Our fascination with mummies never gets old. Now the British Museum is using the latest technology to unwrap their ancient mysteries.
Scientists at the museum have used CT scans and sophisticated imaging software to go beneath the bandages, revealing skin, bones, preserved internal organs—and in one case a brain-scooping rod left inside a skull by embalmers.
The findings go on display next month in an exhibition that sets eight of the museum’s mummies alongside detailed three-dimensional images of their insides and 3-D printed replicas of some of the items buried with them.
Bio-archaeologist Daniel Antoine said Wednesday that the goal is to present these long-dead individuals “not as mummies but as human beings.” Read more.
A treasure hoard unearthed on Tyneside over 150 years ago has returned to the region.
The gold and silver items, dating from the Second Century, were unearthed near the former mining village of Backworth in North Tyneside in 1811.
They were acquired by the British Museum in 1850 and have remained there since as part of its Roman Britain displays.
But now the treasure is back near where it was found as it was unpacked to go on show at Segedunum fort in Wallsend. Read more.
The star exhibit initially promised for the British Museum’s “Ice Age Art” show will not be coming—but for a good reason. New pieces of Ulm’s Lion Man sculpture have been discovered and it has been found to be much older than originally thought, at around 40,000 years. This makes it the world’s earliest figurative sculpture. At the London exhibition, which opens on 7 February, a replica from the Ulm Museum will instead go on display.
The story of the discovery of the Lion Man goes back to August 1939, when fragments of mammoth ivory were excavated at the back of the Stadel Cave in the Swabian Alps, south-west Germany. This was a few days before the outbreak of the Second World War. When it was eventually reassembled in 1970, it was regarded as a standing bear or big cat, but with human characteristics. Read more.
Twenty-six thousand years ago in the Czech Republic, one of our ice-age ancestors selected a hunk of mammoth ivory and carved this enigmatic portrait of a woman - the oldest ever found. By looking at artefacts like this as works of art, rather than archaeological finds, a new exhibition at the British Museum in London hopes to help us see them and their creators with new eyes.
Human ancestors date back millions of years, but the earliest evidence of the human mind producing symbolic imagery as a form of creative expression cannot be much older than 100,000 years. That evidence comes from Africa: this exhibition explores the later dawning of representative art in Europe and shows that even before the remarkable paintings of the Lascaux cave, France, humans were able to make work as subtle as the expressive face above. Read more.
Ice Age Art: Arrival of the modern mind runs at the British Museum, London, from 7 February to 26 May
A scientist at the British Museum is using tree samples from two national collections to find out what our ancestors used to bind and waterproof baskets, ships and riggings.
More than 12kg of pine wood from Bedgebury Pinetum in Kent and up to 1kg of birch bark from Stone Lane Gardens, in Devon, were collected for the study.
The 14 species have been heated to create a black sticky tar-like substance, which was used as a glue and waterproofing agent.
Scientist, Dr Pauline Burger, who is behind the project, said the tar was used during the Iron Age.
She hopes to create a database of characteristics for each tar, which she can then compare with the tars used by our ancestors on the objects at the British Museum. Read more.
The British Museum denied that it was considering returning fragments of sculptures from the Parthenon to Greece, as suggested by the director of the Acropolis Museum in Athens a day earlier.
The British Museum said it was “open to discussions regarding a short-term loan of some of the objects but not a permanent return.
“The trustees of the British Museum will consider — subject to the usual considerations of condition and fitness to travel — any request for any part of the collection to be borrowed and then returned,” it said. Read more.
Hundreds of archaeological treasures looted from Afghanistan were returned to the war-torn country’s National Museum on Sunday after being recovered with the help of the British Museum.
Many of the 843 artefacts were seized as they were being smuggled into Britain after some 70 per cent of the museum’s contents were stolen during Afghanistan’s civil war in the early 1990s.
Others were identified on the black market and acquired on behalf of the museum by private donors.
The returned treasures include “exquisite examples” of the Begram Ivories, a series of decorative inlays dating back to the first century AD, the British Museum said ahead of Sunday’s handover ceremony.
Among others items are a statue of Buddha from the second or third century, Bactrian Bronze Age items, Greco-Bactrian and medieval Islamic coins. Read more.
One of the oldest known copies of the Koran went on show at the British Museum today ahead of a new exhibition.
The Koran, lent by the British Library, will be part of the exhibition, Hajj: Journey To The Heart Of Islam, the first major collection dedicated to the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
Mecca is viewed as a spiritual centre as the place where Prophet Mohammed received the first revelations in the early 7th century.
The copy of the Koran is thought to date from the 8th century BC, according to the British Museum.
The Koran states it is a sacred duty for Muslims who are able to make the journey to Mecca to do so at least once in their lives.
The collection will examine the significance of the Hajj as one of the Five Pillars of Islam, exploring its importance for Muslims and looking at how it has evolved. Read more.