Dame Agatha Mary Clarissa Christie, DBE (née Miller; 15 September 1890 – 12 January 1976) was an English crime novelist, short story writer, and playwright. She also wrote six romances under the name Mary Westmacott, but she is best known for the 66 detective novels and 14 short story collections she wrote under her own name, most of which revolve around the investigations of such characters as Hercule Poirot, Miss Jane Marple and Tommy and Tuppence. She also wrote the world's longest-running play, The Mousetrap.
Christie had a lifelong interest in archaeology. On a trip to the excavation site at Ur in 1930, she met her future husband, Sir Max Mallowan, a distinguished archaeologist, but her fame as an author far surpassed his fame in archaeology. Prior to meeting Mallowan, Christie had not had any extensive brushes with archaeology, but once the two married they made sure to only go to sites where they could work together.
While accompanying Mallowan on countless archaeological trips (spending up to 3–4 months at a time in Syria and Iraq at excavation sites at Ur, Ninevah, Tell Arpachiyah,Chagar Bazar, Tell Brak, and Nimrud), Christie not only wrote novels and short stories, but also contributed work to the archaeological sites, more specifically to the archaeological restoration and labelling of ancient exhibits which includes tasks such as cleaning and conserving delicate ivory pieces, reconstructing pottery, developing photos from early excavations which later led to taking photographs of the site and its findings, and taking field notes.
So as to not influence the funding of the archaeological excavations, Christie would always pay for her own board and lodging and her travel expenses, and supported excavations as an anonymous sponsor.
During their time in the Middle East, there was also a large amount of time spent travelling to and from Mallowan's sites. Their extensive travelling had a strong influence on her writing, which is often reflected as some type of transportation playing a part in her murderer's schemes. The large amount of travel was reused in novels such as The Murder on the Orient Express, as well as suggesting the idea of archaeology as an adventure itself.
After the Second World War, she chronicled her time in Syria with fondness in "Come Tell Me How You Live". Anecdotes, memories, funny episodes, are strung in a rough timeline, with more emphasis on eccentric characters, lovely scenery, than factual accuracy.
From 8 November 2001 to 24 March 2002, The British Museum had an exhibit named Agatha Christie and Archaeology: Mystery in Mesopotamia, which presented the secret life of Agatha Christie and the influences of archaeology in her life and works.