British Museum buys Assyrian treasures cleaned by Agatha Christie

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The crime writer used face cream to restore the ivories discovered in the city of Nimrud by her archaeologist husband

Despite the best efforts of Agatha Christie and her pot of face cream, many of the ivory treasures just acquired by the British Museum from the Assyrian city of Nimrud are still scorched by the fire that brought one of the great palaces of the ancient world crashing down on top of them 2,600 years ago.

A fundraising appeal that brought in £750,000 in six months from 1,800 members of the museum friends, along with grants from the National Heritage Memorial Fund and the Art Fund, raised almost £1.2m to buy the ivories, discovered in the 1940s by the archaeologist Max Mallowan, Christie's second husband.

The ivories have been in storage since 1963, first at the Institute of Archaeology and for the past 25 years at the British Museum, and never seen by the public....

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