The "Journals" of Flinders Petrie
November 30, 1880 to June 22, 1881
328 pages

Scans and transcripts of diaries
kept by Petrie during his travels and excavations in Egypt,
now in the Archive of the Griffith Institute

This file has not yet been completed and transcripts are still being added

Concept, direction and editing: Jaromir Malek
Transcript: Cat Warsi
Scanning and picture editing: Jenni Navratil
Coordination: Elizabeth Fleming

We are grateful to the Petrie Museum, University College London, and to Dr. Stephen Quirke
for allowing us to consult the typewritten transcripts of parts of the "Journals" held in the Petrie Museum

Page 1 (November 30 to December 1, 1880)

Monday 30th Novr 1880. Left Bromley by 8.7, & Euston by 10.10, began raining on the way, & settled in a wet evening on reaching Liverpool about 3½. Drove to Moss's office & settled with them, & then down a long way to Wellington Dock; saw my things on board, & enquired if the 19 boxes had been received, all right at the office I was told. Then took bus's to Sefton Park, & got there about 5¾; had a talk over prospects with Susan Harvey & saw Mr & Mrs Psicha & Catina; had dinner at 7.0, & caught a bus at 8¼, reaching the vessel about 9½. Did not sleep much with the clatter of two steam winches on deck, loading all night long.

Tuesday 31st Up early, & met Mr Highet who is to share my cabin. We left the dock at about 9; & steamed down the Mersey. We had four pilots on board extra, going down to their pilot vessel which lies off Holyhead in all weathers ready for vessels. It began to blow soon, & when they went off about 12 those who fetched them said it was blowing hard down the channel, a strong S. wind. It blew worse & worse all day, the waves dashing all over the forecastle which was often hidden entirely by the spray, the vessel pitching heavily. Of course I was queer, but did not go over to the lee side till 8 in the even. I did not attempt to go below to sleep, though I had had breakfast & lunch below; & as the spray drenched even the top deck over the cabins; I settled in to sleep on the top of the grating of the engine room, under the lee of the spray shields; the air coming up was about 75 or 80, & kept me well warm, with my black bag for a pillow, & my old canvas bag put on as a cap, the flap round my neck, & the front down to my mouth. It was a very dirty berth but I slept as well as the racket of the engines just beneath would allow.

Wednesday 1st Decr. Up early ran below to wash face & hands, then up again, & as it began to rain, hitched myself between two chains behind the funnel & stuck there all the morning. The passengers are Lord Elphinstone and Lady E. with 3 sons & 2 daus

Page 2 (December 1 contd. to December 3, 1880)

a governess, manservant & two maids, all for Malta. A Capt Hartwell R.N. an old friend of Lord E, & Mrs. H. A dolorous Scotch lad for Malta. A barrack sergeant for Cyprus; an Arabic gentleman for Gibraltar; Mr. Highet a young Scotchman for Alexandria, with whom I join. There will only be the barrack sergeant & our two selves after Malta, unless other passengers join. Today was rather worse than yesterday, the sea shifting the anchors on the forecastle but I found that by not attempting to keep anything in the stomach, & keeping quiet amidships, I was tolerable; but even a mouthful of water made me sick immediately. About 3½ it cleared up, with less wind, & that W. & we saw sunset. I made a rush below, & got settled in safely, & had a tolerable night.

Thursday 2nd Decr Up at 7½, managed to drink a little, after 42 hours without a drop, & improved during the day so as to go down to the 3rd course & dessert in even. There is plenty of feeding, 3rd course being plum pudding, fritters, dumplings, blancmange & jam; & oranges, grapes, apples nuts etc for dessert; so I can get on without the intolerably greasy dishes of savouries. Lat. at noon 4756', run 249 miles; off Ushant. Got the bathroom cleared of Lord E's baggage, by poking the steward two or three times every day, & had a good wash. Passed porpoises.

Friday 3rd Dec Had light meals below; & felt tolerable. I got up on deck just as the sun was rising over the Bay of Biscay, water quite smooth & motion very steady; a purple horizon all round shading through green to blue; the sun coming up crimson with a few small clouds around it. By noon we had run 258 miles, Lat abt 4352', I did not see the Capts reckoning, but we agreed yesterday within 3' by my own obsns. Sighted the Portuguese coast about noon, & saw it plainly all the afternoon, from Corunna southward. A magnificent day, not a single cloud, & only a very slight

Page 3 (December 3 contd. to December 5, 1880)

swell; in fact I was rather baked in the aftn, as I sat on the rail in front of the steering cabin, my favorite place, the Captain, Highet, & old Capt Hartwell all coming round there for a long gossip. The evening was beautiful, after sunset the thin crescent line of the new moon going down, turning fiery red & bent by refraction from < > to < > & < >, & at last cut off by the horizon; Venus giving a long sheen beside it on the water. Even the sword of Orion shewed a glitter on the water.

Saturday 4th Dec Up before sunrise, another glorious day. The coast clear before sunrise, but hazy afterwards. At noon we were just between Burling Island & Cape Carvoliro; & soon after sighted Mafra Palace & Cintra which we were examining all the afternoon till about 3½ when we were off Cape de Roca, within 3 or 4 miles of the shore. Dolphins were racing alongside most of the day, & a shark was sighted. It is exquisitely clear, & only a slight swell, not at all unpleasant. Soon after, about 4½, we had passed the ridge of Cintra, & saw up the Tagus to Lisbon; seeing the palace & part of the city.

Sunday 5th Dec. We passed Cape St Vincent about 1½ am, & no land was visible in the morning. As our Capt is a R.C. the passengers were left to their private devotions, which did not seem to extend beyond Lady E, children & governess. Early in the afternoon we saw the hills behind Cadiz, & soon after Trafalgar. The wind which has been very slight & S. ahead hitherto; has today risen somewhat & gone E.S.E., so as to be still just ahead. Fortunately the waves are very short, so that the vessel does not

Page 4 (December 5, 1880 contd.)

pitch at all, & being wind ahead there is no roll. A few small clouds came up, but the sun was brilliant all day. At sunset, about 5.0, we were off the white cliffs of Trafalgar, & by 7½ passed between the red lights facing each other on the nearest points of Spain & Morocco. Soon after we sighted Gibraltar, & by 9½ anchored in the bay about ¾ mile off shore. I expect to go ashore tomorrow morning & post this. The streets running up the hill, make the town shew a quantity of lights; I counted 170 at a mile off.

Page 5 (December 6, 1880)

Monday Dec 6 Up by 7.0, & watching the men who came off to unload; many of them were unmistakably Spaniards, but most were Maltese I was told. The free and easy style in which they would sit nose & knees perched on a boat smoking a cigarette was amusing, only stopping smoking for the continual operations of spitting & scolding, or at least vociferating. After breakfast at 8½ I went off ashore; the Elphinstone party & Hartwells in one boat; the Scotch lad & myself & the E. maids & man in the other; Highet was not well, & so stuck on board at the last minute. I bolted through the town on landing, looking at all I could, & after enquiries went to the Town Mayor's office at 10. for a permit ascend the rock, & see the galleries. I then set off alone, & went up the zig zag roads over the southern end of the town, which are not much used apparently, & reached the top at the signal station, the middle peak, in an hour, 1450ft above the sea. The view is splendid from thence; the rock itself is a bit of an upheaval of limestone, thus < >, the town being along the W side which slopes at about 45, & reaching perhaps 2 or 300ft up; the E. side is vertical, with the exception of ledges, & two slopes of debris. As an E. wind was blowing, it beat up the precipitous face of the rock, & condensed a cloud overhanging the town; it was curious to see it forming, when standing at the top, looking along the ridge; the vapour condensed a hundred feet or so from the top, blew vertically up, & formed a thick cloud when it reached the top. On leaving port the form of the cloud

Page 6 (December 6, 1880 contd.)

<> sea worn coves
slopes of debris
was most remarkably curved as above, looking at the back or E. side. After looking well at both sides,- & the top is a sharp edge, where you can see down both ways at once,- I went down by the road over the N. end of the town; had a talk to a soldier going down, who led me to the guard, where I got one to go through part of the galleries with me; as much as I had time to see. They are very spacious, 10-15ft wide by 15-20 high in many parts, beside the room for working each greve. I then went down through the town; got a couple of pomegranates for 1d, & a pound of figs for 2d, & went off back to the Nepthis at 12½. The Elphinstone party came about half an hour later, & brought a huge lot of fruit for their own consumption. Soon after the papers were brought off, & we went to lunch & steamed out.
There are very few English to be seen in the streets, & the dress is entirely Spanish among all others; ladies wearing either a mantilla or nothing on the head & the lower classes a handkerchief; the sashes of the men are furiously brilliant in most cases, & a few

Page 7 (December 6, 1880 contd.)

Barbary Jews & Moors in their heavy felt cloaks set off the scene.
The rock is covered scantily with wild thyme, sage, & a bulb with white star flowers, principally; no bushes or shrubs growing high up: these grow up between the general mass of limestone fragments which lie loose on the surface ready to roll down with a push.
The mountains Northwards on the main land are very fine, the clouds hanging halfway up them; & as I now write on the deck the ravines in them shewing in blue-grey shadow on the pink-grey sunlit sides.
Our old Arabic trader, who is a native of Fez, here left us; he deals in shirtings, & had been to Manchester to make his purchases. As his English was limited to half a dozen words, we had to resort to Arabic; so that beyond a few stray remarks on route, weather, etc, our mutual goodwill was expressed by nods, smiles & indications. Highet was his great resource, as he speaks Arabic fluently; & on the bad days at first, Muhammed was quite done for, & got H. to kill him a fowl with all the orthodox rites, which much comforted his mind & stomach.
Instead of him however we have shipped half a dozen Barbary Jews & some Maltese, who are all tucked away under cover of a sail over the hatch, aft. The former are clad in scarlet & brown striped carpets, or something of the sort, & all came out & kissed the hem of the Capt, 2nd officer & Capt Hartwell's coats when they went to look

Page 8 (December 6 contd. to December 7, 1880)

at them (Capt. H. did not feel inclined to return the compliment, he said,) in gratitude for having quarters allotted to them with the Maltese under the sail. We also shipped another passenger who was urgent to go to Algiers, & consented to share the captain's cabin on deck, as all the berths were full.

Tuesday Dec 7 Up about 8, but a strong head wind continued, rather ENE than otherwise, which was very chilly & unpleasant all day; a little rain in the morning cleared off, & the sun shone, but I had to get some shelter, it was so cold. We sighted the Algerian coast in the afternoon, & expect to anchor at Algiers early tomorrow.

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Other Petrie Journals

1881 to 1882

1883 to 1884

(November 15, 2011)

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