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Agatha Christie and archaeology

Openwork ivory panel with lion


Ivories are so common at Nimrud they might almost be said to be a hallmark of the site. They all had to be carefully conserved, and as Max recorded, here Agatha came into her own:

'For the preservation of the objects and their treatment in the field, Agatha's controlled imagination came to our aid. She instantly realized that objects which had lived under water for over 2000 years had to be nursed back into a new and relatively arid climate. The 'Lady at the Well' [one of the ivories, now in the Iraq Museum, Baghdad] was therefore kept under damp towels for several weeks and we reduced the humidity day by day until she was accustomed to a drier atmosphere.'
M. Mallowan, Mallowan's Memoirs (London, 1977), p. 245

About cleaning the ivories, Agatha Christie herself says:

'I had my part in cleaning many of them. I had my own favourite tools ... an orange stick, possibly a very fine knitting needle - one season a dentist's tool which he lent, or rather gave me, and a jar of cosmetic face cream, which I found more useful than anything else for gently coaxing the dirt out of the crevices without harming the friable ivory. In fact there was such a run on my face cream that there was nothing left for my poor old face after a couple of weeks!'
A. Christie, An Autobiography (London, 1977), pp. 456-57

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Cylinder seals, £90.00

Cylinder seals, £90.00