The film chronicles the story of Theresa Goell, a woman who ignored gthe dictates of her family, her time and her body (she was hard of hearing) opting for adventure and challenge in archaeology. In so doing, she achieved her lifelong dream at the age of 50: leading the excavation of Nemrud Dagh, the now-famous archaeological site in southeastern Turkey.
Born in 1901 in New York, Theresa left her husband and child and studied at the American School of Oriental Studies in Palestine in 1933 and got her first taste of fieldwork. She dreamed of excavating at Nemrud Dagh, the burial site of a fabulously wealthy king, Antiochus of Commagene. She finally had the chance to go to Turkey after World War II, when Getty Goldman hired her to work at the Tarsus excavations. The drama of her first trip to Nemrud Dagh in 1947 is recreated with 16mm Kodacolor film, that her borther, Kermit, shot in location.
She began excavations in 1953. The people who worked for her, were devoted to her. She brought clothing and medicine from New York and treated the medical problems of her workers and their families, and taught their wives hygiene and birth control. She was considered “queen of the mountain”.
The film is produced and directed by Martha Goell Lubell, Theresa’s niece. Theresa’s letters are read by Broadway actress Tovah Feldshuh and the film draws on the Goell family archive as well as the collections of the Semetic Museum and the Radcliffe Institute.