Thursday, 13 August 2009

Framing the Archaeologist: Archival Photographs

Images 1 - 20 are photographs from within the Petrie Museum archive collection. In most cases the images are accompanied by extracts from Petrie's journals and publications, either from within the museum or from the Griffith Institute, Oxford.

Journal extracts are courtesy of the Griffith Institute, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and their permission to publish on this site is gratefully acknowledged.

We won't display all this information in the exhibition!

Please feel free to comment on the photographs - we would like to know what you think about them in terms of the history of photography, art history, excavation and archaeology and anthropology. We then hope to use these comments in the exhibition.

Image 1 - Petrie at Giza (1880 - 1883)

Images 1 - 4 are from Petrie's excavations in Giza, when he was first in Egypt (1880 - 1883) and from his excavation in 1888.

On the tomb-chapel where Petrie lived (Drower 2004: 14):
“We reached the Pyramid about 10; a lovely morning with delicate mare’s tail sky, and the pyramids, one side warm with sunshine, the other grey blue with slight haze. I then looked over all the tombs available; the Arab village has been moved since C.P.S. was here, and his tomb is no longer to be had. Weyman Dixon’s is however all ready to go into, Ali having the key and door and 2 windows perfect. So I decided to take that, at least for the first.”

Image 2 - Sheikh Omar, Giza 1888

On Sheikh Omar:

“I saw Smyne who showed me his testimonials, and wanted to know if I required a cook; also an old Sheikh Omar about whom Ali shakes his head; he has some testimonials, but he is of no authority here, and only hovers about to deal in antiquities, both genuine and largely otherwise.” (21.12.1880)

Image 3 - Sheikh Seidi, Giza 1888

Image 4 - Ali Jabri, Giza 1888

Of his first dinner with Grant, on Saturday 18th December 1880, Petrie records:

“He considers it quite safe to go and settle in with Ali Gabri (not Dobree as C.P.S. writes it) as head-man, giving the shekh occasional bakksheesh fully £1 a month, but no great lump at last: they are too much head to mouth to do that. He says, as Highet said, and Baedecker also, that there is no chance of a raid, still less of personal violence, that even nothing large would be ventured on, or any regular stealing, but only appropriation of trifles and attempts at imposition; and that Ali would be above that, as C.P.S. says. He told me that some of the Pyramid Arabs are nearly every day in Cairo; so often, that it is not worth while to go out there to find Ali, as he might be out; I therefore, as he recommended, went to the Oriental Hotel and to Shepherd’s and asked the door attendants to send any of the Pyramid Arabs they might see to Dr. Grant; and he will get Ali Gabri over to his house, and there make a personal settlement with him and me.”

(20.12.1880, Drower 2004: 13-14):

“there stood Ali Gabri with a card from Mr. Grant, saying that if I would come with him to the Dr’s we would settle matters. So off I started, and chatted to Ali on the way; he speaks very fair English, and though no beauty he has a very pleasant and trustworthy face, looking calm, simple, decided and straight forward, a man whom I would trust without a recommendation; and considering the excellent character given him by C.P.S., Weyman Dixon, Mr.Gill, and Dr.Grant, I felt every confidence in him.”
“I had written out all that I thought necessary to settle, and Dr. G. took my paper and talked over each point with Ali Gabri in Arabic. Ali saying that regular Bakhsheesh to the shekh was quite unnecessary, only giving when any special service was required. Having settled it all, and engaged Ali at £1 per week from that time forward, (he saying that he did it for love of Mr.Smyth and Mr.Gill and not for the sake of money) we then left.”

“I then looked over his testimonials, which he was anxious I should see; they speak of him in even higher terms than I had heard before; C.P.S., Dixon, Watson, and Gill, and another traveller who took him up the Nile, all agree in his great intelligence, scrupulous honesty and protection of his travellers from any imposition, and his gentlemanlyness and companionability. From my talk with him this evening over coffee, I can only say that his manners are those of a perfect nature’s gentleman, and one feels that the same delicacy and politeness is due to him that one would use to any gentleman.”

“I then came back home to supper, and had a chat as usual to Ali. We talk on astronomy, navigation, constitutional government, etc, in a fashion that would make anyone laugh” (23.12.1880).

Delta Sites 1883 - 1886

Images 5 - 9 are photographs taken by Petrie himself from his excavations in the Delta when he worked for the Egypt Exploration Fund and when he was freelance.

Image 5 - Muhd es Said, Muhd Jafur, Muhd Timras

On age:
“The best age for diggers is about 15 to 20 years. After that many turn stupid, and only a small proportion are worth having between 20 and 40. After 40 very few are of any use, though some robust men will continue to about 50. The Egyptian ages early; and men of 45 would be supposed to be 65 in England. The boys are of use for carrying from about 10 years old; and they generally look mere boys till over 20. The ornamental man with a good beard is quite useless and lazy; and the best workers are the scraggy under-sized youths, with wizened wiry faces, though sometimes a well-favoured lad with pleasing face will turn out very good (Fig.13). In choosing boys the broad face and square chin are necessary tokens of stamina; and the narrow feminine faces are seldom worth much”. (Methods and Aims, 1904: 20-21)

“In European countries this use of boys is scarcely possible owing to the national education. In Greece as in England the boys are required to go to school, and their holidays there are not at a time suitable for excavating, while in England the holidays are occupied by the harvest” (Methods and Aims, 1904: 32).

Image 6 - Ahmed Hafnawi and Muhd Hassan

On the girl who gave her name as Muhammad from Petrie's journal 22.2.1884:

“I begin to learn their names tolerably, particularly if they are distinctive; but what with Hassanen Ali, Ali Ibrahim, Ibrahim Muhammed, Muhammed Hassan, Ali Hassan, Ibrahim Ali, Ali Muhammed, etc, etc, etc it is rather puzzling; and such distinctions as Riani, Dafani, Shergawi, Adib, and Gandur are refreshing changes. They regard the weekly payment as a sort of sign of respectability and “nahar es sebt” – seventh day – is generally added on by the children to their names “Muhammed Hassan Dahabieh nahar es sebt andak” is run out all in a string (andak = “you have it” = it is booked so) and one says proudly to another “ana maktoub” – I am written.”
“Among the boys one girl came and gave name as Muhammed Hassan. So I asked Ali how it was a girl had such a name. “Oh they think you not take a girl for work, so that call her father’s name”; “Did they think I could not see it was a girl” I asked. “Oh time Mariette work here, so many girl, they dress in white, and send work for boys”. (mem. girls and women wear dark blue, and boys and men white & brown)”.

Image 7 - Nabira Market 1885

Image 8 - Muhammed abu Daud

“I must not conclude this without acknowledging what is a necessary part of my facilities for work, the characters of my overseers. By continual selection and weeding, I have now three or four men whom I respect and trust more, the better I know them. The three brothers – Mahajub, Said, and Muhammed –abu Daud el Gabri have proved unequalled for sturdy independence, unceasing goodwill and kindliness, obedience, and readiness for any service, asked or unasked; while Tulbeh, their little cousin, promises to be quite their equal. Though they never stand between me and my workers in any matter, yet it would be impossible to maintain such a good spirit and straightforwardness in the work with men inferior to my good friends.” (Petrie 1888: 3)

On Muhammad abu Daud (24.11.1884):

“He suggests that I could have two elder brothers of Muhammed; and as he did not wish to leave home at present, Abu Saud his son would go also. This is just the sowing time when the land has to be attended to, and so he wishes to stop and look after his crops now; but probably he will go later on with me when I go to the San district. Next day Ali came in to Cairo, and said that I could have Abu Saud, and Muhammed and his brothers; so I offered 4 piastres a day (10d) as before to Muhammed and the others, and double that to Abu Saud, considering that he can read and write Arabic. Of course I should not give the same as to Ali (21 piastres a day) as he has not any experience, and knows nothing of English or antikas. Two days later Muhammed came in to Cairo, saying that they were all coming on those terms. He seemed delighted to come again with me. My staff will now be Abu Saud, Muhammed abu Daud, Said abu Daud, and Abd es Salam Abdullah. None of them know more than a stray word or two of English so if any insurmountable difficulties should turn up I shall march all parties to Tel Barud station and get the station master to settle them, as he speaks very good English.”

Image 9 - Muhammed Delta PMAN 2719

On the age of Muhammad abu Daud (24.12.1886):

“I have been much surprised to find how old our men are. Muhd whom I have always looked on as a boy is 24, and Tulbeh who seems far from full grown is 17; I should rather have put them down as 12 and 8 by comparison with English. Said is 30 and perhaps looks it. On the whole it seems as if they aged very slowly till about 25 or 30 to 35 or 40 and then look old quickly. A short mid-life, with long youth and old age seems the rule. Muhd is married this summer, about three months ago.”

Al-Araba Al-Madfuna (Abydos) 1899-1900

The last 11 photographs on display in Framing the Archaeologist were taken of the excavation in Abydos (1899/1900) by Petrie's student and fellow teacher at UCL, Margaret Murray. They form part of her photograph album in the Petrie Museum's archives.

We have no information on the estate of Margaret Murray and would be very interested if any one has any information.

Image 10 - Hilda Petrie on horseback

Hilda Dec 23 1898, market trip:

“Ali himself went on to Dichna, so returning we had only the black groom, Hassan Sudani, with us, and one arab, Mohammed Shergawi, and the horse, but going to Waqf we were a merry party of 16.”

Image 11 - Hussein Osman by sugar cane

Hilda Petrie, 23.12.1898:

“A man of Kuft named Hussein Osman is our best and most trusty workman next to Ali.”

On the men of Qift (Koptos):

“The Kuftis proved to be the most troublesome people that I have ever worked with. The pertinacity with which the rascals of the place would dog our steps about our house, and at the work, was amazing. And the regularity with which a fresh spy was set on every morning, to try and watch our doings, was most irritating. Among this rather untoward people we found however, as in every place, a small percentage of excellent men; some half-dozen were of the very best type of native, faithful, friendly, and laborious, and from among these workmen we have drawn about forty to sixty of two following years at Negadeh and at Thebes. They have formed the backbone of my upper Egyptian staff, and I hope that I may keep these good friends so long as I work anywhere within reach of them. Beside these I had living with me at Koptos four of the Illahunis from the Fayum; and some of the former workers from Tell el Amarna came also, but did not prove satisfactory.” (Petrie 1896a: 1)

Image 12 - Hussein Osman excavating

“A gang of well-trained men need hardly any directions, especially in cemetery work; and their observations and knowledge should always be listened to, and will often determine matters. The freshman from England is their inferior in everything except in recording; and at least a season's experience is needed before any one can afford to disregard the judgment of a well-trained digger.” (Petrie, Methods and Aims, 1904: 22).

“The better class of these workers are one's personal friends, and are regarded much as old servants are in a good household. Their feelings and self-respect must be thought of, as among our own equals, and they will not put up with any rudeness or contempt. A man with landed property and cattle, and an ancestry of a couple of centuries, can afford to look down on most Englishmen who would bully him.” (Petrie, Methods and Aims, 1904: 22).

Image 13 - Ali's wife breadmaking (1899)

Hilda letter November 1900 (Drower 2004: 159-160):

“outside the gate is Ali’s square hut, with a yard of bus, and a mud mastaba, and a mud oven where his wife bakes our bread.
She is a rather pleasant little girl who wears a great deal of Arab jewellery, bakes very good bread, and sits sewing a teqieh (embroidered skull-cap) all day long. We have short talks often, but she talks very provincial Arabic, or perhaps it is women’s talk, so we don’t understand each oteher very well.”

Image 14 - Ali's wife Sara (1899)

Image 15 - Ali Excavating (1899)

On Ali Suefi (1.12.1896, Drower 2004: 95):

“A telegram from Quibell at Luxor said that Ali was coming down by the Sunday train to Beni Mazar; so my plan of going up on Monday morn will do well. It will be a great pleasure to have him about me again; for I feel as if all must go well with such a faithful, quiet, unselfish right-hand to help. As far as character goes he is really more to me than almost any of my own race. Few men, I believe, have worked harder for me or trusted me more. Perhaps none are sorrier at parting, or gladder when we meet again. A curious link in life but a very real one, as character is at the bottom of it. Kipling's “East and West” is the only expression of such a link that I know in black & white.”

Image 16 - Ali Fishing (1898)

Hilda writing home (17.2.1922, Drower 2004: 209):

“Aly Swefy is here, one of our best old hands. Being a fisherman, he has a little rough boat below here, and rushes off sometimes to catch a fish.”

Image 17 - Ali buying antiquities (1899)

Hilda letter, Dandara Feb 6 1898:

“Ali is a great bargainer and is very proud of his successes in marketing.”

Hilda letter, second year at Abydos, November 1900 (Drower 2004: 160:

“Ali is delightful as ever ... He is now in a full place in cemetery E where plenty of good XII-XVIII things are turning up, and is very useful in working with 4 gangs of men at once, and training new recruits from Quft.

Image 18 - Amy (Petrie's sister-in-law) buying antiquities

Image 19 - Flinders Petrie with Camera

Hilda Petrie Letter November 1900 (Drower 2004: 159):

“Half a day’s excavation brings in fragments enough to take three of us several days’ time to mark up, classify, draw, photograph, and otherwise work over. It takes much of each day to group and sort these fragments: the fitting is often a great puzzle.”

Hilda Petrie Letter 13 January 1901 (Drower 2004: 163:

“There is an immense amount of accumulations of stone-bowl-fragments to sort out, from tombs of Den, Zer, Perabsen, and Khasekhamui. Flinders works half his day at the final sorting (with a magnifier) of the stones of Den, preparatory to our hunting for fits in the fragments, and, the remainder of the day, he does 15 or 20 photographs, to different scales, and draws the said stone vases when the scanty portions of them are put together.”

Image 20 - M Darwish Araba 1899

On Muhammad Darwish (Hilda Petrie, 17.1.1899):

“Today the wall of the hut of Mohammed Derwish, one of our workmen, fell down: he only remarked to us, when he heard it – Rabbina kerim, izakan fil lel, ana tahtu “Our Lord is bountiful: had it been in the night, I should have been under it.” ”

One of the only instances of reported Arabic speech by workforce in Petrie archives.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Framing the Archaeologist: Petrie Portraits

Fullop Laszlo (1869 - 1937)
Professor Sir William Flinders Petrie c. 1934

Henry Wallis (1830 - 1916)
Excavating in Egypt: Professor Petrie at Thebes