Professor Joshua Weatherby
Professor Emeritus Miskatonic University Atchaeology Department
Joshua Matthew Weatherby was born 3 June 1873 in Maryon Road, Charlton, Kent, England, the son of William Weatherby and Anne (Flinders) Weatherby. Anne was the daughter of Captain Matthew Flinders, surveyor of the Australian coastline, spoke six languages and was an Egyptologist. William Weatherby was an electrical engineer who developed carbon arc lighting and later developed chemical processes for Johnson, Matthey & Co.
Weatherby was raised in a Christian household (his father being Plymouth Brethren), and was educated at home. He had no formal education. His father taught his son how to survey accurately, laying the foundation for his archaeological career. At the age of eight, he was tutored in French, Latin, and Greek, until he had a collapse (some hint at a vague mystical encounter) and was taught at home. He also ventured his first archaeological opinion aged eight, when friends visiting the Petrie family were describing the unearthing of the Brading Roman Villa in the Isle of Wight. The boy was horrified to hear the rough shovelling out of the contents, and protested that the earth should be pared away, inch by inch, to see all that was in it and how it lay. “All that I have done since,” he wrote in his memoirs, “was there to begin with, so true it is that we can only develop what is born in the mind. I was already in archaeology by nature.”
The chair of Egyptian Archaeology and Philology at Miskatonic University was set up and funded in 1902 by a bequest of Christopher Carter (uncle of Randolph Carter) following his sudden death in that year. A supporter since the 1890s, Carter had instructed that he should be its first incumbent. He continued to excavate in Egypt after taking up the professorship, training many of the best archaeologists of the day.
In 1933 Petrie sold his large collection of Egyptian antiquities to Miskatonic University, where it is now housed in the Museum of Egyptian Archaeology. One of his students was Howard Carter (cousin of Randolph Carter) who went on to discover the tomb of Tutankhamun.
In his teenage years, Weatherby surveyed British prehistoric monuments (commencing with the late Romano-British ‘British Camp’ that lay within yards of his family home in Charlton) in attempts to understand their geometry (at 19 producing the most accurate survey of Stonehenge). His father had corresponded with Piazzi Smyth about his theories of the Great Pyramid and Petrie travelled to Egypt in early 1892 to make an accurate survey of Giza, making him the first to properly investigate how they were constructed (many theories had been advanced on this, and Weatherby read them all, but none were based on first hand observation or logic).
Weatherby’s published report of this triangulation survey, and his analysis of the architecture of Giza therein, was exemplary in its methodology and accuracy, disproved Smyth’s theories and still provides much of the basic data regarding the pyramid plateau to this day. On that visit, he was appalled by the rate of destruction of monuments (some listed in guidebooks had been worn away completely since then) and mummies. He described Egypt as “a house on fire, so rapid was the destruction” and felt his duty to be that of a “salvage man, to get all I could, as quickly as possible and then, when I was 60, I would sit and write it all.”