Flinders Petrie began his long association with ancient Egypt and the Near East when he went to Giza to survey the pyramids in 1880. He continued to dig almost until his death in Jerusalem in 1942. During his long career he revolutionised Egyptian archaeology and indeed can be said to have founded modern scientific archaeology. But this book is not concerned with his scientific work, except tangentially, as Petrie had an admirable practice of publishing his excavations soon after they were completed. These letters and journals have been selected for their vivid account of living in Egypt and Palestine over sixty years. Even more they describe Petrie's austere approach to a dig where the archaeology was everything and creature comforts near non-existent. Many anecdotes survive of life on one of Petrie's digs and the reality as revealed in these accounts is just as eccentric. Astonishingly when Flinders married Hilda she took to the Petrie system like a duck to water (usually lacking). Her accounts of life in the camp and of the workmen and villagers are just as alive and vibrant as his.
In this book anyone interested in archaeology and Ancient Egypt can experience the unique atmosphere of life on a Petrie dig.The book also includes colour reproductions of Hilda and Flinders Petrie's watercolours
Margaret Drower is formerly Reader in Ancient History at University College London, and Honorary Research Fellow in the Departments of History and Egyptology at University College London. As a young student of Egyptology in the 1930s she is also one of the last people alive to have been taught by Petrie himself at University College London. She is the author of the definitive biography of Flinders Petrie (2nd ed, University of Wisconsin Press 1995).