Sunday, 17 April 2011

In Which I Spend a Cultural Morning

When I arranged to Zombie I booked a hotel for Friday night as well as Thursday, as I knew there was the possibility we might not finish filming until late, and I didn't want to be rushing to catch a train. It also left me with the option of spending Saturday in London.
Thame & Skyline from Canary Wharf

I was able to take some pretty pictures of the skyline before turning in for the night. The hotel I was staying in was right on the river, and had a ferry across to Canary Wharf, which I took in order to get a meal on Friday night.

Thames & Canary Wharf
On Saturday morning,  I decided to visit the British Museum, and to see the Afghanistan exhibition which is running until July.
The Great Court, British Museum
It really was very impressive.  And not only the exhibits but also the fact that they have survived at all - many of them were preserved by museum curators in Afghanistan who hid them to save them from looting or from destruction by the taliban.

The exhibits span millenia - there are gold vessels from around 2000 BC, through to painted glass, carved ivories and gold ornaments (including the crown) which date to the 1st Century AD. Afghanistan was on the Silk Road, and traded across the world, so the artefacts show influence (and sometimes imports) from Mespotomania, China, Indian, and the Greek & Roman Empires.

The crown was part of a set of grave-goods discovered with the body of a 1st century nomadic woman - it's actually made to come to pieces and fold flat, which displays a nice mix of practicality and adornment. it's also incredibly delicate - all of he individual flowers are  made from very thin gold, and even inside the safety of a display case it moved - presumably due to visitors footfalls - you can see how impressive it would be when worn, moving with evey breeze, and every movement of the wearer.

She and her companions also had numerous gold beads which originally decorated their clothing, also big, chunky necklaces, bangles and anklets. They were all very young - in their early 20s when they died. (the exhibition offeredd no explanation as to how they died, but I guess that life expectancy wasn't high for 1st century nomads)

When I had seen the exhibition, I look a quick look into one or two other rooms, to see some 20th Omani wedding jewellery, and to visit one of my favourite of the museum's exhibits, this Ice Age sculpture of swimming reindeer, which is around 13,000 years old. It gets me every time. 

It's such a lovely thing, and the thought that it has survived, and still speaks to us, after so long, is, at least to me, astonishing.

I do love the British Museum. I love that (apart from the special exhibitions) it's free, so that one can pop in and out, and spend just a little time, without feeling you haven't got your money's worth.

I love that it has such a huge range of exhibits, covering so many cultures, across so many centuries. I wish I lived s little closer, but as it is, I manage to visit most times I'm in London, and perhaps, by the time I am old and decrepit, I shall have managed to see it all...

On this occasion, I didn't stay for long, as my day as a zombie had worn me out, so I eneded up heeading back to Paddington to head home for an early night. Maybe next time I shall stay a little longer.

1 comment:

spacedlaw said...

Looks all great! I particularly like the second picture.
I've never been to the British museum, alas.
I am way overdue for a visit to London too.