The Headless Archaeologist

World renown archaeologist Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie was honored yesterday at his grave site in the Protestant Cemetery just outside the Old City of Jerusalem on what is known as Mount Zion or the westernmost hill of Jerusalem. More than 100 people gathered for this rather eccentric archaeologist who some have considered the father of modern archaeology. His methodology at Tel El-Hesi in what was British Mandate Palestine revolutionized the field. But we should also note his small discovery of the Merneptah Stele which is the earliest recorder evidence for th name Israel outside of the Hebrew Bible.

All that remains in the cemetery is his headless body since he saw fit to donate his head to science which was subsequently ignored/lost in the Royal College of Surgeons. Shimon Gibson, a noted archaeologist himself, is said to have finally found his after nearly 70 years. What a journey?! You can’t make this stuff up.

“More than a hundred people gathered in Jerusalem to remember Sir Flinders Petrie, one of the fathers of modern archaeology, in the lovely, little-known cemetery on Mt. Zion where most of him was buried 70 years ago this week.

A towering figure in the study of Egyptology and biblical history, the brilliant, driven and eccentric Briton is no longer a household name. But a memorial for Petrie organized by the Israel Antiquities Authority on Monday at the Protestant Cemetery, just outside the walled Old City, nonetheless drew a capacity crowd of local archaeologists, Bible scholars and aficionados of the ancient past.

Petrie’s modest grave — which houses all of his body except for his head — is marked simply with his name and an ankh, the Egyptian hieroglyph for “life.”

Before Petrie’s groundbreaking work in Egypt and Palestine in the late 1800s and early twentieth century, many archaeologists looked chiefly for spectacular finds and simply discarded the rest. Petrie “established that every single find is important” and could be used to decode history, archaeologist Gabriel Barkay told those gathered at the cemetery…[See the rest here —The Times of Israel]

HT: J. Lauer


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