The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology

May 29, 2012

The Petrie Museum of Egyptian Archaeology is a short walk north of the British Museum on the campus of University College London. William Matthew Flinders Petrie (1853 – 1942) was an Egyptian archaeologist who excavated at Tanis, Gizah, Naucratis, El Amarna, El-Lahun, Meidum, Naqada, Abydos, and Thebes to list only a few of the 50+ sites at which he worked [Margaret S. Drower, Flinders Petrie: A Life in Archaeology (1995) page xxi]. Drower writes of him: “He found archaeology in Egypt a treasure hunt; he left it a science” [page xxii]. His museum houses an amazing array of artifacts but, it must be said, is in desperate need of more space. Definitely worth a visit though.

 

Entrance

Fragment of a Middle Kingdom stela

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British Museum VI: Roman Antiquities

May 27, 2012

This is the last of the British Museum posts which, of course, barely scratch the surface…

Marcus Aurelius

Fighting a sea-monster (2nd century BCE, Chiusi)

Lid of sea-monster urn

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Some comments on David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years

May 25, 2012

There’s a lot to like about David Graeber’s Debt: The First 5,000 Years (2011) which is essentially a history of the relationship between money and morality from the dawn of civilization in Sumeria up to the present day. However, in a work that spans so many centuries, regions, and academic disciplines (anthropology, economics, history), some minor errors are bound to crop up. I offer the following comments on Graeber’s references to ancient history in the hopes that they might be fixed in a future edition:

Territories that had never been under Roman rule – in Ireland, Wales… [Graeber, page 61]

The Romans did conquer Wales.

Nehemiah… received permission to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem that had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar more than two centuries earlier… [Graeber, page 81]

This implies that the Temple had been in ruins for two hundred years but rebuilding began in the sixth century with help from the Persian king Cyrus [see the beginning of the book of Ezra]. Perhaps Graeber meant to refer to the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls?

[Annikeris] A Libyan philosopher of the Epicurean school… [ransomed Plato] [Graeber, page 197].

Epicurus lived after Plato so this Annikeris cannot be an Epicurean philosopher.

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British Museum V: Parthenon friezes

May 23, 2012

East Frieze V, 34-35

Iris (West Pediment N)

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British Museum IV: The Nereid Monument

May 17, 2012

The Nereid Monument, perhaps built by the Lycian dynast Arbinas, is a late 5th century BCE Greek-style tomb from Xanthos (on the south coast of Turkey). Now it’s in the British Museum.

The Monument

Detail of the large podium frieze

Another detail from the large podium frieze

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British Museum III: Mausolos’s Mausoleum

May 11, 2012

Parts of Bodrum are quite lovely, particularly the harbor:

The view from breakfast, last summer…

But the site of the famous Mausoleum of Halikarnassos is not one of them:

Site of the Mausoleum

But some of the more spectacular parts of the Mausoleum now reside in the British Museum:

Greeks fighting with Amazons

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British Museum II: Assyrian Antiquities

May 10, 2012

From the ninth to the seventh century BCE, the Assyrians ruled an empire which eventually stretched from Mesopotamia to Egypt. While they may have been universally reviled for their brutal tactics, they at least left behind some beautiful, if often rather martial, reliefs:

Tukulti-apil-esharra AKA Tiglath-pileser III ruled the Assyrians from 745 to 727 BCE. Among his many achievements was the conquest of Babylon.

Depiction of a siege in Babylonia from Nimrud, ca. 728 BCE.

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