An eccentric American robber baron named Theodore M. Davis set the record, between 1902 and 1914, for discovering tombs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings – a total of eighteen. He was the most famous Egyptian explorer in the world in his day and made important and lasting contributions to archaeology, but the discovery of King Tut in 1922 (by Howard Carter, who had worked for Davis for three years) erased his memory from public awareness; today he is forgotten.
My biography of him, the first ever written, will be published by the St. Martin’s Press in the Spring of 2013. “THE MILLIONAIRE AND THE MUMMIES: How Theodore Davis Used a Stolen Fortune to Transform Archaeology in the Gilded Age” will explain his dramatic rise from rags to riches, resolve many of the controversies about Davis’s career and reveal him as a human being who redeemed a life of double-dealing by contributing a unique legacy to the world. His dealings with “Boss” Tweed, J.P. Morgan and Theodore Roosevelt, the mansion in Newport which he shared with his wife and his mistress, and the international celebrity his Egyptian excavations produced create a fascinating tale of ambition, fraud, luxurious living and ancient tombs.
“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 best-selling Amelia Peabody mystery series.