Friday (Oct 13, 2006), we spent most of the afternoon at the british Museum. What a treat it is yo see it. We were able barely scrape the surface.
As we entered around noon, we were drawn into a big courtyard, and we spent some time checking the layout of the museum and what was “must see” on our list. Following a quick bite to eat, we launched into the museum complex. First we saw the exhibit on the Americas, which showed Native American artifacts from the pacific Northwest, California coast, South east and North east tribes, followed by an extensive collection from various parts of Mexico and central America. We saw atleast a dozen different regional artifacts, from 500 BC to around 1500 AD when the Europeans came to the new world. Most of the materials are extraordinarily well preserved.
After that we saw some fine tapestry, special artifacts in the main hall.
As we continued our journey, we entered the Korean and Japanese part of the museum. We got a good history lesson on Korea, Japan. The variety of items included a model house built the old fashined style, old samarai periods in Japan, early entry of Buddhism to Japan, and later into Korea were presented. We saw some pottery from Korea, Japan, and some clothing styles of the forgotten eras.
After` this we entered the Egyptian section of the museum, home to relics from the ancient Egyptian world from 2000 BC to the present. Materials presented included mummies, medicinal treatment for the regular folks, worshipping the Gods of Egypt, and some spectacular segments from pyramids to help us learn how to read the writings inside the tombs.
This led us into the influence of Greeks on southern Italy, Sicily and Cyprus. It was most interesting to see how the Greek styles helped adapt to different regions while still maintaining a strong Greek root.
We went through Roman period covering 100 BC to 600 AD with life long statues of some of the Rman emperors during the period. I was lookingt for Julius Caesar, Augustis Caesar, Mark Anthony of some others I would have recognized, but alas that was not to be.
We also saw a coin collection from Bizentyne era.
After`al thiswe went into an exhibit called “Myths of Bengal” taken from the area of Bengal covered by Bangla Desh and West Bengal, a state in India. The focus was on Goddess Durga, Kali, stories of some muslim mystics, and the stories of Rama and Krishna. they were very colorful. Also was a note about one of the devotees of Kali by name Ramakrishna Paramahamsa. His disciple, Swami Vivekananda, came to the US in 1893 and spoke at the Parliment of Religions, whee many recall that the name of Baha’u’llah was introduced to the west publicly. The result of Swami Vivekananda’s visit was the arrival of Vedanta Society centers throughout the west.
Finally we saw Islam showcased on one floor in a large room; wow! what a show; we saw the influence of muslims and their contribution to the world from Spain, from Babylon and Mesapotamia, Mongolia, India. We saw quite a few artifacts from Iran and the influence of Sunni and Shia muslims. The displays were majestic and very inspiring. I saw pieces that influenced the grand gate in Isfahan, examples of tiles used in mosques using Mongilian influence etc.
By now we were quite worn out. So that was the end of the British Museum for today.
We came back to the Hotel and had dinner at a Thai Restaurant.
Tomorrow will be a long day as we plan to take a guided tour of a castle at Leeds, see the White Cliffs of Dover, the Cathedral at Canterbury, see the Royal Observatory at Greenwich and take a cruise on the Thames.
I will write about it tomorrow.