Thursday, March 26

Sites Visited: British Museum: Assyrian collection and storerooms for Egyptian artifacts

Where did we stay tonight?: London

Leaders:  Alex Maceda and Jerry Guo

Classics FSP 2009 By the Numbers:

3 : Required Number of Pounds Spent to Receive Free Internet at Costa Cafe

28 : Suffix of “belkin,” our Free Internet Provider

6.2 : Average number of hours per night slept by an FSP student

7 : Essays Written

256 : Pages read thus far for homework

1988 CE : Graduating Year of PCC from Dartmouth

488 BCE : Greek Statesmen Pericles Turns 12

26 : Hours Spent at the British Museum

5 : Time We Leave (AM) for the Airport Tomorrow

Our last day in London was marked by a series of fantastic, dare we say colossal, events that continue to boggle the mind. It was a rough morning for everyone (the consequences of having three assignments due AND getting coffee by 10am), but the group made it over to the British Museum without any problems. Today was our last day at the BM, and we were all very excited for what lay in store.

Dr. Paul Collins of the Museum’s Middle Eastern Department delivered a thrilling lecture on Assyrian art, with a particular emphasis on relief sculpture displayed in palatial complexes. The Jerry Rutter of the art of the Near East, Dr. Collins is a vast repository of knowledge, and the fact that he could sight- read cuneiform was both very impressive and also terrifying. Despite the Museum’s mind-boggling collection, they seemed to be missing a few panels from Northwest Palace of Nimrud… funny how the ones on display looked a lot like those in Dartmouth’s Hood Museum…

After his talk, Professor Christesen led the group in an engaging discussion on how our knowledge about the Parthenon frieze colors our reading of the Assyrian reliefs. Some students noted the multiple ground lines, depictions of specific historical scenes and figures, and strikingly realistic depictions of dying lions as key aspects of Assyrian art not often, or ever, seen in Greek art.

After a lunch break, Dr. Marcel Maree of the Department of Ancient Egypt and Sudan led the group in what can only be called a thrilling expedition through under-belly of the British Museum to a number of departmental storerooms. After being shocked to hear the museum only displays 4% of their collection at any given time, we were excited to see what was in store, no pun intended.

We saw stone sarcophagi covers and statues of lion-goddesses in the stone storeroom, papyrus scrolls of excerpts from the Book of the Dead in the papyrus storeroom, and got up close and maybe too personal with a mummified monkey in the organic storeroom. It was remarkable to be able to see the artifacts not behind glass cases, at one point being inches away from a mummy Maree so accurately described as “just a package” blocking our view of a New Kingdom wall painting panel. What was also striking was the apparent Egyptian proclivity for hedgehogs, in a variety of forms, prompting several members of the group to declare honors thesis topics about cuteness in ancient art.

We were scheduled to write a long assignment after the Egyptian tour, but Professor Christesen surprised us all (and probably himself as well) by cancelling the assignment and treating the entire group to ice cream. We made a brief tour of the galleries picking out our favorite things, such as hieroglyphics depicting what can only be described as an Ancient Egyptian party and the enigmatic Portland vase of the 1st century BCE/CE. After our final brief discussion of Egyptian art, we went out for a group dinner for our last night in London. The night brought last minute packing and a bit of sleep before our 5 AM wake-up call—see you in Athens!

Day 6 Intro:

Assyrian reliefs, word on the street:

Happiness is a paper evaded:

Day 6 Photo Gallery:

A misleadingly bright English morning seen through the windowed ceiling of the British Museum.

A misleadingly bright English morning seen through the windowed ceiling of the British Museum.

The British Museum lacks some Assyrian reliefs to complete their set. Maybe they could ask the Hood...

The British Museum lacks some Assyrian reliefs to complete their set. Maybe they could ask the Hood...

An apotropaic lamassu dwarfs our little FSP-ers, accompanied by Dr. Paul Collins.

An apotropaic lamassu dwarfs our little FSP-ers, accompanied by Dr. Paul Collins.

Dr. Collins explains the iconography of Assyrian reliefs.

Dr. Collins explains the iconography of Assyrian reliefs.

Dallis, Charles, Ben et al listen to Dr. Collins in the Assyrian galleries.

Dallis, Charles, Ben et al listen to Dr. Collins in the Assyrian galleries.

The perpetually doomed Assyrian lion, victim of the great hunting skills of the king.

The perpetually doomed Assyrian lion, victim of the great hunting skills of the king.

Professor Christesen and Ben catch up before the rest of the group arrives at the Meeting Point for their tour of the Egyptian store rooms.

Professor Christesen and Ben catch up before the rest of the group arrives at the Meeting Point for their tour of the Egyptian store rooms.

Joe signs in before we head into the Egyptian storerooms.

Joe signs in before we head into the Egyptian store rooms.

A ban on cameras in the store rooms forces students to get creative -  here, a drawing of Isis and a diagram of the organization of mummified mammals in the organic store room.

A ban on cameras in the store rooms forces students to get creative - here, a drawing of Isis and a diagram of the organization of mummified mammals in the organic store room.

Prof. Christesen pulls the old Ice Cream/Quiz switcheroo.  Approval ratings soar.

Prof. Christesen pulls the old Ice Cream/Quiz switcheroo. Approval ratings soar.

Charlie gets an Ancient Egyptian fist-pound from the colossal red granite arm of Ramses II. Solid.

Charlie gets an Egyptian fist-pound from the colossal red granite arm of Ramses II. Solid.

An ecstatic FSP group poses with their Fearless Leader.

An ecstatic FSP group poses with their Fearless Leader.

The FSP gets authentic at a local pub, fish and chips all around!

The FSP gets authentic at a local pub, fish and chips all around!

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