Monday, January 30, 2012

British Museum

The British Museum may have been one of the most overwhelming parts of my trip.  Basically it boils down to the fact that anything important that ever happened in history is probably here.  Even though I felt before that I had a pretty decent sense of world history, I left here wanting to know so much more.  This is a site that is best visited by spending a week beforehand studying a certain time period, like ancient Egypt for example, and then taking a day to go through that section of the museum, repeating the process the next week with a different period of time from history.  If I had to use one word to describe this place, it would probably be awe.  I didn't take any pictures while in the museum, so I've looked up pictures on the internet of the things that stood out the most to me.

Lewis Chessmen--the oldest chess set ever found, from Scotland in the 1100's.
There was tons of jewelry from lots of different time periods, which I loved
Firmalampe--Roman style lamps made in ancient Britain
One of my big impressions while going through this part of the museum was how amazed I was at how resourceful and creative people were, and the great skills they had to make such individual and unique and beautiful pieces.  I also saw a lot of Greek sculptures and remembered how much I love them.  I would love to have a garden with some Greek-esque sculptures one day.  When seeing this particular piece below, I felt so envious of this lounge position that is so common in Greek and Italian sculptures and paintings.  I'm not even asking for a lifetime of lounging, but even just a half hour of being able to lounge at this point in my life would be so glorious!
These wall carvings are from Persia and/or Assyria/Nineveh.  The writing is cuneiform, which is what they used before Arabic.  The third picture is, if I remember correctly, a gate from Nineveh. 
There were tons of amazing things from Ancient Egypt as well!!  The Rosetta Stone, of course, was the biggest attraction, along with the Ramesses II head (the third picture below).  The second picture isn't any specific Pharaoh, just a ginormous statue. 

The Greek stuff was super cool too!  The Neried Monument (first picture below) was huge and super impressive!  The Parthenon Frieze in the second picture below was also super cool.  One room was full of everyday life things from ancient Greek and Rome, and I especially liked the section of games they had, like knucklebones and dice. 
Also in this section of Greece and Rome, I saw the symbol of medicine, the serpent on the staff, and I pondered for a while about this, because I realized that the serpent on the staff is a symbol that comes from when Moses held up the serpent on his staff for the children of Israel to be healed.  That got me thinking a lot about healing and Christ and the Atonement, and I thought that was really neat. 

I also saw a couple of neat sketches, one by Overbeck, a precursor to his painting Italia and Germania (I included a picture of the painting as well, even though it wasn't in the museum), and a woodcarving by Durer called Triumphal Arch.  There were also a lot of really neat Asian pieces as well.
At the end, they also had on display an example of the 2012 Olympic Gold Medal, which I thought was pretty neat!

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