Wonders of the Ancient World

There’s no way to see everything in the British Museum in one day.  But on a recent trip to London I got to wander through some of the displays, marveling at art and artifacts collected from around the world. I always gravitate to the antiquities, and I usually start with the Rosetta Stone. When I first saw it, it was sitting right out in the open. Now it’s protected by a glass case.

This object, discovered by a French soldier in the town of Rashid (Rosetta) in 1799, was carved in black granodiorite during the Hellenistic period. It sets forth a decree issued in Memphis, Egypt, in 196 BC and is written in three languages: ancient Greek, Demotic script, and Egyptian hieroglyphics. Each text says approximately the same thing, and by comparing them, scholars were finally able to translate hieroglyphics—although it took them more than twenty years to do it.

Next, I usually wander over to the mummies in their elaborate sarcophaguses. But the ancient Egyptians didn’t just embalm people. They also preserved cats for a trip into the afterlife.

I also have a fondness for Roman mosaics, which are displayed mainly on stairwell walls, although in ancient Roman civilization they were used on the floor, not on walls.

By studying a list of “must see” exhibits, I also found some treasures that I had not seen before. Here’s a beautiful Aztec two-headed snake.

And did you ever wonder where Wedgwood got the idea for his Jasperware?  He saw this Portland Vase, produced in Italy—probably in the Etruscan period, and determined to create something similar. It’s jaw-droppingly beautiful. And even more amazing, it was painstakingly put back together after a crazed museum patron smashed it in the early 1800’s.

I’m home now, but I can’t stop myself from thinking—when can I get back there and wander through some of those fabulous galleries?

Do you like to travel?  What are some of your favorite places to visit?

Rebecca York’s latest Decorah Security novella is Hollow Moon, about a werewolf who almost loses his mind when he gets caught sniffing out a drug lab in the Maryland wilds.

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About Rebecca York

NY Times & USA Today best-seller, Rebecca York, is the author of over 150 books. She has written paranormal romantic thrillers for Berkley and romantic thrillers for Harlequin Intrigue. Her romantic-suspense series, Decorah Security, is set at a detective agency where agents have paranormal powers or work paranormal cases. She also writes an Off-World series where each story is a science fiction romance taking place on a distant planet in the far future.  She also writes the Unbound series for Changeling Press.  View website

6 Replies to “Wonders of the Ancient World”

  1. Rebecca –
    Thanks for the travelogue. I have never seen the Rosetta Stone – I’ve never even seen an image of it. I always pictured it as a black obelisk. Who knew? As soon as I finish this post, I’m heading t Wikipedia to read more about the Rosetta Stone. I was fascinated by your comments about how that beautiful Etruscan pottery influenced Wedgewood. And have you looked at that picture carefully? To my eyes, it looked as if you were actually crafting the pottery. And I loved the two-headed snake.

    I won’t be getting to the British Museum any time soon…but you can be my travel emissary any time.

  2. Until I graduated college, the only place I’d visited was New York City and stayed with relatives. My first trip to Europe when I was 21 was amazing. I visited 10 countries in a month on $900., airfare included. It was a different world then — I didn’t even have a credit card — and I fell in love with traveling. I did Europe 7 times in 6 years. And then Mexico. And South America. And back to Europe and Mexico a few more times. The most exotic place I’ve been to was India with you and Norman. I don’t know that I had a favorite place in all that travel. While I like museums, they wouldn’t be high on my list. Exploring ruins and sailing in the Caribbean and looking for tigers on a preserve were more my thing. I’m a city person who loves the outdoors.

    • When I was a kid, we went to Ocean City a few times in the summer. And my G’ma and her sisters had a summer house on a river near Annapolis. We’d frequently go down there. When I was twelve, we drove across the country to Yellowstone. Then when I was engaged to Norman, we flew from DC to his sister’s wedding in Santa Barbara. After we were married, we’d take long driving trips across the country to see his family. We’d take different routes and see different stuff. Once we drove across the Trans Canada Highway–from Duluth, where we stopped to see friends. My first trip to Europe was to London and then on to visit Nancy whose husband was doing a tour in Weisbaden, Germany.

  3. I’ve only been to Rome and Florence but spent as much time as I could in museums and historical sites there. I will never forget wandering in the door and seeing David at the opposite end of the massive room. It never occurred to me that he was that big!! I was mesmerized by him. What absolute beauty! Even eclipsed the Sistine Chapel, at least for me. I doubt I’ll get back to Europe but I treasure the memories of that one trip.
    Enjoy your travels, Ruth. And thanks for sharing them with us.

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