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A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Australia Explorer’s Grave Found in London

Monday, January 28, 2019

Flinders remains LondonLONDON, ENGLAND—The Guardian reports that the remains of early nineteenth-century explorer and surveyor Captain Matthew Flinders have been found among the estimated 40,000 burials to be exhumed and relocated ahead of the construction of a high-speed rail line connecting London and Birmingham. His coffin was labeled with an engraved lead plate, which allowed archaeologists to make the identification. Grandfather of noted Egyptologist William Matthew Flinders Petrie, Flinders is remembered as the first explorer to circumnavigate Australia. His ship, HMS Investigator, carried a crew of artists and researchers, including a botanist, a gardener, a geologist, and an astronomer. In 1803, while returning to England, Flinders stopped French-held Mauritius for repairs to Investigator, and was arrested and held for more than six years because England and France were at war. Flinders used the time to work on a manuscript describing his voyages that was published the day before his death in 1814. The location of Flinders’ grave in a London cemetery was lost by 1852, according to his sister-in-law, who had been unable to find it due to renovations to the burial ground. To read about recent studies of mummies originally found by William Matthew Flinders Petrie, go to “We Are Family.”

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