London Trip 2009: Part 4

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The first and only stop today was The British Museum (site). And honestly, one day was not enough to cover even half of this museum as the museum has over 7 million items in its collection.

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The entrance of The British Museum.

The museum came into existence because of Sir Hans Sloane who started the collection. He also brought drinking chocolate back to England.

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Inside the Great Court. The glass ceiling lets light through so not much artificial lighting is required during the day.

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Totem pole at the Great Court.

There was an exhibition on Moctezuma, the Aztech Ruler. Unfortunately photos weren’t allowed in that exhibit. Moctezuma was the last ruler of the Aztech. He was kidnapped by the Spanish army when they came and there was nothing much they can do since the Spanish army had guns while they were still using spears and shields. You can read more about his death and the Spanish conquest here.

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Rosetta stone.

This is a very important piece of stone. With this stone, we managed to unlock the history of an entire civilization. Before this, no one knew how to read Egyptian hieroglyphic writing. But since the Rosetta stone contains a single passage written in 3 languages, a translation could be made by comparing them.

Builders in ancient times like to decorate their buildings with carvings and drawings. Take the Parthenon for example. It was decorated externally with frieze and metopes. And inside are stone sculptures, some of which are now on display at the British Museum.

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Part of a sculpture from the Parthenon.

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Carvings became more and more lifelike and realistic.

Art progressed from very basic and simple representative drawings to pictures or carvings that gave a sense of depth, perception and motion. These subtle changes can be seen as a civilization became more advanced and modern. This progression is what makes us special. We are constantly improving ourselves towards perfection. If we didn’t progress throughout the ages, you’ll still be reading this on a clay tablet.

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I wanted to give them RM5 as a sample because our RM5 incorporates a plastic transparent window as a security feature. But I kept all my Ringgit at home.

An exhibition on Money takes us through the history of money, how people progressed from using shells to plastic as form of payment. Machines that print or mint coins are also on display. And also security features of money. People have gone the extra mile to ensure that money cannot be easily reproduced.

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This is one side of the mold for a 1 pound coin.

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That’s HALF A TRILLION (500 BILLION) Zimbabwean dollars. And guess how much it’s worth? 0.5 Malaysian sen. HALF a sen. You need a suitcase of these to buy bread.

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Internal workings of a mechanical clock.

Right beside the money exhibition was an exhibition on clocks. Mechanical clocks of all sizes and construction were on display. And some of them were even moving so you can see all the internal workings of the clock! There are a few really ingenious designs. But of course, none came close to having the accuracy nor simplicity of the modern quartz controlled clocks that we have today.

This is a very interesting clock. It utilizes the duration required for the ball to travel from one end to the other to keep time:

I also skimmed through the Mummy gallery. Not exactly a big fan of mummies, but it’s interesting to see how they preserve the bodies. The brain comes out through the nose by the way.

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A Mummy.

Interestingly, they mummify cats too.

Next: The National Gallery. London Trip 2009: Part 5 Continue reading