07 Jun 2023

Martin Davies (1924-2023)

The EES, and many friends and colleagues around the world, mourn the death of Martin Davies who sadly passed away on Tuesday 6th June 2023.


Martin Davies, a Vice President of the Society since 2010, died on 6 June 2023 at the age of 98. He was a fine example of the kind of person who has always been a crucial part of the Society: someone who pursued a career in a completely different field, but was devoted to promoting the study of ancient Egypt. Born in 1924, he became interested in Egyptology at an early age, but was forced by the realities of life to become a solicitor in Bristol. However, he joined the Society in 1962, and served on its Committee for two decades down to 1986, also dealing with its affairs as honorary legal adviser and as a generous donor.

He played important roles in the foundation of the Sudan Archaeological Research Society and the Egypt Society of Bristol, serving as the latter’s President from its foundation in 1998 to his death. Also in Bristol, he was a generous contributor of funds to the University of Bristol’s Amelia Edward’s Memorial lecture series, and was an honorary MA of the University. He was also honoured by election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries in November 1985.

Martin travelled to Egypt on many occasions over four decades, continuing into his 80s, and was a fine photographer, his images adorning books by a number of Egyptologists. He was fortunate to visit Nubia, as far as the 2nd Cataract, twice during the 1960s, and was thus able to take invaluable colour views of places and monuments now lost. These include images of the Society’s work at Buhen under Bryan Emery. He also travelled widely outside the Nile valley, including in Iraq and Iran, and was also deeply involved in researching his family history, including an interesting connection with Lord Byron.


Martin (right) together with Aidan Dodson (past Chair of the EES, left) and Salima Ikram (Professor of Egyptology, American University in Cairo, middle). Image by Dyan Hilton

He was greatly supportive of any moves to bring Egyptology to the widest possible audience, and was himself a popular lecturer, not only to Egyptological groups, but also for NADFAS, with his presentations on Nubia bringing his first-hand experience to bear. His flat, with magnificent views over the city of Bristol, and his fine art collection, was a regular meeting-point for Egyptologists passing through the area, where his friendship, wit, charm, modesty and humour always made for a convivial time. Martin’s passing very much marks the end of an era, and he will be sorely missed.

Prof Aidan Dodson

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