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Agatha Christie and archaeology
Ivory head of a lion
In their first season at Nimrud, the small team of four people lived in a mud-brick house belonging to the local sheikh. After that a dig-house was built. It still stands, now used by the Iraq Department of Antiquities. It originally had four rooms, one of which was a small darkroom. When in due course, the dig-house was extended, Mallowan tells us that a room was added for Agatha 'where for a part of the morning she sat and wrote her novels quickly and straight on to the typewriter. More than half a dozen of them were written in this way, season after season.' M. Mallowan, Mallowan's Memoirs (London, 1977), p. 290
This ivory lion's head probably comes from a piece of furniture. The back is flat with a mortice for attachment, possibly to the front of a throne or corner of a table. It was found at Fort Shalmaneser, which was mainly excavated in the years 1958-63, when Max and Agatha had left and the field directorship had been handed over to David Oates, but the decision to excavate had already been taken in 1957.