Assyria in London

March 8 2011

The British Museum acquires part of the large collection of Assyrian ivories discovered in Nimrud by Max Mallowan between 1949 and 1963. They go on display next month.

Mallowan was Director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq from 1947 to 1961. In 2007 this was renamed British Institute for the Study of Iraq (Gertrude Bell Memorial). He was the second husband of Agatha Christie. She accompanied him on many of his digs.

She published They Came to Baghdad in 1951. It doesn’t have an archaeological setting, but Murder in Mesopotamia (pre-war, 1936) had been set against the background of the excavations at Ur, where Mallowan had been the assistant of Leonard Woolley.

The Nimrud ivories in Iraq were damaged when the museum in Baghdad was ransacked after the illegal invasion. Those which had been held back by the British Institute had been in storage in the UK and never exhibited (why not?). The Institute has donated a third of its collection to the Museum and sold it a further third. It will give the rest to Iraq.


3 Responses to “Assyria in London”

  1. davidderrick Says:

    The three recent lootings of eastern museums: Kabul, Baghdad, Cairo.

  2. davidderrick Says:

    Parker Pyne Investigates (1934) had a story called The Gate of Baghdad.

    Come Tell Me How You Live (1946) was about her archaeological life in Iraq and Syria; and see An Autobiography (1977, posthumous).

    Several other stories in Parker Pyne Investigates are set in the east. Among the novels, Death on the Nile (1937) is set in Egypt, Appointment with Death (1938) in Transjordan. Death Comes as the End (1945) is about Egypt during the Eleventh Dynasty and was written at the suggestion of Stephen Glanville. The main action of Murder on the Orient Express (1934) is in Yugoslavia.

  3. davidderrick Says:

    Checklist of the novels:

    Murder in Mesopotamia (1936), Iraq

    Death on the Nile (1937), Egypt

    Appointment with Death (1938), Transjordan

    Death Comes as the End (1945), ancient Egypt

    They Came to Baghdad (1951), Iraq

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