Distinguished Women of Past and Present

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Margaret Alice Murray

(1863-1963)

Margaret Murray, a British scholar and specialist in Egyptian hieroglyphics, became an archeologist in a roundabout way. Because it was difficult in her day for a woman to receive an advanced degree in archeology, she obtained a degree in linguistics instead. Linguistics led to study of Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptology. Sir Flinders Petrie of the University College of London allowed her to join him in his excavations at Abydos in Egypt in the late 1890's. Thanks to this work, she was able to join the staff of the University College, which later allowed her to lecture around the country. She was also an ardent feminist. In 1921 she published The Witch-Cult in Western Europe, in which she claimed that the persecution of witches in Europe was an attack of patriarchal establishment on ancient, woman-centered religions. In 1926 she became a fellow of Britain's Royal Anthropological Institute. In 1931 she published a book on Egyptian archeology, The Splendor That Was Egypt. From 1953-1955 she was president of Britain's Folklore Society. In 1963 at the age of 100, she published her autobiography, Centenary and The Genesis of Religion.

Contributed by Danuta Bois, 1996.

Bibliography:
1. Women's World: A Timeline of Women in History by Irene M. Franck and David M. Brownstone, HarperCollins Publishers, 1995
2. Women of Science: Righting the Record, edited by G. Kass-Simon and Patricia Farnes, Indiana University Press, 1993