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1 Beaverton Anthropology- Ancient Egypt

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

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

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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 Daviss most important discoveries—from the female Pharaoh Hatshepsuts sarcophagus to the exquisite shabti 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 preachers 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 Tutankhamens tomb, the discovery of which propelled Howard Carter (Daviss 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.

Review:

"Egyptologist Adams offers a rounded biography of a grave robber cum archaeologist whose achievements have been buried by time. Theodore Davis's work, though overshadowed by later excavations, was revolutionary in its methodical thoroughness, and Adams is similarly scientific in his factual resurrection of Davis's life, presented here in two alternating timelines: Davis's moneymaking career as a lawyer and land prospector, and his later exploits in Egypt. The split chronology subtly reveals much about a man with 'relentless drive' who wasn't satisfied simply by wealth, and who brought incredible ambition to bear on his archaeological pursuits, effectively codifying in the process a 'defined discipline with a body of practices, a philosophy, and a tradition.' Throughout the book, there is a compelling tension between Davis's uniquely American style of self-made wealth and the divinely granted kingships of the ancient Egyptian rulers; in addition to being biography, Adams's work doubles as a comparative study of opulence and legacy-making. It's a fresh look at Egyptology, and the author skillfully dusts off a historic life, presenting his subject as a full-bodied human. Driven, unscrupulous, and extravagant; generous, intelligent, and charming — Davis embodies the grand life of a 19th-century pharaoh. 12 b&w photos & 1 map. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Synopsis:

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 Daviss most important discoveries—from the female Pharaoh Hatshepsuts sarcophagus to the exquisite shabti 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 preachers 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. 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 Tutankhamens tomb, the discovery of which propelled Howard Carter (Daviss erstwhile employee) to worldwide fame just a few short years later. Drawing on rare and never-before-published archival material, 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.

About the Author

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.

Product Details

ISBN:
9781250026699
Author:
Adams, John M
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Author:
Adams, John M.
Subject:
Ancient - Egypt
Subject:
Adventurers & Explorers
Subject:
World History-Ancient Near East
Subject:
Archaeology
Subject:
Biography - General
Publication Date:
20130631
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Language:
English
Illustrations:
Includes one map and 12 black-and-white
Pages:
384
Dimensions:
8.25 x 5.5 in 1 lb

Related Subjects

Biography » General
History and Social Science » Anthropology » Ancient Egypt
History and Social Science » Archaeology » Egypt
History and Social Science » Archaeology » General
History and Social Science » World History » Ancient Near East

The Millionaire and the Mummies: Theodore Davis's Gilded Age in the Valley of the Kings Used Hardcover
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Product details 384 pages St. Martin's Press - English 9781250026699 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Egyptologist Adams offers a rounded biography of a grave robber cum archaeologist whose achievements have been buried by time. Theodore Davis's work, though overshadowed by later excavations, was revolutionary in its methodical thoroughness, and Adams is similarly scientific in his factual resurrection of Davis's life, presented here in two alternating timelines: Davis's moneymaking career as a lawyer and land prospector, and his later exploits in Egypt. The split chronology subtly reveals much about a man with 'relentless drive' who wasn't satisfied simply by wealth, and who brought incredible ambition to bear on his archaeological pursuits, effectively codifying in the process a 'defined discipline with a body of practices, a philosophy, and a tradition.' Throughout the book, there is a compelling tension between Davis's uniquely American style of self-made wealth and the divinely granted kingships of the ancient Egyptian rulers; in addition to being biography, Adams's work doubles as a comparative study of opulence and legacy-making. It's a fresh look at Egyptology, and the author skillfully dusts off a historic life, presenting his subject as a full-bodied human. Driven, unscrupulous, and extravagant; generous, intelligent, and charming — Davis embodies the grand life of a 19th-century pharaoh. 12 b&w photos & 1 map. Agent: Jessica Papin, Dystel & Goderich Literary Management (July)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"Synopsis" by ,
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 Daviss most important discoveries—from the female Pharaoh Hatshepsuts sarcophagus to the exquisite shabti 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 preachers 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. 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 Tutankhamens tomb, the discovery of which propelled Howard Carter (Daviss erstwhile employee) to worldwide fame just a few short years later. Drawing on rare and never-before-published archival material, 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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