The Millionaire and the Mummies: Theodore Davis's Gilded Age in the Valley of the Kings

The Millionaire and the Mummies: Theodore Davis's Gilded Age in the Valley of the Kings

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By (author) John M Adams

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  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Format: Hardback | 363 pages
  • Dimensions: 144mm x 212mm x 34mm | 500g
  • Publication date: 25 June 2013
  • Publication City/Country: New York
  • ISBN 10: 1250026695
  • ISBN 13: 9781250026699
  • Illustrations note: black & white illustrations, maps
  • Sales rank: 893,530

Product description

Egypt, The Valley of the Kings, 1905: An American robber baron peers through the hole he has cut in an ancient tomb wall and discovers the richest trove of golden treasure ever seen in Egypt. At the start of the twentieth century, Theodore Davis was the most famous archaeologist in the world; his career turned tomb-robbing and treasure-hunting into a science. Using six of Davis's most important discoveries in archaeology-from the female Pharaoh Hatshepsut's sarcophagus to the exquisite s"habti" statuettes looted from the Egyptian Museum not too long ago-as a lens around which to focus his quintessentially American rags-to-riches tale, Adams chronicles the dizzying rise of a poor country preacher's son who, through corruption and fraud, amassed tremendous wealth in Gilded Age New York and then atoned for his ruthless career by inventing new standards for systematic excavation in the field of archaeology. Davis found a record eighteen tombs in the Valley and, breaking with custom, gave all the spoils of his discoveries to museums. A confederate of Boss Tweed, friend of Teddy Roosevelt, and rival of J. P. Morgan, the colorful "American Lord Carnarvon" shared his Newport mansion with his Rembrandts, his wife, "and" his mistress. The only reason Davis has been forgotten by history to a large extent is probably the fact that he stopped just short of King Tutankhamen's tomb, the discovery of which propelled Howard Carter (Davis's erstwhile employee) to worldwide fame just a few short years later. Drawing on rare and never-before-published archival material, "The Millionaire and the Mummies," the first biography of Theodore Davis ever written rehabilitates a tarnished image through a thrilling tale of crime and adventure, filled with larger-than-life characters, unimaginable treasures, and exotic settings.

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Author information

JOHN M. ADAMS is director emeritus of the Orange County Public Library. He has served on the Board and Executive Committee of the American Research Center in Egypt (the professional organization for U.S. Egyptologists) and founded the Southern California Chapter of ARCE and served as its president. He is a regular contributor to "Kmt: A Modern Journal of Ancient Egypt. " He edited the Egyptological newsletter "Sedjem "for five years. He lives in Winchester, Illinois.

Review quote

"It's high time we had a biography of Theodore Davis, the eccentric millionaire who cut a wide swath in Egyptology (and elsewhere) during the 1900's. Was he as big a crook as some of us suspected? John Adams has the answer!"- Dr. Barbara Mertz, author of ""Temples, Tombs and Hieroglyphs"" and, as Elizabeth Peters, of the "Amelia Peabody" mystery series."Theodore Davis, a flamboyant American millionaire, was responsible for some of the most provocative discoveries ever in Egyptian archaeology, and an accessible authoritative biography of this curious, remarkable man is long overdue. John Adams tells the story of Davis with substance and enthusiasm in his enjoyable book, which should greatly appeal to anyone with an interest in Ancient Egypt and the exploration of its remains."- Donald P. Ryan, archaeologist and excavator in Egypt's Valley of the Kings."A contemporary of the famed Heinrich Schliemann, the excavator of Troy and Mycenae, the discoveries of Davis in the Valley of the Kings were no less spectacular and scientifically important . . . The author of this welcome biography lays bare the hitherto obscure details of Theodore Davis's private life and earlier career in the legal profession and his acquisition of considerable wealth."- Geoffrey T. Martin, Edwards Professor of Egyptology Emeritus, University College, London"Theodore Davis has always been something of a 'Jekyll and Hyde' character for Egyptologists - lauded by some as a sponsor of some of the greatest discoveries, reviled by others as little better than a bungling tomb-raider. At long last, John Adams has untangled the truth from the fiction that has built up around Davis and allows him to be assessed a human being and genuine lover of ancient Egypt."- Dr. Aidan Dodson, University of Bristol and author of "Amarna Sunset: Nefertiti, Tutankhamun, Ay, Horemheb and the Egyptian Counter-Reformation""Evocative, erudite, irresistibly readable, THE MILLIONAIRE AND THE MUMMIES brilliantly brings to life o