I was going through some of my old old emails and found the following from Robert Dunnell I had asked him about the relationship between the development of seriation in North American by Kroeber et al. and the Sequence Dating scheme of Petrie:
I don’t think so — I don’t think the Americanists saw what they were
doing as particularly related to Petrie’s seriation. Kroeber had certainly
read it but remember we have a lucid, first person account of where frequency
seriation came from in his Zuni Potsherds I don’t recall him giving any
notice to Petrie. Spier, a Krober student, of course, just followed his
boss’ advice. Ford never read anything so far as one can tell and in his
early working formulations never mentions Petrie, though he did later on —
but only a mention as if to acknowledge a well-known predecessor rather than
build upon it.
Analytically we can see a connection between Americanist seriation and
Petrie’s sequence dating but I think Heizer’s little book of antecendent
reprints and some of the bookish scholars (Rouse, Rowe) made a connection
where there is none. Petrie’s work is not as novel as usually depicted
either because the antecedents are not in English but in Swedish, Danish, and
German. Montelius, in particular was working along these lines though using
his ideas about the development of design as the ordering principle rather
than deducing an order from the empirical associations (Petrie’s real
contribution). So… I’d say Petrie’s impact in American archaeology is
limited to textbook histories; his connections to his own predecessors in
Scandinavia underestimated by English speakers, and his real contributions
thus somewhat obscure. Does any of this help?
That potential relationship had always fascinated me, not because I necessarily thought that there must be one — and I had never really come across anything indicating that there was — but that the same basic scheme had been hit upon at around the same time without much in the way of really direct cross-communication. It reminds me of the development of the theory of natural selection that was hit upon at roughly the same time by both Darwin and Wallace, with only minimal direct communication, though they were both working within the same scientific milieu.
As he indicates, I’m not sure how much Petrie and the North Americanists even knew about the other’s work anyway beyond a post hoc acknowledgement. In the popular imagination, Egyptian archaeology or “Egyptology” generally is probably seen as the NFL of archaeology, to use an analogy: the big leagues, pyramids, spectacular tombs, hieroglyphics, etc., not to mention a connection to the Bible which was a much more important historical and cultural influence than it is today. (That also tends to cause some friction between the two camps, to be honest, even today)
I suppose one of these days I really ought to make a study of that, and I’m not getting any younger.
BTW, as a bit of a blogging update, I’m still in the field Monday and Tuesday this coming week so more limited posting. And yesterday was all booked up as well. Will try to remember to put something up Monday evening.