Sir Max Mallowan

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Max Edgar Mallowan

Birthplace: Wandsworth, London, England
Death: Died in England, United Kingdom
Place of Burial: Cholsey, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom
Immediate Family:

Husband of Barbara Mallowan and Agatha Christie

Occupation: Archaeologist
Managed by: Private User
Last Updated:

About Sir Max Mallowan

Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan was a prominent British archaeologist, specialising in ancient Middle Eastern history, and the second husband of Dame Agatha Christie.

Born as Edgar Mallowan in Wandsworth on 6 May 1904, he was educated at Lancing College (where he was a contemporary of Evelyn Waugh), and studied classics at New College, Oxford.

He first worked as an apprentice to Leonard Woolley at the archaeological site of Ur (1925–31), which was thought to be the capital of Mesopotamian civilization. (It was at the Ur site, in 1930, that he first met Agatha Christie.) In 1932, after a short time working at Nineveh with Reginald Campbell Thompson, Mallowan became a field director for a series of expeditions jointly run by the British Museum and the British School of Archaeology in Iraq. His excavations included the prehistoric village at Tell Arpachiyah, and the sites at Chagar Bazar and Tell Brak in the Upper Khabur area (Syria). He was also the first to excavate archaeological sites in the Balikh Valley, to the west of the Khabur basin.

Following the outbreak of the Second World War he served with the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve in North Africa, being based for part of 1943 at the ancient city of Sabratha. He was commissioned as a pilot officer on probation in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch on 11 February 1941, promoted flying officer on 18 August 1941, flight lieutenant on 1 April 1943. At some point he also held the rank of wing commander as when he finally resigned his commission on 10 February 1954 he was permitted to retain that rank in retirement.

After the war, in 1947, he was appointed Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at the University of London, a position which he held until elected a fellow of All Souls College, Oxford in 1962. In 1947 he also became director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (1947-1961), and directed the resumption of its work at Nimrud (previously excavated by A. H. Layard), which he published in Nimrud and its Remains (2 volumes, 1966).

Mallowan gave an account of his work in Twenty-five Years of Mesopotamian Discovery (1956), and his wife Agatha Christie described his work in Syria in Come, Tell Me How You Live (1946).

Agatha Christie died in 1976, and the following year Mallowan married his long-standing mistress, Barbara Hastings Parker. She was an archaeologist who had been his epigraphist at Nimrud, and Secretary of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq.

Mallowan was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the 1960 Queen's Birthday Honours, and knighted in 1968. He and Dame Agatha Christie were among the small number of married couples, each of whom held knightly honours in their own right.

He died aged 74 in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. His widow Barbara Mallowan died in Wallingford in 1993, aged 85

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Sir Max Mallowan's Timeline

May 6, 1904
Wandsworth, London, England
Age 25
Age 72
August 19, 1978
Age 74
England, United Kingdom
Cholsey, Oxfordshire, England, United Kingdom