Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Den of Thieves

The British are the greatest preservers (thieves) of world culture in history, and this is where they keep all their artefacts (loot): The British Museum.

Shelley and I made our second trip out to the museum yesterday, and, just like the first visit, it was well worth it. I have no doubt that it is the best museum of its kind anywhere in the world, and it's free (which, come to think of it, makes my 'well worth it' comment seem pretty meaningless).

Shelley, pondering a great civilization.

Why not just pack the temple up and take it home?

Me in a 3rd Century BC Corinthian helmet; Shelley in one of her finest moments of photography.

Again, let's just chisel these reliefs off the wall and take them home, I'm sure the Assyrians won't mind.

As you can see, the British have taken lots of stuff (i.e. the most impressive things) from great civilizations all round the world; Egypt, Assyria, Greece, Persia, India, China, Meso-America. I really don't think they missed out on anything. In fact, I would say if you were living anywhere in the world during the 19th Century, chances are, a man with a waxed-moustache and a Safari hat would poke his head in and ask, 'Can I have a bit of that?'

This guy looks very much like he's missing his friends.


I don't know if anyone paid much attention to these crystal skulls before the latest Indiana Jones movie, but they certainly do now. Many people (including one museum patron, who video-taped the exhibit from multiple angles for close to five minutes) attribute mystical powers to these skulls. Of course, the only one of these to be varified is an uncanny ability to suck life out of cinema-goers.

(The British Museum has not been quick to act on the skulls' popularisation; this one remains in a poorly-lit corner of a poorly-lit room. Seems the curators were disappointed with the movie also - another tick for the British Museum!)


bitingmidge said...

I cannot go without saying how incredibly impressed I am with the helmet shot.

You ought to open a shop Shell!

I think I'll borrow that one some day!

Helen | Pepperina Press said...

I'm deeply impressed – with the Brits' prolific thievery, Shelley's arresting photography and your commentary, which makes the British Museum much more entertaining than it probably deserves to be.

bitingmidge said...

Actually, I'm sure the Brits left something in their travels.

The Romans left roads and aquaducts and the odd feat of engineering.

The Brits gave us queues.