Agatha Christie and Archaeology

Dagger and sheath from Ur, copy of an original in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad

'Many years ago, when I was once saying sadly to Max it was a pity I couldn't have taken up archaeology when I was a girl, so as to be more knowledgeable on the subject, he said, 'Don't you realize that at this moment you know more about prehistoric pottery than any woman in England?'
A. Christie, An Autobiography (1981), p. 546

The exhibition Agatha Christie and Archaeology: Mystery in Mesopotamia (8 November 2001- 24 March 2002) presented a fascinating look at the secret life of one of the world's most popular writers.

Agatha Christie (1890-1976) originally became interested in archaeology on a visit to the site of Ur (in modern Iraq) in 1928. It was at Ur that she met her future husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, and became involved in excavation of the sites in Iraq and Syria that were to make his name.

Agatha was greatly devoted to her husband and his career, accompanying him on digs and fulfilling the role of junior assistant: cleaning and repairing objects, matching pottery fragments and cataloguing finds. She became very expert, and was much respected by Max's colleagues for her painstaking and skilled work. She also found time to write, and some of her best known books are based on her life in the Middle East: Murder on the Orient Express, Death on the Nile, Appointment with Death and most particularly, Murder in Mesopotamia.

This tour looks at some of the objects from each of the sites that Agatha worked on, and some of the photographs that she made there, a unique record that captures the mood of the digs.