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.
The deciphering of ancient scripts changed forever the way Europeans were able to imagine the story of humanity, destroying centuries of received authority about the past with repercussions as important for our understanding of time and history as the geological studies of the same period.
It is a standing source of astonishment and amusement to visitors that the British Museum has so few British things in it: that it is a museum about the world as seen from Britain rather than a history focused on these islands.
The Louvre stopped buying paintings in 1848, and neither the Metropolitan nor the Hermitage acquire contemporary material.
The spread of Viking bling is a good indication of the spread of its culture.
Hardest of all for Europeans to negotiate are traditional African religions, whose transactions with unseen powers are central to the running of life in many areas, the main weapon in the struggle against the forces of evil.
A collection that embraces the whole world allows you to consider the whole world. That is what an institution such as the British Museum is for.