British Museum visit as a dissertation inspiration

On the 12th of November the Society of Ancient Studies went on a trip to the British Museum in London. There were 18 of us, some of us first years – and this was a great opportunity for us all. Personally, I wanted to go to view the coffin and mummy portrait of Artemidorus. He is the main focus of my dissertation on social realism behind Roman Egyptian mummy portraits. When I found him in the museum I began to draw close ups of him in colour as most photographs don’t give enough detail. I also found other mummy portraits which I could use as comparison in my dissertation.

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Next, we met with Paul Roberts, one of the curators of the museum, in the afternoon. He gave us an in-depth tour of the museum, allowing us access to closed-off areas like the Assyrian and Alexander exhibits. After taking us through the Pantheon room he took us down into the basement where we entered into ‘The Stables’, where we first saw some Grecian statues. One that particularly stood out was a statue of a slaughtered sheep on an altar: this was deemed possibly offensive to visitors, hence its home in the basement. Then we entered another room which housed Etruscan coffins – the highlight was one which was highly sought after but then found to be a fake and so was taken off of display. Paul’s insight in the collections and artefacts made for an invaluable tour. Overall, the day was a great success and we learned a lot from Paul as well as from the museum objects themselves.

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Written by Cassidy Phillips (edited by Evelien Bracke)