A Colossal Last Day

Filled with History, Song, and Pints

First stop… The British Museum

Located in the Bloomsbury area of London, the British Museum was the first public museum in the world. It was founded in 1753 upon the death of Sir Hans Sloane, a physician, naturalist, and collector from the North of Ireland. Over his lifetime, Sloane collected more than 71,000 objects which he wanted to be preserved intact after his death. He bequeathed his entire collection to King George II in exchange for a payment of £20,000 to his heirs.

The British Museum opened to the public in January of 1759, granting free entry to all “studious and curious persons.” (britishmuseum.org)

Museum Street…

We join the queue for the security checkpoint.

We pass through security and enter…

Wow! Here are the pics I took…


The Rosetta Stone

This stone slab is the only remaining fragment of a larger stone (stela), recording a decree on March 27, 196 BC regarding the decision of the Egyptian priests to establish a royal cult in return for Ptolemy’s concessions to the Egyptian temples. Ptolemy V Epiphanes was the boy-king ruler of Egypt. (plaque in museum)

The top of the decree was written in hieroglyphs. In the middle the same decree was written in Demotic, the everyday script of literate Egyptians, and at the bottom in Greek, the language used by the government. (plaque in museum)

Because these 3 versions of the decree are only slightly different from each other, the Rosetta Stone was the key to deciphering Egyptian hieroglyphics and Egyptian history.


This human-headed winged bull is one of a pair that originally stood at a gate of a citadel from the city and palace of Khorsabad, built for the Assyrian king Sargon II (721-705 BC).

The bull sculptures used their magic to protect the city and palace.


Sarcophagus

A stone coffin was reserved for burying royalty and the elite. The dead were buried facing east, towards the living who brought them offerings.


This is an example of a false door known as “Ka doors” common in mortuary temples and tombs of ancient Egypt. These doors allowed Ka, an element of the soul, to pass through them. The deceased could interact with the living world by passing through the door or receiving offerings through it.(ancientegyptonline.co.uk)


Statues of Sekhmet

Sekhmet is the Egyptian goddess of the sun, war, destruction, plagues, and healing. She is one of the oldest and most powerful deities. (egyptian-gods.org)


Sarcophagus of Merymose

Merymose was a “king’s son of Kush”, ruling the whole of conquered Nubia (then known as Wawat and Kush) on behalf of the pharaoh. Such officials were never true sons of the pharaoh but they were subservient to him alone and thus deserved being buried in a sarcophagus. (plaque in museum)


King Ramesses II

This is the upper part of a colossal seated statue, one of a pair flanking the entrance to the hypostyle hall in the king’s mortuary temple called the Ramesseum. (plaque in museum)

In architecture, a hypostyle hall means “under pillars” or an interior space whose roof rests on pillars or columns. (britannica.com)


Libation Bowl

Priests used bowls like this in temples for liquid offerings to the gods.

The goddess Hathor adorns the rim. Flat depictions of persons were usually in profile, but Hathor, the most universal goddess, was most often displayed in frontal view. Notice she has cow’s ears, but she could also be represented with horns or even as a cow. (plaque in museum)


Sarcophagus of the God’s Wife Ankhnesneferibra

The inscriptions on this coffin are an eclectic mix of religious texts to help the deceased attain the afterlife. There are excerpts from the Pyramid Texts, the Book of the Dead, magical and mythological texts, recitations from funerary rites, a sun hymn, and hourly rituals for a vigil over the deceased. (plaque in museum)

The Pyramid Texts are the oldest religious writings in the world and make up the principal funerary literature of ancient Egypt.

The Egyptian Book of the Dead is a collection of spells which enable the soul of the deceased to navigate the afterlife.(ancient.eu)


Colossal Scarab

This is one of the largest representations of scarab beetles to survive. The scarab represented Khepri, the form assumed by the sun-god at dawn.

The Egyptians noticed that scarab beetles hatch from buried dung balls as if by self-creation.

Similarly, the sun-god was also believed to be self-creating, renewing his powers each night before his rebirth at daybreak. (plaque in museum)


Forepart of a Colossal Chariot Horse from the Quadriga (about 350 BC)

The four-horse group, quadriga, positioned on the summit of the Mausoleum at Halikarnassos was a great feat of engineering. Each horse was carved in sections with a tail attached separately. Here the original bronze bridle and bit remain.

The Mausoleum, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World, gave its name to all subsequent monumental tombs. (plaque in museum)


Wow! As a “studious and curious person” with free admission, you could visit the British Museum every weekend for a very long time before exhausting its permanent collection of some 8 million works documenting the story of human culture from its beginnings to the present!


Next stop… Westminster Abbey

We take a taxi from the British Museum to Westminster Abbey to attend Evensong.

The taxi drops us off and we walk to the famous church.


Westminster Abbey

Neither a cathedral nor a parish church, Westminster Abbey, or the Collegiate Church of St. Peter, Westminster (its proper title), is a “Royal Peculiar” under the jurisdiction of a Dean and Chapter, subject only to the Sovereign and not to any archbishop or bishop.

It has been the setting for every Coronation since 1066 and for numerous other royal occasions, including 16 royal weddings. Catherine Middleton and Prince William were married here in 2011.

Today it is still a church dedicated to regular worship. (westminster-abbey.org)


Evensong

Andy and I attend the 3:00 pm Evening Prayer service, the liturgy in the Anglican tradition celebrated in the late afternoon or evening. It is also known as Evensong, especially when most of the service is sung by a choir. (en.m.wikipedia.org)

I just walked down the aisle of historical coronations and the wedding venue of Kate and Will!


We leave Westminster Abbey behind and walk towards the Houses of Parliament.

Here’s a picture of Big Ben buried beneath all the scaffolding.


We take the tube to Bermondsey Street.

Yep, that’s the Shard in the background!


We stop for a pint at the Woolpack on Bermondsey Street.


We leave the Woolpack and pass by this interesting sculpture at Vinegar Yard on St. Thomas Street.


The Tube again…


We arrive back in Islington and have time for one last pint before I leave tomorrow.

The Camden Head beer garden is the same “last day” venue that Andy and his brothers, Brian and John, shared for Brian’s 40th birthday extravaganza last September.


What a great visit! Thank you, Andy for being the perfect host and son! I can’t wait to return!

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