History of the British Museum dates back to the 18th century, and its artefacts date back centuries further. The large Palladian style building on Great Russell Street in London is enormous and houses some famous and incredible artefacts. I would love to say I travelled the entirety of the place on the day we visited, but the truth is, you will probably see more than one post because the place really is enormous!
One of the greatest aspects of the museums in Britain is that they are free. There is no set admission fee for entry. The museum does have bins placed throughout the museum requesting donations, and honestly, what is even five pounds when you can view the Rosetta Stone and the Elgin Marbles.
We began with the Cycladic exhibit and worked our way through the Minoan, Greek, Roman, Assyrian, and Egyptian exhibits. We did go inside the Enlightenment exhibit for a time, but we mostly got our feet wet in the ancient artefacts.
I have to say that even my mother-in-law, who didn’t think she’d enjoy the museum, loved it.
It’s a beautiful building and there is so much inside to see. I took a Bronze Age in the Aegean class, so the ancient cultures was an incredible place to start. The Cycladic figurines, the Geometric Greek Pottery, the Roman copies of ancient Greek statues–the Elgin Marbles. It was great.
If someone had no interest in ancient civilisations and were to ask for the highlights, it would be difficult, but I would have to tell them to see two main things–the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone.
I know, I’ve mentioned the Elgin Marbles several times, so what are they. Well, Thomas Bruce, the 7th Earl of Elgin travelled to Greece in 1798. At that time, Greece was a part of the Ottoman Empire. While there, Elgin acquired parts of the Parthenon and other pieces of the Acropolis in Athens. Some sources claim he just took them, and others claim the Ottomans gave him the pieces. Yet, he returned to Britain with them and they now reside in the British Museum–much to the consternation of the Greek government.
In my opinion, the showpiece is the frieze from the Parthenon. The British Museum claims it represents a Panathenaic celebration, but a book by Connelly refuted this and I tend to agree with her interpretation. I highly recommend reading her hypothesis since I don’t have the time or space to cover it all here. Needless to say, it is really interesting–mythology, sacrifices, and everything for entertainment.
The last piece is one my daughter was itching to see, and that is the Rosetta Stone. This is the artefact used to finally translate hieroglyphics. My daughter aside from being a mythology fanatic is a huge reader of Rick Riordan and wanted to see the Rosetta stone since it exploded within the British Museum in one of his books.
Regardless of age or your inclinations, there is something at the British Museum. I’ll update this when I am able to tour more of this amazing place.