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Davis, Theodore M.

Explorer
1837-1915

American financier who funded Howard Carter in KV before hiring E. Ayrton, who found KV 47, 55, 57, and others. Davis was born in New York in 1837. At the beginning of his career, he worked as a lawyer and financier in New York and Rhode Island. In 1889, Davis began taking annual vacations in Egypt. Wanting to do something productive during these vacations, he decided in 1903 to offer to fund exploration and excavation in the Valley of the Kings in exchange for permission to oversee the work. From 1903 through 1912, Davis funded and directed many excavations and contributed significantly to knowledge about the Valley of the Kings. Davis's decision to work in the Valley of the Kings was influenced by its Chief Inspector, Howard Carter. Carter seized the opportunity to inspire Davis with his plans to find the tomb of Thutmes IV. Davis found the possibility of a major discovery appealing and built a field house close to the entrance of the royal wadi. But Carter did not get along well with Davis and left James Quibell in charge of the Valley. In 1905, Quibell made the important discovery of the tomb of Yuya and Thuya, but he, too, argued with Davis. Arthur Weigall was sent to take Quibell's place, but he realized quickly that he did not want to spend his time in excavation and allowed Davis to hire Edward Russell Ayrton in 1906. It was during Ayrton's time in the Valley that the bulk of Davis's discoveries were made. Among the tombs he located were KV 47 (Siptah), KV 57 (Horemheb), KV 55, and many unfinished tombs and tomb entrances. Ayrton also became frustrated with Davis and he was briefly replaced by Harold Jones. Harry Burton took over after Jones's death. Burton was the last Chief Inspector with whom Davis worked. The many artifacts Davis discovered in the Valley and surrounding areas are today housed at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the British Museum in London, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Davis published six volumes on his discoveries in the Valley of the Kings, but much information remains unpublished and is in the British Museum. Davis died in Florida in 1915.