Egypt in South Africa

Petrie Museum in SA

Visit from the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology, London

Whilst on holiday in Cape Town, Dr Alice Stevenson, curator at the Petrie Museum of Archaeology in London, visited Iziko Museums of South Africa on 3 January 2014 to inspect our collection of objects excavated by Sir Flinders Petrie in the 1890s and again in 1913. Stevenson has been travelling to various museums across the world to inspect and find links between artefacts in connection with excavations made by Petrie.
Sir William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) was an English Egyptologist, a pioneer of systematic methodology in archaeology and was known as the Father of Egyptology. He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, and excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt. Following each field season, after a share of the finds had been retained by Egypt; the harvest of Petrie’s discoveries was crated up and dispersed to those museums across the world that had sponsored the expeditions according to Stevenson. The old South African Museum was one of the sponsors.
Destinations as far as Japan, New Zealand and Canada have been recorded in the Petrie Museum’s archives. Some of the linen, palettes, basketry and pottery in the Grave Scene on display at the Iziko Slave Lodge form part of the above global distribution of artefacts excavated by Petrie.
Former curator, Anlen Boshoff, assisted by Iziko curator, Esther Esmyol, in conjunction with Prof. Sakkie Cornelius of the Department of Ancient Studies, University of Stellenbosch, is currently working through the Egyptian collection. Pot by pot, they are looking for clues as to the exact locations where these artefacts were discovered, piecing together the story of how the artefacts arrived in South Africa and whether there are new areas of research that can be identified with the objects.
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Dr Alice Stevenson (right), curator at the Petrie Museum in London, inspects ceramics that are being unpacked by Anlen Boshoff, ex-curator at Iziko Museums of South Africa.
Documentation on the distribution of objects to world museums. The 1913 excavation at Tarkhan is documented here. Image courtesy of the Petrie Museum.