The British Museum

Standard

I went to the British Museum last Sunday specifically to see the Ribchester Hoard. The Ribchester Hoard is a box of gear found in Ribchester, where I’ll be heading to in a week. It belonged to a Roman soldier stationed there in the late 1st to early 2nd century AD. The most famous piece is called the Ribchester Helmet. It wasn’t an actual fighting helmet—it would have been used for show in combative displays.

The Ribchester Helmet

The Ribchester Helmet

This is what an actual practical Roman helmet looks like.

This is what a practical Roman helmet looks like.

There was plenty of other cool stuff to see, though.

Gold sheet from 8th century BC NW Iran.

Gold sheet from 8th century BC NW Iran.

This is partially the art style of the steppe nomads I love so much. This particular gold sheet combines the zoomorphic Animal Style of steppe nomads (the running deer, in particular, is a motif found in various ethnicities across the steppes) and Near Eastern art (the trellis encasing the deer and ibex).

People like to say that American serving sizes are ridiculously huge. I'd like to submit the Brackley Tankard as a counterargument. This things is about 8-9 in in diameter.

People like to say that American serving sizes are ridiculously huge. I’d like to submit the Brackley Tankard as a counterargument. This thing is about 8-9 in across.

The Lewis Chessmen--first known example of having a bishop. Probably made in Norway in the 12th century, but found in Scotland. The rooks are berserkers biting their shields.

The Lewis Chessmen–first known example of having a bishop. Probably made in Norway in the 12th century, but found in Scotland. The rooks are berserkers biting their shields.

The dimensions of the photograph are skewed; his face really does look deflated.

The dimensions of the photograph aren’t skewed; his face really does look deflated.

The Lindow Man is a marvel of conservation. Mummies are very fragile. When I saw that episode of Castle when the workers break down a wall and find a sarcophagous, then a so-called archeologist shows up and says “Open it!” A very concerned “No!” actually escaped my lips and I lunged at the screen to stop them before catching myself and feeling rather silly. And then Castle went and opened it without asking…*shudder*. There’s a very good reason mummies are treated so delicately and only handled in controlled environments.

The Lindow Man has been immersed in a chemical which prevents shrinkage during drying, frozen encased in cling wrap, then freeze dried (to remove the water). Now, he sits on display out in the open. There’s no glass case around him. The only protection he has from the elements is that he faces a corner of the room and has an overhang above him, presumably to prevent deterioration caused by UV light. And he looks amazing (well, from a preservation standpoint, at least).

Horned helmet?....Or ancient Pikachu cosplay? Last century BC, London

Horned helmet?….Or ancient steampunk Pikachu cosplay?
Last century BC, London

There were even a couple crocodilian-related things—specifically Nile crocs (Crocodylus niloticus). Or, more likely, desert crocs (Crocodylus suchus). The two have only recently been recognized as separate species by modern scientists, though the Ancient Egyptians could tell. They preferentially interacted with the calmer desert croc, turning them into mummies and even keeping them as pets.

Not depicted: the moment shortly after when the crocodile showed the demonstrator why it's a bad idea to make apex predators angry. Turn of the millennium Roman statue

Not depicted: the moment shortly after when the crocodile showed the acrobat why it’s a bad idea to make apex predators angry.
Turn of the millennium Roman statue

Apologies for the bad lighting...they really need to install non-reflective glass in this room.

Apologies for the bad lighting…they really need to install non-reflective glass in this room.

That last one is a ceremonial suit of armor made of crocodile skin (complete with osteoderms!). The British museum has curators scheduled in rooms at various times to lead 45 min tours highlighting some of the objects and expounding on their history. The guy leading the tour in this room was really quite awesome.

This was likely worn by an Egyptian auxiliary soldier as a way of showing national pride while on parade. The suit is actually turned around relative to how it was on the croc—the croc’s back is on the soldier’s front and vice-versa. A second, smaller croc’s back was used to make the helmet. The pauldrons were made by simply cutting hinged armholes, then preparing them in such a way that they stuck out.

 

And if you take your own trip to the British Museum, I recommend stopping by the Tea and Tattle across the street and a block west for traditional English Tea. Their scones are mouth-wateringly delicious. I didn’t know scones could taste that good. UI Food services, may I suggest rethinking your recipe?

//

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s