Somewhere between 6 years of Latin & AP Art History in high school, I remember learning how the British somehow 'gleaned' artifacts and ancient antiquities for safe keeping from the likes of Greece, Italy, and Egypt. So when I started preparing for the trip, I read up on the British Museum. If it has anything historical related to British history - I didn't see it. Because it is totally overshadowed by some of the best finds of old on this Earth. I'll share a few of my favorites today, but be sure to tailor your visit to your interests. Again, the Rick Steve's travel guide gave us a basic path to follow through the museum, but we added detours as I spotted favorites I'd only seen on slides over a decade ago.
Stop One: The Rosetta Stone. Amazingly I couldn't seem to find the big yellow box anywhere. This picture through the glass does a terrible job of showing the detail in it, much less the size of the stone. For anyone who didn't have a hieroglyphics stamp set as a child to use when writing to pen pals (oh yes I did), it's symbolism might be lost on you. Three languages were inscribed on the black stone, but only the medieval Egyptian in the middle and Greek on the bottom were previously known. But since both of these languages translated the same text, they allowed for ancient Egyptian hieroglyphics to be decoded. It was the most famous logic puzzle of 1799 - hand's down.
They had a touchable fake version of the stone which I hovered over for quite a while. It's crazy how the small chiseled text in that stone was preserved and that such a random stone solved such a huge mystery. Mostly I loved seeing the stone thanks to my stamp set. I firmly believe every child should have one. And a pen pal.
Stop Two: Colossal Ramses II Granite Statue. This was the Pharoah of Moses' time who brought plagues upon his people. This top half of the statue is over 7 tons. And it's just the top half. It's crazy to think that walking around Egypt in 1200 BC you would have been surrounded by monstrous statutes like this, pyramids, and the like. It blows my mind how people accomplished this. Without computers. Or cranes.
Stop Three: Red Granite Colossal King Head. Apparently I have a thing for heads....like Mombi in Return to Oz. Minus the creepiness of that movie (am I the only one who saw it as a child? had nightmares for days from the hall of heads??). But really I'm amazed that if the head's are this large - how huge are these stone bodies? And those are still standing in Egypt. It puts Michaelangelo to shame with what he accomplished thousands of years earlier. Really, I'm most sad about this guys missing beard. The Robertson's would be so disappointed someone shaved him along the way.
Stop Four: Mummies. There were so so so many mummies. Of all shapes, sizes, and ornateness. I'd seen a few as a kid at the Chrysler Museum, but this was Andy's first viewing. It's a huge exhibit definitely worth a walk through.
Stop Five: Assyrian Winged Bulls. Let's move about a thousand years into the future to the Assyrian empire that was in the modern day Iraq. The museum has two of these guys who guarded the palace of Sargon II near Ninevah. They're a measly 30 tons each putting the Egyptian heads to shame. For more font fun, there was cuneiform script carved under the lion legs. Yay for ancient writings! And for statues that look like ZZtop!
Stop Six: Neried Monument. Nothing like transporting a whole Greek temple to Britian. The Brit's must have foreseen the future collapse of the Greek government and known they couldn't afford to take care of them. Awesome insight.
Stop Seven: The Parthenon Pediment. My second favorite find behind the Rosetta stone. Seriously. Amazing. A British ambassador had his men saw these sculptures off the temple in the 1800's. Which seems wrong, but worked out well for me. They came from the blank 'triangle' area above the columns pictured below.
Stop Eight: Easter Island Statue.
Well that saves me an extra plane flight to the middle of nowhere.
There is SO MUCH MORE. I'll leave you with a few more of my Roman favorites. Have you been? Any major find's I didn't share? Leave a comment to help someone else plan if you've got more museum touring tips!