Nathan Davis (traveller)
Nathan Davis (1812–1882) was a British traveller and amateur excavator, known for his work on the site of Carthage. He published Carthage and her remains (1861).
Early life and background
Suggestions that Davis was an American are not now accepted. He was British, born in London of Jewish background, and later became a Christian convert.
By his late 20s Davis was working for the London Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews (LSPCJ). The association with the Society eventually damaged his reputation, according to Moses Margoliouth. Davis chose to side with Margoliouth and Alexander M'Caul in his approach to missionary work, rather than with the alternative views of Charlotte Elizabeth Tonna and Stanislaus Hoga.
Davis spent a number of years in Northern Africa, at Tunis, as missionary to the Jews. From 1838 to 1843 he was there for the LSPCJ. He lived first at Douar el Chott (Dawwar ash Shatt) near Tunis. In his Voice from North Africa (1844), Davis attacked some British supposed philo-Semites, and that cost him his position with the LSPCJ.
In 1844 Davis travelled to Scotland, returning to Tunis as a missionary for the Church of Scotland. He held that position to 1848. He was struggling with the work, however, and having caused offence to the local Jewish community was transferred to missionary work in Gibraltar, in 1849. That mission was closed in 1850, and Davis was moved back to London.
Work for the British Museum
From 1856 to 1858 Davis was engaged on behalf of the British Museum in excavations at Carthage and Utica. When Jane Franklin stayed with the Davises in 1858, they were living in Gammarth. The visit overlapped a period during which Gustave Flaubert called socially.
With the backing of Anthony Panizzi, Davis had received British Foreign Office support for his dig, an unusual arrangement. Archaeological work had already been done at Carthage by the Danish consul Christian Tuxen Falbe, and the British consul Thomas Reade. Cases from Davis arrived at the museum in 1857; there were 51 cases received in 1858, and more in 1860.
The major antiquities discovered were Roman mosaic pavements, and Phœnician inscriptions. Augustus Wollaston Franks was writing on the finds by 1859. The inscription were worked on by William Sandys Wright Vaux with Emanuel Oscar Menahem Deutsch, a book Inscriptions in the Phoenician Character (1863) by Vaux offering translation into Latin with transcription into the Hebrew alphabet. This transliteration then became standard.
Shortly before his death Davis revisited Tunis. He died in Florence on 6 January 1882 of congestion of the lungs.
- Tunis, or Selections from a Journal during a Residence in that Regency, Malta, 1841.
- A Voice from North Africa, or a Narrative illustrative of the … Manners of the Inhabitants of that Part of the World, Edinburgh [1844?]; another ed., dated 1844, Edinburgh.
- Israel's true Emancipator, two letters to Nathan Marcus Adler, London, 1852. Under the pseudonym "E. H. C. M." (i.e. Editor of the Hebrew Christian Magazine).
- With Benjamin Davidson, Arabic Reading Lessons, London .
- Evenings in my Tent, or Wanderings in Balad, Ejjareed, illustrating the … Conditions of various Arab Tribes of the African Sahara, 2 vols., London, 1854.
- Carthage and her Remains, London, 1861.
- Ruined Cities within Numidian and Carthaginian Territories, London, 1862.
- Thompson Cooper (1872). Men of the Time: A Dictionary of Contemporaries. G. Routledge and sons. p. 287.
- Freed, p. 11
- Freed, p. 19
- Michael R. Darby (5 October 2010). The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Brill. pp. 145–6. ISBN 978-90-04-18455-8.
- Michael R. Darby (5 October 2010). The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Brill. p. 149. ISBN 978-90-04-18455-8.
- Freed, p. 30.
- Nathan Davis (1844). A Voice from North Africa; Or, A Narrative Illustrative of the Religious Ceremonies, Customs, and Manners of the Inhabitants of that Part of the World. Paton and Ritchie. pp. 194–5.
- Michael R. Darby (5 October 2010). The Emergence of the Hebrew Christian Movement in Nineteenth-Century Britain. Brill. p. 139. ISBN 978-90-04-18455-8.
- Stephen, Leslie, ed. (1888). . Dictionary of National Biography. 14. London: Smith, Elder & Co.
- Freed, p. 31 and p. 34.
- Freed, p. 37
- Michel Le Gall; Kenneth Perkins (5 July 2010). The Maghrib in Question: Essays in History and Historiography. University of Texas Press. p. 20. ISBN 978-0-292-78838-1.
- Archaeologia Or Miscellaneous Tracts Relating to Antiquity. Soc. 1860. p. 202.
- Caygill, M. L. "Vaux, William Sandys Wright". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/28166. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Brier, Peter. "Deutsch, Emanuel Oscar Menahem". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (online ed.). Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/7561. (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
- Samuel Halkett (1971). Dictionary of Anonymous and Pseudonymous English Literature. Ardent Media. p. 178. GGKEY:XNNP1DZ3NZG.
- Joann Freed (2011). Bringing Carthage Home: The Excavations of Nathan Davis, 1856-1859. Oxbow Books, for the Department of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies, University of British Columbia. ISBN 978-1-84217-992-5.