Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Mummies and Ancient Mesopotamia: It's all free at The British Museum

This has to be one of the best free days out in London, and also was top of our To Do In London On Days Off list.
The atrium building is awesome, check out the open-mouthed man on the left!
As I mentioned, it's free to go in, the only thing you could buy is a guide map in any language you can think of, but to be honest you don't really need one as everything is really well signposted.
I made a bee-line for Ancient Egypt, where I'd been promised mummies. Ever since my trips to Carnack Temple and the pyramids in Egypt I've had a hankering to see an actual mummy, and lo and behold, the Mummies are out on display here!
There's this man, preserved in the traditional way, which is well documented throughout the exhibition. Check it out.
Apparently there were 3 main methods, but generally the whole process took 70 days, 40 days of cleansing/preparing the body and 30 days of wrapping it.
Let's look closer at his face. Amazing.
There are also mummified Bulls
Cats and kittens (the cylindrical one at the front is a kitten!)
The exhibition also features Shabti, little models of servants, which were buried with you, to take into the afterlife.
This man was preserved simply by being buried in sand.
He's still shading his face from the sand-storm, it's actually quite touching and reminds me of something I saw at Pompeii (except obviously with ash, not sand).
So we mooched on to Mesopotamia, which I learned basically covered modern Iraq and Eastern Syria. This was a civilisation from 8000-1595C, with most densely populated, prosperous time being around 3500BC. Uruk was one of the city centres, and grew to 5km square.
The first writing appeared sometime before 3000BC in Mesopotamia, and was triangular tablature called Cuneiform.
This was a regal library. Again, the speechless man...Images of the Flintstones spring to mind (because of the stones-slab 'books', not the man).
Mmm...Mesopotamian bling. I'd like these.
So, we carried on through ancient Greece, where we found this ancient game called Ur, Cyprus and the Roman Empire.
The most, er, unexpected thing I found were these.
The plaque underneath the rings (worn mostly by children!) explains it all, way better than I could. Those thoughtful Romans, eh!

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