13. The Adventurous Archaeologist
The adventurous life of British archaeologist Thomas Edward Lawrence (1888 – 1935), particularly during the years 1915 – 1919, is worthy of the Indiana Jones treatment. Indeed, it was the subject of a 1960s hit movie, Lawrence of Arabia. Lawrence was the fifth illegitimate son of Sir Thomas Chapman, a married baronet who left his family for his daughters, Lawrence’s mother. Assuming the mother’s surname, the couple lived together and raised a family as “Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence”, without marrying.
The family eventually settled in Oxford, were Thomas Edward, who preferred going by his initials T.E., attended college. Lawrence was a history buff from early on, with a particular fondness for medieval and military architecture. He also loved traveling, so he combined his two interests by spending much of his youth exploring old churches and castles. He traveled to France to study medieval fortifications, and to Syria and Palestine to study Crusader castles. He submitted a thesis on the subject that earned him a history degree with honors from Oxford University in 1910.