The 1920s and 1930s were archaeology’s heyday. In 1922, Howard Carter’s discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in Egypt’s Valley of the Kings gripped the public. The media of the day regularly reported on progress and finds at different excavation sites. Often colorfully described, these reports provided vivid pictures of life on excavations and fantastic glimpses of the culture, history, and lives of ancient peoples.
The news stories about Ur were no different. Woolley’s eagerness to engage the general public and his unique ability to simplify and tell lively stories about his discoveries made him a popular figure. Woolley regularly contributed reports to the newspapers and The Illustrated London Newsabout the progress of his work at Ur. He never missed an opportunity to link what he found to Abraham and the Bible or to compare it to Egypt and Tutankhamen. The intense media coverage of Ur inspired readers, including European royalty such as Belgium’s King Albert, to see the excavations firsthand. The most intriguing guest was author Agatha Christie, who first visited in 1928. She became enthralled with life at the site, as well as good friends with Woolley’s wife, Katharine. She returned the following season and eventually married Woolley’s young archaeological field assistant, Max Mallowan.