Our first afternoon was spent at the British Museum.
We planned to spend several hours at the Museum and decided to try and see everything. We loosely followed the “Don’t Miss” route — seeing as much as possible along the way.
We were allowed to take pictures in most of the rooms (huzzah!!) and I took A LOT of them. Here we go!
Don’t Miss #1: The Lewis Chessmen
Don’t Miss #2: Oxus Treasure
I was not intrigued with this one.
I was instead more impressed by this:
Don’t Miss #3: The Royal Game of Ur
Also, not interested. After seeing the Senet games in the Egyptian Museum, this was…meh.
Speaking of Egypt however:
They obviously had a pretty ridiculously awesome Egypt section. Including, of course, the Rosetta Stone. (Which was also Don’t Miss #9.) I would’ve liked to spend more time with this — but it was easily the busiest artifact in the Museum. People were elbowing all over the place trying to get a good view/good picture. Too bad.
“Oh, is this named after that language learning program you see in airports all the time?” –Tank
Don’t Miss #4: The Portland Vase
Now, I didn’t think this would be too cool. A vase? Really? Well, naysayers, it was rather arresting. It was smashed sometime in the mid-1800s and painstakingly restored. The two color style, done in this way, is rare, and gorgeously rendered. I’m now a fan.
Don’t Miss #5: Samurai Armour
Did you know that Samurai Armor was also given to James I as a diplomatic gift from Tokugawa Hidetada? (True story: we saw it on display at the Tower of London.)
Don’t Miss #6: Cloisonne Jar with Dragons
We couldn’t find this one! Thanks to the wonders of the internet, I now know it looks like this.
However, I really enjoyed the rest of the China and Southeast Asia floor — racking my brain for details learned in Prof. Kucera’s Southeast Asian Art History class at Olaf.
Don’t Miss #7: Ife Head
The African section was very poorly marked. I’m pretty sure we saw this, because we scoured those rooms, but sadly no pictures. (This is it.)
Here are a couple of other things we saw instead:
Throne of Weapons – “The throne was made by the Mozambican artist Cristovao Canhavato (Kester) from decommissioned weapons collected since the end of the civil war in 1992.” A different kind of Iron Throne? (Game of Thrones is infecting my brain.)
I don’t remember what this was called and I can’t find it online — however I did find a Guardian article that included this description of it:
“Coronation of Haile Selassie in Addis Ababa in 1930…Under the dove of the Holy Spirit, the Lion of Judah (one of the emperor’s titles) presides over a last supper of animals who would normally prey on each other, and are shown doing so in the scenes at the side…The ruler has done what all rulers ought: banished discord and conflict, and united his country in peace using spiritual means to overcome evil.”
Don’t Miss #8: Easter Island statue Hoa Hakananai’a
Nope! Not posting any pictures of Easter Island statues…UNTIL I GO THERE MYSELF.
Don’t Miss #10: Assyrian Lion Hunt Reliefs
These were out of control. Massive wall reliefs depicting every possible way that you could kill a lion with a pointy weapon. Just lion after lion with spears and arrows lodged in all parts of their bodies. And this:
Don’t Miss #11: Parthenon sculptures
Awesome. Now I really want to go to Greece. (That, and read the next Rick Riordan series.)
Tank really liked this series of sculptures that depicted Greeks battling Centaurs. They can be read as a depiction of a mythical battle between Lapiths and Centaurs that occurred during a feast, or as a depiction of the larger struggle between Athens and Persia.
That was it from The British Museum’s “Don’t Miss” list. But there was SO MUCH MORE TO SEE! Here are just a few more…
Assyrian Gates – I liked these two because they were a mismatched set.
Cuneiform! Rows of cuneiform were carved OVER other wall reliefs. I thought this was an interesting decision as heiroglyphs are usually seen painted or carved around other visual depictions — not right on top.
This was right outside the Parthenon room and is a Nereid Monument. Nereids are water nymphs associated specifically with the Mediterranean (as distinct from Naiad = FRESH water nymph, and Oceanid = SALT water nymph).
I think we were wandering around until 7:30 (it was open until 8:30). So. much. fun.