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Agatha Christie's Role in Uncovering Biblical City

Agatha Christie and her husband, Max Mallowan (Photo: wikicommons)

Agatha Christie is perhaps the world's most famous mystery writer, the creator of such books as And Then There Were None and Murder on the Orient Express, as well as beloved fictional detectives, Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot. But, as this week's Advocate and Ally, she also had a hand in preserving biblical history. The Times of Israel's Lori Hinnant writes about Christie's role in uncovering the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrod, known in the Bible as Calah, which was recently destroyed by ISIS:

Her diligence and face cream cleaned Nimrud’s most famous ivory. She captured the archaeological dig on celluloid and Kodak film, developing the prints in water painstakingly filtered from the nearby Tigris River.

And every day, after she balanced the books and arranged for the next day’s meals, Agatha Christie sat down to write.

The British mystery writer’s second husband, Max Mallowan, was an archaeologist — respected in his field, but with nowhere near the renown of his older wife. But Christie set aside her career for months each year to accompany Mallowan into the field.

Mallowan built his career on digs in the 1950s in Nimrud, the remains of the ancient Assyrian city that survived 3,000 years only to be blown into rubble by Islamic State group conquerors last year. And Christie, then in her 60s, was there to document his work, in photo and film.

Every winter, according to her grandson Mathew Prichard, “they disappeared into Iraq or Syria and returned in May or June. To her it was just as important as writing. Her role, and she was quite old-fashioned about this … Her role in the 1950s was to go on these digs with her husband and help him with the photography and dealings with the local labor force,” he said.

Famed for her detective characters Mrs. Marple and Hercule Poirot, Christie had a longtime fascination with archaeology that showed up in novels set in the Mideast, including “Death on the Nile” and “Murder in Mesopotamia”...

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