Friday, 24 July 2015

Trowelblazers - Lina Eckenstein

I'd heard of Flinders Petrie, of course - you can't really avoid knowing his name if you have any interest in Egyptian archaeology. What I hadn't realised, though, is that he couldn't have achieved what he did without his wife Hilda and their friend Lina Eckenstein. Hilda Petrie took charge of the workers on the digs, and led expeditions, and Lina recorded the finds and made sure they were packed safely when they were sent back to wherever they were supposed to go. She also worked with Margaret Murray on these expeditions.
She wrote A History of Sinai in 1921, about the dig at Serabit el-Khadim, and theorised that it was the site of the Biblical Mount Sinai, in part because of the temple of Hathor they found there, which might be the origin of the story of the Golden Calf. The earliest recorded Semitic inscriptions were found here. It was also the site of mining activity - Hathor the cow goddess is associated with mining (though it seems to be a fairly strange association!).
This was one of several books she wrote on Egypt, including one which compared an Egyptian painted scene with the nursery rhyme Who Killed Cock Robin. She also wrote important scholarly works about medieval monastic women, including Hildegard of Bingen, whose life and writings were little known at the time.

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