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He continued to excavate in Egypt after taking up the professorship, training many of the best archaeologists of the day.
In 1913 Petrie sold his large collection of Egyptian antiquities to University College, London, where it is now housed in the Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology.
By the end of the Tanis dig, he ran out of funding but, reluctant to leave the country in case it was renewed, he spent 1887 cruising the Nile taking photographs as a less subjective record than sketches.
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.
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).
He also ventured his first archaeological opinion aged eight, when friends visiting the Petrie family were describing the unearthing of the Brading Roman Villa in the Isle of Wight.Impressed by his scientific approach, they offered him work as the successor to Édouard Naville.Petrie accepted the position and was given the sum of £250 per month to cover the excavation's expenses.However, when he later found that Gaston Maspero placed little value on them and left them open to the elements in a yard behind the museum to deteriorate, he angrily demanded that they all be returned, forcing Maspero to pick the 12 best examples for the museum to keep and return 48 to Petrie, who sent them to London for a special showing at the British Museum.Resuming work, he discovered the village of the Pharaonic tomb-workers.