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Max says ecstatically: 'The Balikh - look at it!  Tells everywhere!'

The Tells are indeed imposing – large, formidable, and very solid-looking.       

‘Whacking great Tells,’ says Max.

From: Agatha Christie, Come, Tell Me How You Live – An Archaeological Memoir (1946)

In the late 1930s, Agatha Christie (indeed, the best-seller crime author…) and her husband, the archaeologist Max Mallowan, travelled through Northern Syria, on the road from Chagar Bazar to the town of Raqqa on the Euphrates. During their trip they visited the barren plain of the Balikh River and both of them were highly impressed by the archaeological richness of the region and its many ancient sites.

One of Max’s "whacking great Tells" was Tell Sabi Abyad, Arabic for “Mound of the White Boy”. Since 1986 archaeologists carry out large-scale excavations at this site. The results are spectacular: 9000-years-old prehistoric villages are exposed, as well as a Bronze Age fortress with hundreds of cuneiform texts. 

This is the official website of the archaeological project at Tell Sabi Abyad in Syria - a project of Leiden University in The Netherlands. Its aim is to provide information about the goals and results of the excavation and about the different aspects of the research being conducted at Tell Sabi Abyad.

So sad: the storehouses of Tell Sabi Abyad

in Raqqa in Syria have been


Boxes and bags with stored artefacts and other materials from Tell Sabi Abyad, thrown out of the storehouse in Raqqa

Read about the plundering and destruction: