O.Wilde, Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

The artist is the creator of beautiful things. (...)
Those who find ugly meanings in beautiful things are corrupt without being charming. This is a fault.
Those who find beautiful meanings in beautiful things are the cultivated. For these there is hope.
They are the elect to whom beautiful things mean only Beauty.
There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written, or badly written. That is all. (...)

No artist is ever morbid. The artist can express everything. (...)
All art is at once surface and symbol. Those who go beneath the surface do so at their peril.
Those who read the symbol do so at their peril.
It is the spectator, and not life, that art really mirrors.
Diversity of opinion about a work of art shows that the work is new, complex, and vital.
When critics disagree the artist is in accord with himself...

O. Wilde (1854-1900),
Preface to 'The Picture of Dorian Gray'

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Max Mallowan, life

Max Edgar Lucien

1904 – 1978

British archaeologist
(Middle Eastern history)

'An archaeologist is the best husband
any woman can have:
the older she gets,
the more interested he is in her'
                                                        Agatha Christie, 1954,
                                                                     about her husband Max Mallowan

Sir Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan, was a British archaeologist, specialized in ancient Middle Eastern history, and the second husband of Dame Agatha Christie, the famous writer. He became well-known as an educator too.

After receiving a degree in classics at New College, Oxford University, Max Mallowan began his long career as a field archaeologist.  His excavations were carried out in the Near East, at first as assistant to Sir Leonard Woolley at Ur (1925 – 1931). And Ur was the archaeological site where he first met Agatha Christie. They fell in love and got married in 1930.

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.
He excavated for the British Museum at Tell Arpachiyah, a prehistoric village, and the sites at Chagar Bazar, and Tell Brak in the Upper Khabur area (Syria, 1932–8). He was also the first to excavate archaeological sites in the Balikh Valley, to the west of the Khabur basin.

During 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.

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. 1947 was a very important year for Max Mallowan as he also became director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq (1947-1961).

As professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at London University (1947–60), he excavated in the Near East, principally at Nimrud (previously excavated by A. H. Layard), with striking results described in detail in his two volumes Nimrud and its Remains, published later in the 60s. (During his excavation in Nimrud he made some important archaeological discoveries: he digged out the big Salamasar fortress and some palaces along with a lot of important objects). 

Agatha Christie's Come, Tell Me How You Live (1946) is an account of his digging in Syria (1934–8), and his own autobiography, Mallowan's Memoirs, appeared in 1977. An account of Mallowan’s work can be also found in his book Twenty-five Years of Mesopotamian Discovery (1956).

In 1976 Agatha Christie died and a year later 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.

Max Edgar Lucien Mallowan,  was knighted  for  his achievements in 1968. He and his wife Dame Agatha Christie were among the small number of married couples, each of whom held knightly honors in their own right.

Mallowen died in 1978, at 74, only two years after Agatha Christie’s death. His widow Barbara, Lady Mallowan died in 1993, at the age of 85.
Max & Agatha

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