London Day 4: afternoon at the British Museum, evening at Piccadilly Circus

Richard the Lion-heart, king of England and Crusader whose statue stands outside of the British Parliament. Our ancestors were his cousins; we shared  the same grandfather, Henry 1 (Beauclerc).

British Parliament Building

After our exquisite tea at the Swan, we crossed the Thames, found Parliament, missed Westminster Abbey by one minute and headed up to the British Museum. I know that Great Britain colonized and “acquired” many treasures from around the world. I’m not going to open a discussion about the morality of these actions but will point out that the areas they were in prospered highly compared to the rest of the region; think Hong Cong, India, even the U.S.; another topic for another day.

The British Museum is a formidable structure housing many antiquities, including a few surprises we found inside. Walk with us and see history unfold through this amazing collection of artifacts.

Early Babylonian art; these statues are over 4,00 years old. Nimrod was a “mighty hunter” and great-grandson of Noah who decided that a very tall tower would be protective in case God once again decided to flood the earth. Apparently he was unaware that Noah had covenanted with the Lord who had promised not to send another great flood (2234 B.C.)  and set the rainbow in the sky as a symbol of the covenant.

According to scripture, it was during the construction of the Tower of Babel that God became angry because of the people’s rebelliousness and caused the “confusion of tongues” the multiplicity of languages we now have. Thanks Babylon.

Now comes the exhibit I have been waiting to see for years, the Elgin Marbles. Since I studied the history of design and interior design starting in 1983, I have been a fan of great art and architecture. Also known as the Parthenon Marbles, these sculptures were (legally) removed from the Parthenon in Greece and have been displayed in British Museum since 1817. Others are in the Louvre in Paris.

As we continued through the museum, I noticed a case containing a black stone. Sensing that it could be significant, closer inspection disclosed that it was THE ROSETTA STONE; the key to the unlocking of and the translation of ancient languages. The stone was discovered in Egypt in 1799 and has been displayed in the British Museum since 1802.

Other antiquities

The symbol of the bull was common in pagan cultures: from Encyclopedia Britannica, “According to myth, Mithra was born, bearing a torch and armed with a knife, beside a sacred stream and under a sacred tree, a child of the earth itself. He soon rode, and later killed, the life-giving cosmic bull, whose blood fertilizes all vegetation. Mithra’s slaying of the bull was a popular subject of Hellenic art and became the prototype for a bull-slaying ritual of fertility in the Mithraic cult.

As god of light, Mithra was associated with the Greek sun god, Helios, and the Roman Sol Invictus. He is often paired with Anahita, goddess of the fertilizing waters.” The cultures that worshipped a sun god would be called pagan or as described in scripture “the church of the devil.” Warfare, fertility rituals and human sacrifice were prominent in these cultures – think Aztecs, Mayans, Egyptians, Rome, Hinduism, etc.

The Brits are very punctual, the museum closed and it was everybody out! As we walked down the street we glanced up at this plaque on a nondescript building; the Caldecott Award is one of the highest honors in children’s literature. Ahh the creativity that is fostered by this intense amount of cultural enrichment.

We came across a treasure that is worth a stop if you are shopping in London. Liberty London is a five-story building filled with unique and wonderful shops with all kinds of fun souvenir possibilities.

This  window features a scene including Winnie-the-Pooh characters; a new movie to be released soon, Goodbye Christopher Robin, was heavily advertised in the train stations across London.

We headed downtown to see Trafalgar Square and have dinner at Piccadilly Circus. I’ll share a secret we learned; eat in pubs. The food is reasonably priced and very delicious. If you don’t drink, like we don’t, you’ll have to get used to the irritation and rudeness of the servers (I’m guessing their main profits come from the sale of alcohol) but for authentic local food, it can’t be matched.

Piccadilly Circus mural with 3-dimensional accents
Trafalgar Square

Goodbye London, I wish we had more time to discover your treasures, but we will return again.