By Julie Hankey
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Extra info for A Passion for Egypt: Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun and the 'Curse of the Pharaohs'
Another time, could he draw some money at Cook’s and Son and bring it over when he visits, so as to save one of the students a journey? In early 1904 when Petrie was being unaccountably blocked by Maspero over a concession to dig at Saqqara, Weigall suggested a line of attack which seemed promising: ‘I am greatly obliged by your news and impressions,’ writes Petrie, ‘… I must see Maspero, ask his assent to the excellent shape of application which you suggest …’28 In the event, Petrie never got his concession that year, but the letter is interesting in that it suggests that Weigall was learning the political ropes of the department.
This he did but, as he wrote in his memoir, I was depressed, for this failure had been like a blow in the face, and seemed to justify those who said that I ought not to have given up my excellent opening in the City. Moreover, I very soon began to realize that Oxford was not a place at which my knowledge of Oriental subjects would either help me, or be increased. … On all sides I was told that I ought not to have come up to Oxford, but that I ought to have gone to a German University, … yet I did not dare to propose the change, for fear of being regarded as incapable of sticking to one thing or of knowing my own mind.
9 He had been thrown in at the deep end. Petrie had completed his examination of the royal tombs themselves by 1901, but he had noticed another cemetery which proved to be of the Twelfth Dynasty (about 1991-1783 BC) about a mile to the south, and he set the new student to clear it. Thus, suddenly, Weigall found himself in charge of 50 men, with a spade in his hand – Petrie believed strongly that the archaeologist should roll up his sleeves alongside the labourers. The site lay at the base of limestone cliffs, an expanse of sand marked by four artificial mounds, ruins of some kind.
A Passion for Egypt: Arthur Weigall, Tutankhamun and the 'Curse of the Pharaohs' by Julie Hankey