Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/641

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been validated.


APPLETONS’

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY.

 

APRIL, 1900.



RECENT YEARS OF EGYPTIAN EXPLORATION.
By W. M. FLINDERS PETRIE,

PROFESSOR OF EGYPTOLOGY, UNIVERSITY COLLEGE, LONDON.

FAMILIAR as we are with the methods of science—exact observation and record, comparison, and the strict weeding out of hypotheses—yet such methods have only gradually been applied to various branches of learning.

Geometry became a science long ago, zoölogy much later, medicine only a generation or two ago, and the history of man is but just being developed into a science. What was done for other sciences by the pioneers of the past is now being done in the present day for archæology. We now have to devise methods, to form a notation for recording facts, and to begin to lay out our groundwork of knowledge. With very few exceptions, it may be said of Egypt that there is no publication of monuments before this century that is of the least use, no record or dating of objects before 1860, and no comparison or study of the history of classes of products before 1890. Thus, the work of recent years in Egyptology is really the history of the formation of a science.

The great stride that has been made in the last six years is the opening up of prehistoric Egypt, leading us back some two thousand years before the time of the pyramid builders. Till recently, nothing was known before the age of the finest art and the greatest buildings, and it was a familiar puzzle how such a grand civilization could have left no traces of its rise. This was only a case of blindness on the part of explorers. Upper Egypt teems with prehistoric remains, but, as most of what appears is dug up by plunderers for the market, until there, is a demand for a class of objects, very