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The British Museum - Of Mummies and Rosetta Stones

Pretty much every great city in the world has an equally great museum. And in all my travels, I have been fortunate enough to have seen a few REALLY awesome ones; ParisNew YorkChicagoJerusalem and Rome come to mind.

So when I realized that I had a few hours to kill, I knew that I HAD to check out the British Museumone of the largest and most comprehensive museums in the world!

I am happy to rank this as my UNDISPUTED FAVORITE museum ever; with collections originating from practically every continent.

Best of all, admission is FREE; with the rationale being that all objects found therein belong to all of humanity. God bless them Brits!

British Museum

* Accessed via the Holborn or Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, the British Museum was established in 1753 and has a neo-classical exterior. Originally, the collections found therein were all originally owned and thereafter donated by the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. 


British Museum

* The inside, on the other hand, is a mixture of antique and modern architecture! The Museum paralleled the rise of the British Empire, expanding to add more exhibits as the Empire established more colonies.

Elgin Marbles

* Due to all items being collected (legally or with great coercion) from every continent on earth, there is great controversy with some of the objects on display; particularly with the Elgin Marbles from the Parthenon of Greece. Literally everything you see in this grand hallway was taken from the interior of the Parthenon, leaving only the famous columns and ruins in Athens. The Greeks have long demanded that these priceless artifacts be returned to their homeland.

Nereid Monument

* One of the more impressive objects in the museum is the Nereid Monument, a sculptured tomb resembling a temple, originally located in Xanthos, Lycia. The whole thing (it's HUGE!) was shipped to Britain from Turkey.

British Museum

* Also found here are works of art from one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus. The lion (left) is one of the few-standing sculptures remaining from the Mausoleum having survived since 353 BC.

British Museum

* The Crouching Venus (upper left) hails from the Antonine period and was once referred to by the English as the "finest statue of all" back in 1631. The cult statue of Apollo of Cyrene (upper right) was found in the ancient city of Cyrene, Libya and was crafted in the 2nd Century AD.

British Museum

* With a collection numbering a staggering 330,000 works, the Department of Middle East contains by far the world's largest and most important collection of Mesopotamian (Assyrian, Babylonian, Sumerian), Persian, Arabian, Syrian, Anatolian, Palestinian and Phoenician artifacts in the world.

British Museum

* The Lamassu was an Assyrian protective deity depicted with a bull/lion body, eagle's wings and human head. Found at the entrance of every Assyrian city's main gate, its purpose was to convey the Empire's power and prominence.

British Museum

* From the ruins of Persepolis come these relics from the Ancient Persian Empire: A Persian Soldier (upper left), Subjects, delegates and dignitaries offering tokens to the Persian King (upper right), the lion feasting on the bull (lower left) and Persian armor and weaponry.

British Museum

* Outside the Egyptian Museum in Cairo, the British Museum has the largest and most comprehensive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts in the world! Due to its immense size, the exhibition space currently only displays 4% of its Egyptian holdings!

Rosetta Stone

* The Rosetta Stone is one of the British Museum's most prized possessions. Discovered by Napoleon Bonaparte's forces in Egypt back in 1799, the Stone is the reason why we now have a modern understanding of Egyptian hieroglyphs, a question that had stumped scientists and archaeologists for centuries beforehand. Announcing the ascension of King Ptolemy V, the Stone contains the same message in Hieroglyphs, Demotic script and Ancient Greek.

British Museum Ramsses II

* This COLOSSAL bust of Ramsses II, fondly known as the Younger Memnon, was created in 1270 BC and discovered in Thebes. Celebrated as the greatest and most powerful pharaoh of the Egyptian Empire, Ramsses II was also the pharaoh depicted in the biblical story of Moses!

British Museum

* Among the other artifacts in the Egyptian exhibit include a sarcophagus (top), Black granite statues of Sekhmet (lower left, 1400 BC), the goddess of healing, and three black granite statues of Sesotris III (lower right, 1850 BC), the pharaoh who built the "Canal of the Pharaohs."

British Museum

* One of the more featured pharaohs in the museum is Amenhotep III, also known as Amenhotep the Magnificent. It was during his reign that Egypt reached the peak of her artistic and international power. His sculptures here include a limestone bust (left), seated (middle), and colossal red granite (right).

British Museum

* The Museum also has a collection of 140 mummies and coffins, the largest outside of Cairo. Obviously, this collection is the most popular exhibit among visitors here!

British Museum

* Coffins in all shapes, colors, and sizes.. literally. They even have coffins for babies and animals!

British Museum

* The Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas contains some real trippy statues including the Hoa Hakananai'a (right), the Easter Island statue.

British Museum

* More creepy than trippy, the Aztec exhibit showcases such items as the Mosaic Mask of Tezcatlipoca (left) and the Aztec Serpent, Quetzalcoatl (bottom).

British Museum King's Library

* The King's Library houses the donated personal library of King George III, containing over 65,000 volumes, maps, charts and drawings. Now THIS is how a home library should look like!

British Museum

* Not to be outdone, the Department of Asia contains over 75,000 artifacts covering all the cultures of the Asian continent! Very impressive considering that apart from the Indian subcontinent, huge parts of Asia were never colonized by the British.

British Museum

* Some epic looking statues include The Judgement Figure (top left, Ming Dynasty), and the Seated Luohan from Yixian (bottom).

British Museum

* More Tibetan/Chinese figures on display! Them Ancient Asians sure had wild imaginations!

British Museum

* This looks like that crazy, flying, dagger from that Alec Baldwin movie, The Shadow!!

British Museum

* Not limited to ancient, prehistoric items, the Museum also offers a vast collection of Medieval artifacts, most of which are Christian themed.

Lewis Chess-Set

* These two troubled-looking fellas are part of the Lewis Chess-set, a group of 12th Century chess pieces made out of walrus ivory.

British Museum

* A special exhibit features actual items relating to the famous Gladiators of Ancient Rome. Along with helmets, armors and personal property (Right) are actual advertisements promoting the Gladiator games! (Left)

British Museum

* Those sure are a lot of detailed, sculpted, heads! The craftsmanship and level of quality exhibited by people who lived two thousand years ago never fails to astound!

British Museum

* Some other cool stuff include: Etruscan Burial Tombs (Top left and Middle left) and a Column from yet another member of Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, The Temple of Artemis in Ephesus (Bottom right).

British Museum

* Finally, here's a shot of an ancient chap who just happens to look like the Writer. They even got the hand-clasping and "bang-bang" pose right!

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