Thursday, July 28, 2011

British Museum: A Window Into All That Is the Past

There cannot be many other places on Earth like the British Museum, where you can see so many things from so many different civilizations in one sitting. The building itself is gigantic, having to accommodate for so many different relics and artifacts. I was truly overwhelmed at all of these things that I had only seen in textbooks coming to life in front of me.
The museum really is too large to be seen in one afternoon, with historical artifacts from China, Japan, Australia, different parts of Africa and the Middle East, and Native cultures such as the Inca and Maya. The first exhibit I found myself in was only appropriate: Mesopotamia, the cradle of civilization. These objects (tools, carvings, and various objects of the like) dated from 6000-1500 BC; it was beyond comprehension. Centuries before anyone even knew just how big the world was and how many places it contained, these tools were used to maintain one of the world’s earliest people.

We decided to take in the ancient Egypt exhibit, and it was beyond anything I could have imagined. Most of the objects on display were used by the rich of Egypt, as the poorer communities could not afford luxuries, nor were they buried with them in tombs, which is where most of the artifacts were found. Furniture, pots, decoration, and protective relics (clay cobras were often placed in the corners of rooms to protect the house) were all on display. It was an unrivaled inside look into how the better half lived.

This is a granite stela from the tomb-chapel of important officials
who served under Pharaoh Nebamun.

If seeing objects used by ancient Egyptians wasn’t enough, we also saw actual ancient Egyptians. Mummies of all sorts were on display in one entire room. Mummies of men, women, young boys and even cats all appeared very well preserved. How well the sarcophagus was decorated could also usually tell you how high in the social ladder this particular person was; for example, high priests were easy to identify with their well-painted, extravagant coffins.

The British Museum is the best way I know of to actually see what our world used to be. The amount of priceless windows into the past found within this building is staggering, and I would call it a must see for any visitors to London. It is the best way to realize a significant appreciation for our past.

by: Adam Troxtell

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