Max Mallowan

The sight of the Royal Cemetery when we were in full cry was amazing.
– M.E.L. Mallowan

Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan was born in London, England in 1904. He studied Classics at Oxford. His first archaeological work after college was as an assistant to Leonard Woolley at Ur. Mallowan joined the Ur expedition in the 3rd season, 1925-1926; he remained on staff for the next six seasons. It was at the excavation that he met his future wife, the famed mystery writer, Agatha Christie. The two were married in 1930. Woolley’s wife Katharine thought it inappropriate for Christie to come to the excavation once she and Mallowan were married. In order to spend time together, Mallowan left Ur, going on to excavate at many other sites for the British Museum. He became a professor at London University in 1942, and director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq in 1947. He was knighted in 1968, and died ten years later in 1978 at the age of 74.

Mallowan on Ur, “The sight of the Royal Cemetery when we were in full cry was amazing – and I recall that one of the royal tombs, which contained no less than 74 bodies buried alive at the bottom of the deep royal shaft, appeared, when exposed, to be a golden carpet ornamented with the beech leaf head-dresses of the ladies of the court, and overlaid by gold and silver harps and lyres which had played the funeral dirge to the end.” (Mallowan’s Memoirs, 49)