Monday, January 08, 2007

An Opinion

Who said and when?

The real problem is the incapacity of the Arab to make use of his land. It is increased by an ancestral preference for the desert leading to destroying trees on Arab land as well as anyone's else's. The country 1300 years ago (before the Arab era) was closely inhabited....for 1300 years the land has been desolate. Is that a title to have the right to keep it so?...Cooperation with the Jew and learning from him, will save more to the Arab than any other policy.

Sir William Matthews Flinders Petrie,
The Palestine Post

as recorded by Abraham Rabinovitch, Jerusalem Post Magazine, June 8, 1990, p. 19


In 1890, Petrie made the first of his many forays into Palestine, leading to much important archaeological work. His six-week excavation of Tell el-Hesi (which was mistakenly identified as Lachish) that year represents the first scientific excavation of an archaeological site in the Holy Land.

At another point in the late nineteenth-century (year needed), Petrie surveyed a group of tombs in the Wadi al-Rababah (the biblical Hinnom) of Jerusalem, largely dating to the Iron Age and early Roman periods. Here, in these ancient monuments, Petrie discovered two different metrical systems.

Petrie was knighted in 1923 for services to British archaeology and Egyptology. In 1926, the focus of Petrie’s work shifted permanently to Palestine. He began excavating several important sites in the southwestern region of Palestine, including Tell el-Jemmeh and Tell el-Ajjul. In 1933, on retiring from his professorship, he moved permanently to Jerusalem, where he lived with Lady Petrie at the British School of Archaeology, then temporarily headquartered at the American School of Oriental Research (today called the Albright Institute).

Upon his death in Jerusalem in 1942, influenced by his interest in eugenics, Petrie donated his head to science, specifically the Royal College of Surgeons of London, so that it could be studied for its high intellectual capacity. It was duly severed and the body, minus its head, was interred separately in the Protestant Cemetery on Mt. Zion. However, due to the wartime conditions in the area (then still under threat from Rommel's advance in the North African campaign until the Second Battle of El Alamein later that year), his head was delayed in transit from Jerusalem to London, and was eventually lost.

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