Palestine Exploration Fund

The father of Palestinian archaeology. Sir William Flinders Petrie (1853–1942) ushered in the era of modern scientific archaeology at Tell el-Hesi, 16 miles northeast of Gaza. There, the British archaeologist pioneered in Palestine the theory that archaeological deposits occur in strata and that pottery typologies could be used to date the strata. Although vastly refined, his stratigraphical ideas and pottery typologies remain basic. His racist theories, however, have tainted his legacy. Petrie interpreted changes in strata as evidence of successive periods of rule by increasingly abler races, and he attributed the downfall of ruling classes to their eventual degeneration due to inbreeding with their subjects.