Thursday, July 8, 2010

British Museum too

After the tour of the British Museum Archives, we were let loose among the collections. After some debate a few of us, myself, Traci, Andrew, Gillian and Daniel, decided to wander together. A schedule was set and off we went--first to view the Rosetta stone, and then to the Elgin marbles--and I must remember that proper pronunciation (yes, Andrew) is el-JIN marbles. The room had been rearranged since I last visited but as always it is the bas-relief sculptures rather than the full life statues that draw my attention. This time it was a set of battles with centaurs that I spent the most time examining--the light and shading, the workmanship, the detail--all skills that are pretty much lost now.

The other exhibit that I enjoyed was the gold and treasure. We wanted to see the Staffordshire hoard (which was in conservation) so we looked at the Sutton Hoo treasure and the rooms leading too it. These pictures should speak for themselves:

Gold G-d why can I never remember this word???

The laws governing the British Museum link directly to the British Treasure Act--a fascinating bit of law I learned while in Folkestone with Andy and Lynn where I watched a TV program about the Staffordshire Hoard. The formal Act can be found at The Office of Public Sector Information and a nice explanation is found in a 2009 Telegraph article on the hoard. The Treasure Act, passed in 1996, regulates all archaeological finds in the UK--and was passed to deal with the questions of who owns it--the Crown if it is large enough and composed of the right materials--and who gains rewards--the finder as well as the owner of the property upon which it was found. The regulations can be quite detailed but they are set up to assure, hopefully, that discoverers contact their local coroner quickly after discovery to allow the professionals to oversee the site and preserve historical and archaeological significance of the site as well as the materials that are found within the dig. The number of hoards/treasures located in the UK is amazing--as is the variety--gold from Vikings, Roman coins, weapons, stolen or looted goods, and most end up at a museum in the UK--and the best and the most significant usually at the British Museum.

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