University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology & Anthropology
3260 South Street; Classroom 2
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Mr. Adams will discuss the life of Theodore Davis, a rich American robber baron and famous early 20th century discoverer of 18 tombs in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings. At the start of the 20th century Theodore Davis was the most famous name in archaeology in the world; his career turned tomb-robbing and treasure-hunting into a science.
Using six of Davis’s most important discoveries—from the female Pharaoh Hatshepsuts’ sarcophagus to the exquisite shawbti statuettes looted from the Egyptian Museum on January 29th, 2011—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. 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. Drawing on rare and never before published archival material, the first biography of Davis ever written rehabilitates a tarnished image through a thrilling tale of crime, adventure, and history.
$8 General Admission
Free for UPenn Museum members, UPenn faculty and staff, and ARCE members
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.