Still Monday. Total amount of sleep in last 24 hours: about 240 minutes. Goal: stay up until 11 so I can readjust my schedule and not have jet lag. Destination: British Museum.
Made it t 40 minutes before closing. They warned me it was closing soon and I said that was okay, I just wanted to see the Elgins before they were sent back. Ha ha! Just kidding, no, you didn't miss anything on the news.
The Elgins were closed for cleaning. I guess they have to do that every 500 years. So you go look at the little things you'd otherwise walk past.
The plaque says:
Marble tombstone of a woman who died leaving her child to the care of a nurse. Made in Athens about 425-400 BC
That seems rather specific date.
I will never not be creeped out by these guys.
The explanation on the wall says the local ruler had given permission for the British to "take whatever stones they wished." Or words to that effect. The British had a rather expansive definition of "stones."
This was all painted, of course:
Assyrian, about 865-860 BC From Nimrud, North-West Palace.
King Ashurnasirpal is enthroned between attendants, and the group is flanked by a pair of winged protective spirits. The workmanship of these panels, from the head of what was possibly a banquet hall, is exceptionally fine.
There's lots of text to remind you of the glories and wisdom and power of ol' Ash. The room is full of accounts of his conquests. It's always the war and stabbing and gouging with these guys.
Attack on an enemy town by a river
Assyrian, about 865-860 BC
From Nimrud, North West Palace, Room B, panel 4 (bottom)
While some Assyrians break through the lower walls, the main siege-engine is itself under attack. The enemy have caught its battering lever on a chain, but two Assyrians are holding it in position with hooks. Some torches are thrown, but water is piped from inside the engine to quench the flames. The scene is continued to left and right.
And back and forward thorugh the ages. Anyway, hurrah for the victories! They would be victorious forever! Or not:
King Ashurnasirpal is generally remembered as the last great king of Assyria. Inheriting the throne as the favored heir of his father Esarhaddon, Ashurbanipal's 38-year reign was among the longest of any Assyrian king. Though sometimes regarded as the apogee of ancient Assyria, his reign also marked the last time Assyrian armies waged war throughout the ancient Near East and the beginning of the end of Assyrian dominion over the region.
While the Elgins were off the menu, there's lots of additional Greek work, battered and chipped by the Hammers of Time, he said, pretentiously. This fellow was grouped with his wife, who was in worse shape. His expression seems to be "well, that's it for me, I suppose."
Ten minutes left.
I had to swing by the Enlightenment Room and see the old books no one has read in centuries.
This fellow always seems a bit appalled he's stuck here goggling at everyone, or about to blubber:
Richard Payne Knight (11 February 1751 – 23 April 1824) of Downton Castle in Herefordshire, and of 5 Soho Square, London, England, was a classical scholar, connoisseur, archaeologist and numismatist best known for his theories of picturesque beauty and for his interest in ancient phallic imagery.
Knight died unmarried on 23 April 1824
He had some other interesting theories on aesthetics and perception. The sculptor, John Bacon the Younger, was very much a man of his era, in terms of characteristic John Bull iconography.
The gentlemen by the door, looking past us as we leave.
And that was that. When I got out it was time for another shot of coffee, so I hit the Pret and just looked out the window for a while.
Then I pretended I still had some energy, and began the walk back to the Baker street station.