Friday, July 19, 2013

Anthropology Literally Unlocks Doors

You know those "staff only" doors in museums, and how you're always dying to know what's hidden behind them? Today we found out. And it was awesome.

The British Museum. Ancient Egypt and Sudan Department. Backstage.

Professor Ullinger's friend, Daniel, is a curator at the museum and gave us a tour of some really amazing stuff that's not currently on view to the public. How cool is that?

We got to see one of the only 12 pre-dynastic Egyptian mummies in the world, ancient Egyptian jewellery (Tiffany & Co. have nothing on the Egyptians!), papyrus pages of Book of the Dead (spells to help the deceased in the afterlife), and mummies with tattoos! They're so well preserved the tattoos are still visible to the naked eye.

Seriously it was incredible how many locked doors we went through. The anthropology community has got some serious pull in museums, and that meant seeing all those truly incredible objects. Unfortunately, we still weren't allowed to touch. All in due time, right?

Before the museum, Paige and I climbed all 628 steps of St. Paul's Cathedral, straight to the top of the dome, after having climbed the 311 steps of the Monument yesterday. I could not have imagined more incredible views of the city. We also had time to visit Millennium Bridge.

Top of St. Paul's Cathedral
Millennium Bridge

We arrived to the museum a few hours early so we could look around, went on the amazing tour, had the most delicious afternoon tea, and then stayed for another couple of hours to keep exploring.

Tea Party!
Professor Haldane, I was thinking of you when I saw that Africa was grouped into one gallery relegated to the basement, when other galleries were broken up by country. No other continent is going to be considered 1 homogenous amalgam that can be summed up in a single room. Silent rage.

Now what was contained in that room was breathtaking. There was one piece, called The Tree of Life, which was made from recovered guns in Mozambique. An organization was set up that allowed people to trade in their guns in exchange for ploughs and tractors. It was so inspiring that I actually got a little emotional.

Tree of Life
Quick shoutout to my friend, Sybelle! She's in London for the summer as an au pair and we met up for a bite to eat a few nights ago.

Sybelle and Paige Playing in the Park
The three of us walked around Bishop's Park right on the Thames, which was beautiful at night. Incredible stroke of fortune that we were both in the city at the same time!


1 comment:

  1. Thanks for reinforcing the fact that Africa is not a country! Great description of behind-the-scenes tour. You are so lucky to see this side of museum work. Prof. Haldane