London (Oct. 20)
Field-Marshal Lord Allenby, the conqueror of Palestine, Sir John Chancellor, the late High Commissioner for Palestine, and General Sir Arthur Wauchope, the new Palestine High Commissioner, were all present this evening at the annual general meeting of the British School of Archeology held at University College, at which Professor Sir William Flinders Petrie, the famous archeologist, was given a farewell prior to his departure for Palestine on Friday, to continue his excavations at Tel el Ajjul, the site of ancient Gaza.
As regards Palestine, I am very much a new boy, General Sir Arthur Wauchope said at the meeting, over which general Lord Allenby, who described Sir Flinders as the greatest archeologist in the world, presided.
I am an entire stranger to Palestine, he went on, I spent four years in Mesopotamia, and I was there occupied with such passing events as the World War, but my interest in archeology was quickened by what I saw of the excavatory work by the Germans at Babylin and by the English at Ur of the Chaldees. Sir Flinders’ work, he continued, is an inspiration to us all and during my time in Palestine I hope that I may be able to assist him in his work.
Sir John Chancellor said that he was sorry that he had not been able to accept Sir Flinders’ invitation to visit them last year, but he had passed through South Palestine not long ago in connection with the visitation of locusts. He was sorry that their work had suffered on account of malaria and that the work had had to be postponed, and he hoped that this year they would not have to undergo hardship again.
A CITY TWENTY TIMES LARGER THAN TROY
Sir William Flinders Petrie, who is 78 years of age, has been conducting excavations in Egypt and Palestine for over 50 years. He claims to have been engaged in archeology for 70 years, having started archeology at the age of eight.
The expedition which is leaving this week under his leadership for Palestine is the largest he has ever led. Our excavations in South Palestine, he states in his new book “Seventy Years in Archeology”, which will be published on November 2nd. by Messrs. Sampson Low, have now brought us to the actual site of Ajjul, home of the Hyksos, or Shepherd Kings, who ruled both Palestine and Egypt for several centuries. This city, 20 times larger than Troy, lay on the ancient international road between Palestine and Egypt. It was strongly fortified, and with its ramparts and defences, covered an area of 50 acres. It was abandoned probably owing to malaria about 2,000 B.C.
It was Sir Flinders who discovered in his excavations in Egypt the large triumphal inscription of the Pharoah Merenptah about the Israelites, in which the Pharoah boasted: Devastated is Libya. Hittites are quiet; Israel is laid waste without seed”.
In his new book Sir Flinders records that immediately he had discovered the Stele he said that same night at dinner to the rest of his party: “This Stele will be better known in the world than anything else I have found, and so it has proved,” he adds.
Another of Sir Flinders’ famous discoveries was the Sinai inscriptions, which Professor Hubert Grimme claims are the earliest writing in the world, suggesting that they were written by Moses.
In answer to an enquiry made by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 1924, when Professor Grimme’s claim to have deciphered his inscriptions was first put forward, Sir Flinders wrote that he did not agree with Professor Grimme’s conclusions.
In his new book, Sir Flinders again refers to this subject, briefly dismissing Professor Grimme’s claim by saying that the hieroglyphs which he (Sir Flinders) had discovered in Sinai were evidently a jumble of signs acquired by the local workmen, just as are found in Egypt and used for writing. The later discovery of highly developed Phoenician writing at Byblos of 1300 B.C., he continues, finally puts it out of court that the Sinai writing was a precursor of the Phoenician. It is merely a local barbarism, he declares, and all the wild theories of Grimme about it, he concludes, depend on his adoption of the natural cracks in the stone as being engraved signs.