Objects let you tell a narrative that encompasses everybody. Texts don’t.
The British Museum was founded with a civic purpose: to allow the citizen, through reasoned inquiry and comparison, to resist the certainties that endanger free society and are still among the greatest threats to our liberty.
Thanks to the unprecedented reach of British navigation, London in the early 18th century was not just the emporium of the world, it was the first place in which it was possible to assemble artifacts from around the world and allow people to study them.
As the Persians wrote very little about how they ran their affairs, the Greek propaganda of the 5th century B.C. has for centuries gone virtually unchallenged – indeed, for Edward Said, it was the beginning of Europe’s long habit of misunderstanding and ill-informed contempt of the Middle East.
For the Greeks, there was no single canonical version of creation, but a number of overlapping stories.
There’s the constant concern with what happens to you when you die. Every society thinks about that and makes things to deal with that.
While there are few records of Viking women participating in battle, they certainly held positions of high status in society as human sorceresses known as ‘volvas.’
The things we make have one supreme quality – they live longer than us. We perish, they survive; we have one life, they have many lives, and in each life they can mean different things. Which means that, while we all have one biography, they have many.
There is not much we can say with absolute confidence about the early church, but we can be fairly sure that the first Christians would not have dreamed of making a likeness of Jesus.
Creation stories, so central in the religions of the Middle East, play a surprisingly marginal part in Greek myth. The Greeks had nothing to set alongside the resounding ‘In the beginning’ in the book of Genesis, where one eternal God creates the universe out of nothing.