Agatha Christie and Archaeology

I just finished a great book, Agatha Christie and Archaeology, edited by C. Trümpler (British Museum Press, 2001), which discusses the role of archaeology in the works of Christie, especially due to her marriage to the archaeologist Max Mallowan.

A favorite passage of mine, which speaks to the field of archaeology:

“The account of the investigation of the tells is one of the most delightful episodes in Agatha’s Syrian memoir, and shows her casting an amused eye on what she saw as the odd business of going round countless mounds to look for archaeological remains. According to the archaeological records, Max Mallowan studied sixty tells. It was necessary to walk round the mounds several times to find enough material, and on one occasion Agatha suddenly found herself swaying as she walked. At first she put this feeling down to a disturbed sense of balance, but it turned out that the outer sole of her left shoe and the inner sole of her right shoe were worn right down, as a result of walking round and round in the same direction all the time.

This intense concentration on the ground caused her to remark, pithily: ‘I begin to understand why archaeologists have a habit of walking with eyes downcast to the ground. Soon, I feel, I myself shall forget to look around me, or out to the horizon. I shall walk looking down at my feet as though there only any interest lies.'”

Mallowan, Christie, Leonard Wooley at Ur in 1931.

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