Teeming with glorious historical artefacts, the British Museum is a must-see when visiting the capital.
The 13.5-acre space is breathtaking, filled with ancient finds that you may have only ever read about in history books. With a collection of around eight million pieces, the British Museum houses some of the oldest objects from human history, art and culture, originating from all seven continents.
Whilst its impressive scale is one of the main attractions, it's also partly its downfall. There's just so much to look at that visitors frequently end up missing some of the best bits.
Luckily, London Walks has designed a tour of the place that will wind you around the exhibitions, giving you an overview of the most famous pieces.
One of the most renowned objects displayed at the British Museum is the Rosetta Stone. The granite-like rock was inscribed with three versions of a decree in 196 BC; one in Ancient Egyptian, one in hieroglyphic script and the bottom one in Ancient Greek. Although the skill to read hieroglyphs was lost by the fourth century AD, the Rosetta Stone served as a key tool in translating. Without it, it is likely that this pictorial cypher would still be a mystery.
The British Museum is also home to the Parthenon sculptures. A great marble, lavish structure, this temple was the centrepiece of Athens and originally erected as a dedication to the goddess Athena. The sculptures that can be observed at the museum were used for decorating the exterior of the building.
Meanwhile, the Easter Island Statue is one of the moai monolithic human figures that were carved by the people in Polynesia between 1250 and 1500. It is thought that these incredible creations are the living faces of ancestors.
Closer to home, the Mosaic of Christ was discovered underneath a field in Dorset. It is believed to be one of the earliest known representations of Jesus and probably laid on the floor of a villa. The artwork depicts a clean-shaven man, positioned in front of Greek lettering chi and rho - the first two letters of Christ's name.
In the Japanese Galleries, you can view impressive Samurai armour. This vibrant suit is composed of several items, each from different periods of Japanese culture. You may notice that the seventeenth century helmet and facemask has whiskers - this was to strike terror into the enemy.
You can also feast your eyes upon an Egyptian Sphinx. Found in Sudan, this magnificent object is a symbol of the power of Taharqo. He was one of the Kings of Kush that conquered and ruled the country for a period of time. What sets this apart from other sphinxes is its striking facial features - there's no doubt that the king is African. In fact, the Kushites were immensely proud of their heritage.
On top of this, you can see the Sutton Hoo treasure, Roman and Celtic gold, the Portland Vase, tiles, pottery, instruments, ivories and enamels.
The tour begins at Russell Square Tube Station and ends in the British Museum. It takes place every Monday at 2:30pm and every Wednesday and Saturday at 2:15pm. There's no need to book in advance, simply turn up on the correct day and time. The walk costs £10 and lasts approximately two hours.
Find out more about the British Museum Walk.
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