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Petrie's supporter since 1880, Edwards had instructed that he should be its first incumbent.He continued to excavate in Egypt after taking up the professorship, training many of the best archaeologists of the day.He held the first chair of Egyptology in the United Kingdom, and excavated many of the most important archaeological sites in Egypt in conjunction with his wife, Hilda Petrie.Petrie was born on 3 June 1853 in Maryon Road, Charlton, Kent, England, the son of William Petrie (1821–1908) and Anne (née Flinders) (1812–1892).Petrie was raised in a Christian household (his father being a member of the Plymouth Brethren), and was educated at home. His father taught his son how to survey accurately, laying the foundation for his archaeological career.At the age of eight, he was tutored in French, Latin, and Greek, until he had a collapse and was taught at home.

I was already in archaeology by nature." The chair of Edwards Professor of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at University College London was set up and funded in 1892 by a bequest of Amelia Edwards following her sudden death in that year.Petrie accepted the position and was given the sum of £250 per month to cover the excavation's expenses.In November 1884, Petrie arrived in Egypt to begin his excavations.This site is located 8 miles southeast of Tanis and, among the remains of an ancient temple there, Petrie found a royal sphinx, now located at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.By the end of the Tanis dig, he ran out of funding but, reluctant to leave the country in case this was renewed, he spent the year 1887 cruising the Nile taking photographs as a less subjective record than sketches.

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During this time, he also climbed rope ladders at Sehel Island near Aswan to draw and photograph thousands of early Egyptian inscriptions on a cliff face, recording embassies to Nubia, famines and wars.