Friday, 18 November 2011

British Museum

By Jacob, Zachary and Debbie

One of the great things about London is that a lot of the museums are free. Jacob says the British Museum is one of his favorites. We went there twice and still only saw a small portion of it.

Our Second London Flickr Album!

Rosetta Stone
One of the greatest treasures of the Museum is the Rosetta Stone. The Rosetta Stone is a rock with 3 types of writing that provided the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics It was found by French soldiers in 1799 at Fort St. Julien, el Rashid (Rosetta) Egypt on the western Nile Delta. It is a grey granite rock weighing 760kg. It is incomplete and was thought to be about 50 cm taller. There are 53 lines of Greek script, 32 lines of cursive demotic Egyptian script and 14 lines of ancient hieroglyphics. By comparing the known Greek with the others, it was possible to decipher the hieroglyphics. The inscription on the Rosetta Stone is a decree written in 196 B.C. on the first anniversary of the coronation of Ptolomy V who became ruler when he was 13 years old. 

We bought a 800 piece puzzle of the Rosetta Stone and Mom thinks it is the hardest puzzle we have ever done. At least as hard as deciphering the actual Rosetta Stone itself.

There was a large collection of Assyrian gates, carvings. There was a sculpture of the head of Sargon the Great and carved reliefs of the battles of Ashurpanipal.

Cyrus Cylinder
Another very interesting thing we saw was the Cyrus Cylinder. This is a clay cylinder with an account of the conquest of Babylon by Cyrus the Great of Persia in 539 B.C. It was written in Babylonian script and was designed to be buried in the city walls of Babylon.  It has records of the kings of Babylon and then part in Cyrus' own words starting "I, Cyrus, king of the world..." Cyrus is the king talked about in Isaiah who released the Israelite people from their 70 years of captivity and allowed them to go back to Jerusalem and rebuild their temple and walls there.

Hokusai Wave
There was also an exhibit about Hokusai's print "The Great Wave", also called Under the Wave, off Kanagawa. This was a colour wood block print by Katsushika Hokusai in 1831 and is unarguably the most famous Japanese print of all. It shows Mount Fuji in the background and a great storm wave towering over 3 fishing boats in the foreground. 
The British Museum is so huge and comprehensive because the British Empire was so good at grabbing and taking things from places throughout the world - the ultimate sticky-fingered discount! And it wasn't even just little small stuff they'd sneak in their pockets. We're talking massive Egyptian statues and whole Greek temples! Imagine paying the shipping on this stuff!
It wouldn't be the British without lots and lots of mummies. No King Tut though. The mummies are the second most popular thing at the British after the Rosetta Stone. Luckily, it was a Sunday and the crowds weren't too overwhelming.
The British also had an exhibit 'from metal to medal' about the creation of the London Olympic medals, from mining the ore through to design and casting. Hey, the medals are designed by an artist named Lin CHEUNG!


  1. Another great post!! I have been to the British Museum at least 3 times and still have not seen everything. When Uncle Crabby and I went many years ago, you could do rubbings of the rosetta stone. We also ended up downstairs in the basement of the museum wandering the store rooms with all the "sticky fingered" artifacts not currently on display. Perhaps we should have pocketed a few Greek busts...... On that trip we seemed to have had a penchant for ending up in places where we probably should not have been. I doubt we could do that now. Uncle Crabby does not have nearly enough table dance money for bail - ha ha!! I seem to remember also that on that first trip to the museum, Uncle Crabby felt that the coffee and sandwhich we had at the cafeteria was the most expensive EVER and he made me eat canned pork and beans for 3 days afterwards. Uncle Crabby has no idea what he is in for when I get him to buy me lunch at the Met this spring. When he does, I might be able to cut a deal for either the lunch or the millenium falcon. hahahah

  2. Your photos of the exhibits in the British Museum sure brings back memories. It has been a number of years since we've visited. Somehow, all I could remember from the experience were the Elgin Marbles and the Rosetta Stone. I guess it wouldn't be difficult to remember the Rosetta Stone for us since we bought a large replica of it at the Museum Store to bring home with us! It is now hanging up in one of our bathrooms. It is there so that anytime I use the bathroom, I can spend some time trying to decipher it ;-)

    I know it is now Saturday night in Brussels. What did you guys do today and how is the weather? In Calgary, it is just Saturday morning and we awoke to the thermometer reading -20C. With that temperature it is just not motivating to do anything!

  3. Very glad to meet you write things.