Mary Chubb was an accidental archaeologist, becoming under-secretary at the Egypt Exploration Society to pay for a sculpture course. Typing and book-keeping were arcane arts in the excavations of 1920s: reports appeared to have been “typed on camel back in a sandstorm”; accounts never balanced.
Mary describes in her book “Nefertiti Lived Here” how one rainy morning in London, while searching for an artefact in the basement, she came across a beautiful turquoise fragment of tile, still with desert sands on it. In her words:
“Suddenly I was invaded by a great longing; I wanted to know all I could about the place where the tile had come from”
And so it was that Mary became the first professional excavation administrator.
Administration might not sound like the stuff of adventures, but this isn’t your bog-standard office job we are talking here. Mary Chubb worked on site, a key part of the excavation team. Egyptology expert Peter Lacovara has even said that Mary’s careful work at Amarna and Eshnunna helped to set new standards in archaeological publication.
On top of all of this, her charming books helped to explained the attraction and importance of archaeology to a wide readership.
You can read extracts from Nefertiti Lived Here using the Look Inside function on Amazon; it is still available to buy from many book retailers.
The Amarna website has a photo of the old excavation site hut that Mary and the team used, now in ruins.
Mary Chubb’s obituary in The Times [£]
Written by @RachelandDesign
Edited by Tori & Becky
Mary Chubb in the field; image provisionally sourced to The Egypt Exploration Society, and used with kind permission.