David Gordon Lyon was born in Benton, Alabama, on May 24, 1852, the son of Dr. Isaac and Caroline Arnold Lyon. He received an AB degree from Howard College in 1875. He studied at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, but when Toy resigned, he went to study in Germany with Friedrich Delitzsch. He received a PhD from Leipzig in 1882.
His appointment as Hollis Professor of Divinity in 1882 was due largely as a result of Toy's sponsorship. (It took some urging appointing an Assyriologist to this position. On the other hand, the chair had been given by a Baptist so it was appropriate for a Baptist to hold it!) He was the first professor of Assyriology in the United States, his appointment coming a year before Paul Haupt came to Johns Hopkins. Upon Toy's retirement, he was appointed Hancock Professor of Hebrew and other Oriental Languages at the Divinity School. He conceived the idea of the Semitic Museum, convinced Jacob Schiff to fund it, was its first curator from 1891 until 1922, and oversaw the completion of the building in 1903. He also served as the Director of the American School for Oriental Study and Research in Palestine, 1906-07, and excavated at Samaria. His works included An Assyrian Manual (1886), Harvard Excavtions at Samaria, 1908-1910 (1924), and numerous articles in the history of religions and in Oriental studies. He died December 4, 1935.
Additional sources of information:
Barton, George A. "David Gordon Lyon: In Memoriam." Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research v. 62 (Apr. 1936), p. 2.
"Necrology." American Journal of Archaeology, v. 40, no. 1 (Jan.-Mar. 1936), p. 131.