When I heard the British Museum’s exhibition A History of the World in 100 Objects was coming to Canberra I could not stop smiling. Since its arrival, I have visited three times and plan more visits in the near future. In this post, I’m going to take you on a short tour of the exhibition, showing off my favourite objects.
So come on, let’s travel through two million years of human history together.
There are nine parts in this exhibition, with a 101 item in ‘the world today’:
- Beginnings (2,000,000 years ago to 2500 BCE)
- The First Cities (3000-700 BCE)
- Power and Philosophy (700BCE-100CE)
- Ritual and Belief (1-800 CE)
- Trading and Invading (300- 1100 CE)
- Trading and Invading (300- 1100 CE)
- Innovation and Adaptation (900-1550CE)
- Encounters and Connections (1500-1800CE)
- The World of our Making (1800CE to today)
- The World today
Most of my favourite items are ancient, but I must admit to got super excited to see the first ever ‘WiFi machine‘ in this exhibition. I even instilled a suitable amount of awe in some random kids looking at the machine with me. What? They were looking at this WiFi masterpiece with disdain! I had to correct their assumptions.
I was first drawn to two clay tablets. Which, if you knew me, is so me. It wasn’t the beautiful sarcophagus or the alien stone age tools or wonderous Jade axe, that drew me in, it was clay tablets with ancient writing. On the Early Writing Tablet, the text is administrative and talks of rations and beer. The second tablet was one of the Flood Tablets – the Epic of Gilgamesh from the library of Assyrian King Ashurbanipal. You cannot imagine my joy at seeing this item. I always thought I’d have to travel overseas to see one of the famous flood tablets and to see it right there, in a museum 10mins drive from my home was overwhelming.
Earlier this year I had written a blog post about ancient music so when I saw the Queen’s Lyre I knew exactly what it was. This Lyre was found in Queen Puabi tombs, excavated from the ancient city of Ur. The detail on the Lyre is amazing , you can clearly see images of people and the Royal Standard of Ur.
I have been collecting coins for many years. So I took great delight in seeing the variety of coins on display in this exhibition, from pieces of eight to the Alexander Coin. On the Alexander Coin, he has rams horns on his head, symboling his “claim that he was the son of the Egyptian god Ammon”. I find the ways coins were used to display a right to rule and power in ancient times quite fascinating.
There was one item that kept me captivated for over 40mins, and that is the Head of Augustus. Since studying ancient history, it has been the story of Augustus, his rise to power and transformation into a living god that has kept me in the Classical era. To see the emperor’s face in front of me was a dream come true. This head was decapitated by an invading army from Meroë (modern-day Sudan). Then buried under the temple steps as an insult to Augustus.
Another item I have read about over the years is the Lewis Chessmen. I first saw some of the pieces as part of the Vikings exhibition at the British Museum in 2014. At the time I had a two-year-old with me who wasn’t as impressed with the exhibition as his Mum, so I didn’t get to see as much of the chessmen as I would have liked. This time around I studied them intently!
Oh, and there is also a kids section within the exhibition. It has a reading corner, drawing, puzzle walls and an imaginative play area with dress ups.
I loved that this exhibition had items from all four corners of the world and included some modern-day innovations such as plastic and solar lighting. Though, going back to the ancient items, I wasn’t too sure about the Olduvai stone chopping tool as it just looked like a huge rock to me!
I’ll leave you with the rest of the images I took in the exhibition.
Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)