Very few archaeologists achieve fame or glory, but a few have made it into the public realm, either for their archaeology or other exploits. Here we look at the homes of eight famous archaeologists which you can visit around the world; four in the UK, one in the USA, one in France, one in Greece and one in Egypt. These homes are all open to the public.
GREENWAY, DEVON, UK
Although it is better known as the holiday home of Agatha Christie, Greenway was also the home of her husband, famous archaeologist Max Mallowan.
Born in 1904, he specialised in Middle Eastern archaeology, excavating at sites such as Ur, Nineveh and Nimrud. Appointed Professor of Western Asiatic Archaeology at the University of London in 1947, as well as Director of the British School of Archaeology in Iraq, he was later awarded an OBE and knighted for his contributions to archaeology.
Greenway is a beautiful house on the River Dart, with some amazing gardens and views. The house is owned by the National Trust and so is open to the public, and amongst all of the evidence of Agatha Christie and her literary career, there are rooms filled with artefacts they found on archaeological digs, as she would often accompany him.
HIGHCLERE CASTLE, HAMPSHIRE, UK
This magnificent castle in rural Hampshire, was once home to Lord Carnarvon, the financial backer behind the discovery of Tutankhamen's tomb in the Valley of the Kings in Egypt. Filled with glorious treasures, its discovery ushered in the Egyptmania of the 1920s, and for a while, archaeology became a glamorous profession. Present at the opening of the tomb in 1922, he died in Cairo a few months later, his death leading to much speculation about the 'Mummy's Curse'.
Back at his family seat in Highclere, various items from the tomb which he had taken home with him, were forgotten about until the 1980s. Found in a hidden cupboard, many of these Egyptian artefacts are now on display in the basement of the castle, along with highly accurate reproductions of many of the finest items found in the tomb, all made by Egyptian craftsmen. There is also a reproduction of how they first found the tomb, peering in through the gaps in the wall to see the dull glint of golden treasures. It is an excellent display and one worth seeing.
HOWARD CARTER'S HOUSE, LUXOR, EGYPT
Photograph © Egypt Tours Plus
Not far from the Valley of the Kings is the previous home of Howard Carter, probably one of the most famous archaeologists in the world. It was Carter who found the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 and he spent the next ten years of his life excavating the tomb and cataloguing the finds.
He lived in a mud brick domed house nearby, and the house has been restored, filled with pictures and some of his personal possessions including his tools and his camera, and opened to the public. A replica of Tutankhamun's burial chamber has been constructed in the garden, in exact detail, to try to reduce the amount of tourists who go to see the original, putting too much pressure on this sensitive site.
The house is not on the main tourist trail and you need to get there with a private tour guide or a taxi driver, as very few of the big tours go there.
VILLA KERYLOS, BEAULIEU-SUR-MER, FRANCE
On the beautiful coastline of southern France is the Villa Kerylos, home of French archaeologist, Theodore Reinach. Born in 1860, Reinach was a brilliant scholar with many interests as well as archaeology. He gave up his career in law to become Chair in Ancient Numismatics (the study of currency) at the Collège de France. In 1908, he built a villa in the south of France, designing it to look like a Greek villa of the 2nd century BC.
Based around an open peristyle courtyard and filled with mosaics, marble and authentic reproductions, it is an amazing house. Although constructed with all of the modern conveniences of the time, these are all hidden away to keep the look of the house as authentic as possible. Many furnishings are exact recreations of ancient Grecian household objects held in the National Archaeological Museum in Naples.
Reinach died in 1928 and the house was lived in by his family, until the German occupation of France when they were sent to Auschwitz and murdered. The house is now open to the public as a museum, and is one I recommend visiting as I loved it there.
MONTICELLO, VIRGINIA, USA
Photograph © Monticello
Thomas Jefferson is known world over for many things; a Founding Father, third President of the United States, philosopher, architect, diplomat amongst others, but he is considered to be also the father of American Archaeology as he was the first to conduct a scientific archaeological study. Previously, archaeology had been about randomly gathering artefacts; Jefferson used stratigraphy and systematic trenching as part of his approach. He excavated an Indian burial mound on his property in the Blue Ridge Mountains and published his findings.
His home is in his plantation in Virginia and he designed the house himself in the Italian neo-classical style of Palladio. It is now the only house in the USA which has been designated as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is open to the public for tours.
AVEBURY MANOR, WILTSHIRE, UK
Photograph © Jurgen Matern
This Grade I listed house was once home to Alexander Keiller, the archaeologist who worked on the prehistoric site of Avebury.
Built in the 16th century on the site of a Benedictine Priory, this grand manor house underwent many changes over the centuries. Keiller was a wealthy Scottish archaeologist who bought 950 acres of land in Avebury, where he carried out excavations, re-erected the prehistoric stones and set up a museum, as well as pioneering aerial photography for archaeological investigation. He also conducted excavations at Windmill Hill and West Kennet Long Barrow.
Avebury Manor is now owned by the National Trust and so is open to the public. In 2011 it was the subject of a TV documentary, The Manor Reborn, about its restoration as an immersive experience. Each room was decorated in the style of a different time period and unusually for National Trust properties, you are able to sit on the furniture and touch the objects around the house.
NUMISMATIC MUSEUM, ATHENS, GREECE
Photograph © C Messier
What is now the Numismatic Museum in Athens was once home to Heinrich Schliemann, the German archaeological pioneer. His work is mainly used today as an example of how archaeology should not be carried out, such as excavating important sites with dynamite causing catastrophic destruction, as well as smuggling artefacts out of the countries where he found them.
Schliemann was obsessed with finding the ancient city of Troy and trying to prove that the works of Homer were based on historical fact rather than fiction. In the course of his 'excavations' he uncovered many buried cities, gold and treasure. Ironically enough in his search for Troy, he blasted through the remains of the city and destroyed the archaeological record.
His home in Athens was built for him in 1880 and was once considered the grandest private house in Athens. Inspired by Pompeii and his love for all things classical, it was decorated with mosaics and murals. It now houses over 600,000 objects, mostly coins, dating from the 14th century, which is considered to be the greatest collection in the world. The museum is open to the public.
CLOUDS HILL, DORSET, UK
Home to T.E. Lawrence, otherwise known as Lawrence of Arabia, this tiny house in rural Dorset is very different to most other archaeologists houses. With no modern conveniences and only a few basics, this was where he retreated from the pressures of his fame. Although best known for his efforts to unite warring tribesmen in the Middle East during his time in the military, Lawrence was an archaeologist before his change in career.
In his youth he studied English churches, medieval French castles and crusader castles in Syria. After studying history at Oxford, he worked on excavations in the Middle East and Egypt. World War I put a halt to his archaeological career and instead he got involved in the Arab Revolt and the subsequent rammifications that came with it.
Clouds Hill is owned by the National Trust and open to visitors during the summer months. A tiny white cottage, it is still filled with his personal possessions and is as he left it on the day he was killed on his motorbike just a short distance away.