Guess what? When you live in London your Egyptian vacation doesn’t have to end when you come home! Those acquisitive Brits brought a lot of the good stuff home during their colonial heyday.
To be honest, it felt a bit strange to see the statues, sarcophagi, and mummies in the British Museum. I felt like I was looking at them with new eyes.
On the one hand, I appreciated them so much more, having just come from the place where they were created. Despite the cloudy wetness outside the museum, I could imagine them baking in the desert sun in the middle of some awesome temple or colorful tomb — and to be honest, they felt somewhat diminished for being here, so out of context, and not there.
On the other hand, the British Museum does a really nice job. The detailed exhibitions drew my attention to things that I would not have noticed amongst the splendor of some ruined temple; and the detailed explanations offered more nuance than (or at least competing interpretations to) those offered by some of our guides (not to mention the Egyptian Museum, which offers literally nothing by way of explanation).
One of the coolest items they had was a page on which Jean-Francois Champollion first began matching hieroglyphs to the Greek alphabet using the Rosetta Stone. Imagine the excitement of cracking that code and all the history it has unlocked!
Not surprisingly, I was far from alone in appreciating the museum’s Egyptian collection. The place was packed! Probably a perfect storm of spring break tourists and bad weather . . . I’ll have to go back again another day when I can spend more time taking it all in.