Travel Through Two Million Years Of History At The British Museum

British Museum

The interior of the British Museum Source: Art Fund

For fans of human history there are few, if any, places on Earth more sacred than the British Museum. Located in London, it is the home of the greatest collections of human artifacts the world has to offer (housing approximately eight million artifacts). Together, they tell a comprehensive tale of humanity’s epic journeys, starting nearly two million years ago when primitive humans first appeared on this planet and continuing all the way to the present.

If you seek the full museum experience, you really have to travel to London, which is not something everyone is able to do. With that in mind, this is a modest alternative that looks at some of the greatest pieces housed in the British Museum.

Prev Next 1 of 21

Rosetta Stone

British Museum Rosetta

The most popular object in the British Museum is also one of the most controversial. Historically, the Rosetta Stone is one of the most important artifacts ever. It allowed us to understand Egyptian hieroglyphs for the first time because it features the same text in three different languages: hieroglyphs, Demotic script and ancient Greek. It’s been with the museum since 1802 but the Egyptian government is fighting quite hard to get Rosetta back. Source: Img Kid

Parthenon Marbles

British Museum Parthenon

Together, the Parthenon Marbles constitute an invaluable collection of over a dozen statues, panels and almost 250 feet of a frieze all taken from the Parthenon Temple and surrounding buildings. Like the Rosetta Stone, this display has been the subject of controversy as Greece wants its priceless 5th century BC artifacts back. They were taken in the 19th century under “iffy” circumstances. Source: Bellcurve Life

Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool

British Museum Olduvai

At first, this piece of stone doesn’t look all that impressive. However, it is the oldest object in the museum and was used as a chopping tool 1.8 million years ago. That is almost as long as humans have been around. Source: British Museum

Swimming Reindeer

British Museum Reindeer

Although we sometimes regard mammoths as ancient, prehistoric creatures, we forget that they actually died out only about 4,500 years ago. The Swimming Reindeer, the oldest piece of art in the museum, is a good reminder. Humans manipulated the mammoth tusk to form the Reindeer, showing that even in the Ice Age humans had an artistic side. Source: Wikipedia


British Museum Lamassu

Although this giant statue is by no means unique, it is still quite impressive. A Lamassu was a mythological Assyrian winged creature with the body of a lion and the head of a human. Their statues were placed at the entrances of throne rooms to act as guardians. The one at the British Museum guarded Ashurnasirpal II, King of Assyria during the 9th century. Source: Wordpress

Oxus Treasure

British Museum Oxus

There was a time when the Persian Empire might have been the wealthiest in the world, and this 5th century BC collection illustrates that point beautifully. The Oxus Treasure consists of 180 pieces made from gold and silver. The collection’s centerpiece is an incredibly intricate gold model of a horse-drawn chariot that has withstood the test of time. Source: The Independent

Rillaton Gold Cup

British Museum Cup

This Bronze Age gold cup was found by chance in 1837 when construction workers were taking stone from a burial cairn. Things took a turn for the mysterious when they found a stone-lined vault on one side of the mound. Inside the vault were the remains of one person, a bronze dagger, some items that didn’t survive, and this gold cup. Source: Tumblr

Ain Sakhri Lovers

British Museum Ain

This small, simple statue made from a pebble is thought to be the oldest representation of humans having sex. It is about 11,000 years old and, although primitive, it does clearly depict two humans wrapped around each other, one of them with their knees up and over the legs of the other one. Source: British Museum

Early Middle Eastern Writing Tablet

British Museum Tablet

We generally accept that writing was developed in Mesopotamia over 5,000 years ago, though there have been artifacts that contradict it. But if we accept it as true, then this cuneiform tablet contains one of the oldest writings in the world. And it delivers a very important message – a record of beer rations for workers. Source: IA State

Standard Of Ur

British Museum Ur

Founded sometime around 3,800 BC, the Sumerian city of Ur was one of the oldest cities in the world, which means that any artifact recovered from it would have tremendous historical value. Even so, this artifact is incredibly special due to its great condition (and even color) despite being around 4,500 years old. We’re not sure exactly what its purpose was, but it was found buried in a royal grave and depicts several scenes involving an unnamed king. Source: Virtual Light

Younger Memnon

British Museum Memnon

Another one of the museum’s showcase artifacts, the Younger Memnon is a giant statue depicting pharaoh Ramesses II aka Ramesses the Great, which was taken from the Ramesseum in Thebes. It is part of a pair of statues, the other one still in front of the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of the pharaoh. Source: Georgetown University

Croesus Gold Coin

British Museum Croesus

This is one of the oldest coins in the world, made over 2,500 years ago in Lydia, modern day Turkey. Despite its age, the coin still has remarkably detailed and clearly visible impressions of a lion and a bull. Lydia started making coins in the first place because of its fabulous wealth. In fact, King Croesus is still thought to be one of the richest people to ever live. Source: British Museum

Head Of Augustus

British Museum Augustus

Augustus Caesar, also known as Octavian, was the first Roman emperor. This incredibly-preserved head came from a statue in Egypt which was decapitated by an invading army and buried in the sand as an insult. In a weird twist of fate, it was this very act that ensured the head’s preservation. Source: WSI Mag

Sutton Hoo Helmet

British Museum Sutton

This helmet is part of a collection widely considered to be one of the most significant Anglo-Saxon discoveries of all time. It belonged to an important war chieftain (although we’re not sure who) and was buried alongside him with a large weapon arsenal and a 90-foot long ship. Source: BBC

Tang Tomb Figurines

British Museum Tang

Although they look almost brand new, these figurines are almost 1,300 years old and come from the tomb of a renowned Tang Dynasty Chinese general named Liu Tingxun. Each statue is over three feet high. Two of them depict lokapala, fierce guardians placed in temples to protect patrons from evil spirits. Interestingly, all of the human figures (and the lokapala) have white, uncolored heads, although we’re not sure why. Source: Pointurier

York Viking Hoard

British Museum York

If you think there’s no such thing as buried treasure, think again. This hoard was discovered in 2007 and it belonged to a 10th century Viking elite who plundered the treasure from all over the world. The collection contains jewelry, coins and silver cups from Russia, Scandinavia and Central Asia. Source: Wikipedia

Moai Statues

British Museum Maoi

You don’t have to travel to Easter Island to see one of their famous moai statues. One of them is hanging out at the British Museum. Source: British Museum

Tughra of Suleiman the Magnificent

British Museum Suleiman

A tughra is the official symbol that an Ottoman ruler would use as his signature. There was no Ottoman ruler greater than Suleiman the Magnificent, and this is a document bearing his tughra, thought to have a large looping shape inspired by the silhouette of a falcon. Source: Flickr

Akan Drum

British Museum Akan

This exotic drum was collected from Virginia in the early 1700s. However, it was actually made in the Akan region of Ghana, which means that it was most likely brought to America on a slave ship. This makes the drum one of the oldest African-American artifacts in existence. Source: BBC

Ming Dynasty Banknote

British Museum Ming

As the inventors of paper, it stands to reason that China was also one of the first to use paper money over 1,000 years ago. This 14th century banknote dates back to the Ming Dynasty, the first dynasty that attempted to completely replace coins with paper money. The note is worth 1000 bronze coins and also bears a warning that counterfeiting it is punishable by death. Source: British Museum

Like this gallery? Share it!

And if you liked this post, be sure to check out these popular posts:

The Natural History Museum In London
The Natural History Museum In London
Inside The Multi-Million Dollar Parisian Time Capsule
Inside The Multi-Million Dollar Parisian Time Capsule
The Lineage Of The British Royal Family
The Lineage Of The British Royal Family

In God’s Own Garden, Khasi Women Call The Shots

Khasi Girl Plays with Hoof

Source: Shout Weekly

Imagine a society where women, not men, hold most of the household power: property is passed from mother to her youngest daughter and husbands move in with their mother-in-laws after marriage. Now imagine that place existing in India, a country that’s frequently criticized for ongoing violence and discrimination against women.

Continue Reading

If At First You Don’t Succeed: Companies Whose Success Came After Failure

One of the few truths in life is that you’re not always going to get it right on your first try. This is especially true when your goal is to become an international, multibillion dollar company. Countless businesses have risen and crumbled simply because they offered the wrong product and failed to see it. Others, however, learn to adapt. These companies did just that, and are now some of the biggest corporations in the world.

The Gap

Changing Companies Gap Store

Source: Childrcloth

Today, The Gap is one of the largest apparel retailers in the world. In fact, for a while it was the largest and still has over 3,200 locations worldwide and employs 132,000 people. That’s a giant leap from the first Gap merchandise store, opened in 1969 in San Francisco by Donald and Doris Fisher. To be fair, the company didn’t need to do a complete 180 when it comes to its product lineup, but a little specialization. At first, The Gap sold an odd combination of Levi’s jeans and LP music records.

Continue Reading

10 Historical Quotes That We Always Get Wrong

History often gets condensed to bite-sized pieces. In fact, some of history’s most significant people and events are often remembered through a snappy one-liner. The problem is that, even when reduced to a quick little aphorism, we don’t always get the quotes quite right. After being repeated thousands of times for hundreds of years, that’s quite understandable, but you might be surprised to find out that some of the most famous quotes of all time are wrong.

“There’s a sucker born every minute” – P.T. Barnum

Historical Quotes Cardiff

The original Cardiff Giant Source: Roadside Wonders

Continue Reading

Close Pop-in
Like All That Is Interesting

Get The Most Fascinating Content On The Web In Your Facebook & Twitter Feeds