Alexander Henry Rhind (1833–63)
a Scottish antiquary in Egypt
papyrus, Thebes, Rhind, Egypt, antiquary, Caithness, archaeology, Scottish
Egypt; Scotland; UK
Alexander Henry Rhind (1833–63) was one of the earliest exponents of scientific techniques and methodology in archaeological excavations, but the last in-depth survey of his life and career in the field was published in the year after his death. He undertook fieldwork in Scotland before travelling to Egypt for health reasons. There, he applied for a permit to excavate and some of his subsequent acquisitions and finds are among the finest in the collections of the British Museum and National Museums Scotland. He advocated for proper recognition and protection of monuments, in Britain and abroad, and implemented publication standards and excavation and recording methods followed by others. He may be called the first educated archaeologist to work in Egypt and publish his finds, and he left bequests to ensure the continuation of his work and to assist the work of others, such as the establishment of the prestigious annual Rhind Lecture Series. Some of his Scottish fieldwork and publications are relatively well known to scholars in this area, but he is also known to Egyptologists for artefacts such as the Rhind Mathematical Papyrus and his seminal volume Thebes: Its Tombs and Their Tenants. This paper revisits his life, with emphasis on his work beyond Scotland and his impact on the study of ancient Egypt.