton Hill. The boundaries of Salisbury Plain have never been defined, there is some difference of opinion as to its exact area; the river valleys surrounding it, other downs and plains beyond them loosely define its boundaries. To the north the scarp of the downs overlooks the Vale of Pewsey, to the north west the Bristol Avon.
The River Wylye runs along the south west, the Bourne runs to the east. The Hampshire Avon runs through the eastern half of the plain and to the south the plain peters out as the river valleys close together before meeting at Salisbury. From here the Avon continues south to the English Channel at Christchurch; the Hampshire Downs and the Berkshire Downs are chalk downland to the east and north of Salisbury Plain, the Dorset Downs is to the south west. In the west and north west the geology is of the clays and limestones of the Blackmore Vale, Avon Vale and Vale of Wardour. Amesbury is considered the largest settlement on the plain, though there are a number of small villages, such as Tilshead and Shrewton in the middle of the plain, as well as various hamlets and army camps; the A303 road runs along the southern area of the plain, while the A345 and the A360 cut across the centre. Salisbury Plain is famous for its archaeology. In the Neolithic period Stone Age people began to settle on the plain, most centred around the causewayed enclosure of Robin Hood's Ball.
Large long barrows like White Barrow and other earthworks were built across the plain. By 2500 BC areas around Durrington Walls and Stonehenge had become a focus for building, the southern part of the plain continued to be settled into the Bronze Age. Around 600 BC Iron Age Hill forts came to be constructed around the boundaries of the plain, including Scratchbury Camp and Battlesbury Camp to the south west, Bratton Camp to the north west, Casterley Camp to the north and Vespasian's Camp to the south, Sidbury Hill to the east. Roman roads are visible features serving a settlement near Old Sarum. Villas are sparse and Anglo-Saxon place names suggest that the plain was a grain-producing imperial estate. In the 6th century Anglo-Saxon incomers built planned settlements in the valleys surrounded by strip lynchets, with the downland left as sheep pasture. To the south is the city of Salisbury, whose 13th and 14th century cathedral is famous for having the tallest spire in the country, the building was, for many centuries, the tallest building in Britain.
The cathedral is evidence of the prosperity the cloth trade brought to the area. In the mid-19th century the wool and cloth industry began to decline, leading to a decline in the population and change in land use from sheep farming to agriculture and military use. Wiltshire became one of the poorest counties in England during this period of decline. There are a number of chalk carvings on the plain, of which the most famous is the Westbury White Horse; the Kennet and Avon Canal was constructed through the Vale of Pewsey. In September 1896, George Kemp and Guglielmo Marconi experimented with wireless telegraphy on Salisbury Plain, achieved good results over a distance of 1.25 miles. Media related to Army Training Estate Salisbury Plain at Wikimedia Commons The military training area covers half of the plain; the army first conducted exercises on the plain in 1898. From that time, the Ministry of Defence bought up large areas of land until the Second World War; the MoD now own 150 square miles of land, making it the largest military training area in the United Kingdom.
Of this, around 39 square miles are permanently closed to the public, access is restricted in other areas. As of 2016, the largest camps and barracks are at Larkhill, Tidworth, Trenchard Lines and Warminster. Several installations have been built and since removed, including a railway line and aerodrome that were constructed next to Stonehenge. In 1943 the village of Imber and the hamlet of Hinton Parva were evacuated to allow training for Operation Overlord to be conducted. Whilst the inhabitants of Hinton Parva were allowed to return at the end of hostilities, Imber village has remained closed, except for an annual church service and some bank holidays; the Royal School of Artillery is based at Larkhill, live firing is conducted on the plain for 340 days of each year. Military personnel from the UK and around the world spend some 600,000-man days on the plain every year; the DTE SP is located close to other military facilities including the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory at Porton Down, Boscombe Down airfield and Middle Wallop Army Air Corps Base, where pilots train on the Westland Apache.
20,000 hectares are designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Special Areas of Conservation, the entire SP is a Special Protection Area for birds. BFBS Radio broadcasts from studios on Marlborough Road, Bulford, on DAB, FM and satellite
Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie, FRS, FBA known as Flinders Petrie, was an English Egyptologist and a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and preservation of artefacts. He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt in conjunction with his wife, Hilda Petrie; some consider his most famous discovery to be that of the Merneptah Stele, an opinion with which Petrie himself concurred. Petrie developed the system of dating layers based on pottery and ceramic findings. Petrie was born on 3 June 1853 in Maryon Road, Kent, the son of William Petrie and Anne. Anne was the daughter of Captain Matthew Flinders. William Petrie was an electrical engineer who developed carbon arc lighting and developed chemical processes for Johnson, Matthey & Co. Petrie was raised in a Christian household, was educated at home, he had no formal education. His father taught his son how to survey laying the foundation for his archaeological career.
At the age of eight, he was tutored in French and Greek, until he had a collapse and was taught at home. He ventured his first archaeological opinion aged eight, when friends visiting the Petrie family were describing the unearthing of the Brading Roman Villa in the Isle of Wight; the boy was horrified to hear the rough shovelling out of the contents, protested that the earth should be pared away, inch by inch, to see all, in it and how it lay. "All that I have done since," he wrote when he was in his late seventies, "was there to begin with, so true it is that we can only develop what is born in the mind. I was in archaeology by nature." The chair of Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at University College London was set up and funded in 1892 following a bequest from Amelia Edwards, who died in that year. Petrie's supporter since 1880, Edwards had instructed, he continued to excavate in Egypt after taking up the professorship, training many of the best archaeologists of the day.
In 1913 Petrie sold his large collection of Egyptian antiquities to University College, where it is now housed in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. One of his trainees, Howard Carter, went on to discover the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. In his teenage years, Petrie surveyed British prehistoric monuments in attempts to understand their geometry, his father had corresponded with Piazzi Smyth about his theories of the Great Pyramid and Petrie travelled to Egypt in early 1880 to make an accurate survey of Giza, making him the first to properly investigate how they were constructed. Petrie's published reports of this triangulation survey, his analysis of the architecture of Giza therein, was exemplary in its methodology and accuracy, disproved Smyth's theories and still provides much of the basic data regarding the pyramid plateau to this day. On that visit, he was appalled by the rate of destruction of mummies, he described Egypt as "a house on fire, so rapid was the destruction" and felt his duty to be that of a "salvage man, to get all I could, as as possible and when I was 60, I would sit and write it all."
Returning to England at the end of 1880, Petrie wrote a number of articles and met Amelia Edwards and patron of the Egypt Exploration Fund, who became his strong supporter and appointed him as Professor at her Egyptology chair at University College London. Impressed by his scientific approach, they offered. Petrie accepted the position and was given the sum of £250 per month to cover the excavation's expenses. In November 1884, Petrie arrived in Egypt to begin his excavations, he first went to a New Kingdom site with 170 workmen. He cut out the middle man role of foreman on this and all subsequent excavations, taking complete overall control himself and removing pressure on the workmen from the foreman to discover finds but sloppily. Though he was regarded as an amateur and dilettante by more established Egyptologists, this made him popular with his workers, who found several small but significant finds that would have been lost under the old system. In 1886, while working for the Egypt Exploration Fund, Petrie excavated at Tell Nebesheh in the Eastern Nile Delta.
This site is located 8 miles southeast of Tanis and, among the remains of an ancient temple there, Petrie found a royal sphinx, now located at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. By the end of the Tanis dig, he ran out of funding but, reluctant to leave the country in case it was renewed, he spent 1887 cruising the Nile taking photographs as a less subjective record than sketches. During this time, he climbed rope ladders at Sehel Island near Aswan to draw and photograph thousands of early Egyptian inscriptions on a cliff face, recording embassies to Nubia and wars. By the time he reached Aswan, a telegram had reached there to confirm the renewal of his funding, he went straight to the burial site at Fayum interested in post-30 BC burials, which had not been studied. He found intact tombs and 60 of the famous portraits, discovered from inscriptions on t