Sunday, April 02, 2006

I saw dead people...

...at the British Museum. More mummies than you can shake a stick at. Unfortuately for me, this was the first thing I decided to do after eating lunch. I do not recommend this.

Because I got off the tube at Goodge Street, I ended up entering the museum from the back (north) side. The first thing I noticed is that I wasn't searched and I didn't have to step through a metal detector, which is common practice in Washington DC area museums. Then again, they don't have copies of the Constitution in the British Museum, cuz, well, the UK doesn't have one.

The security guard who sold me the map (for 2 pounds; admission is free) warned me that I couldn't see everything in a day, and boy was he right. So I decided to prioritize: First, King Tut. Except that he wasn't there. Apparently he is the one archeological discovery the Brits returned to the country they raided it from. So instead I got to see all the other mummies, which prompted me to ask: Is there anything the ancient Egyptians DIDN'T mummify? I saw dead cats, crocodiles, falcons, baboons. It was a bit much.

Then I turned a corner to an exhihit titled "Sex and Humour." (Yes, I realize I am using British spelling there. That's how they write things on signs here.) Now, I know this is a family blog, so let me just say that the ancient Egyptians, like many of us in modern times, were very concerned about fertility -- even in the afterlife. And they included, uh, symbols of this in their tombs. And just as I stepped closer to read about the symbols, I was hemmed in by four teenage boys, speaking (I think) Italian. I am pretty sure my elbow is in one of their photos. In fact, I made a lot of cameo appearances in a lot of photos and videos; I will be HUGE in Japan and France, I'm tellling you.

I did get to see another artifact of great fame: the Rosetta Stone. And I was kind of disappointed in it. It's not that big, it's dimly lit, and you have to fight your way through throngs of people and cameras to even see it. After Egypt, I hit a special exhibit on money that was very cool to an amateur coin collector like me. Then I browsed the Greco-Roman sculpture, including busts of Marcus Aurelius, Augustus and his wife Livia, and statuettes of the 12 Olympian gods.

By that time I was pretty knackered. But I couldn't leave without a visit to the gift shop. In the same way there isn't anything the Egyptians wouldn't mummify, there isn't anything the British Museum won't slap hieroglyphics on and sell. Coffee mugs, postcards, stationery, t-shirts. Great collections of books -- on everything from Byzantium to Arctic clothing. You can even buy a copy of the Book of the Dead, in case you haven't had enough of the dead.

3 Comments:

Blogger Middle Kid said...

Humour? Theatre? Knackered???? You, my dear, are becoming British in record time!

1:24 AM  
Blogger Smitty Werbenmanjensen said...

Oh, but my dear, to see the Rosetta Stone, the artifact that's explained the evolution of human language better than anything else in the world ever has, must surely be worth it.

When I stop working for a day, perhaps I'll go take a gander.

6:54 AM  
Anonymous The Old Man From Scene 24 said...

I saw the Rosseta stone too, I even touched when no one was looking.

I like the Dead too, I used to follow them around in the late 80s/early 90s.

4:50 PM  

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