Earlier this term a small number of Classics students were given the amazing opportunity to go the British Museum. After two train journeys and a short walk, we had arrived at this spectacular building. It was the first time many of us had been there and we were blown away by the architecture and sheer scale of the museum. Upon entering the museum, we were met by Dr Sam Moorhead, who is the expert for Iron Age and Roman coins at the museum, and we moved on with the tour straight away.
We began the tour looking at sculptures and how they developed over time, for example, in early Greece statues were very straight and out of proportion, mimicking the ancient Egyptians whereas in Athens’ prime the statues were incredibly accurate and captured movement. I found this extremely interesting especially because I’m also an art student so the crossover helped in both subjects. Also it was fascinating to see how the Greeks developed their artist skills in such a short space of time and how they became so refined in sculpture that many cultures have copied it since. Dr Moorhead then moved on and brought our attention to a scale model of the Parthenon- the temple dedicated to Athena on top of the Acropolis. He gave us many remarkable facts about the building including who built it and how. Running around the walls of this particular room was a replica of the frieze that would have gone around the temple and it showed horses and their riders getting ready. We found out what they were preparing for in the next room, it seemed they were parading but in a solemn sense. This frieze was the actual one that was found in Greece so it was spectacular how it had survived so long. We were also shown the sculptures that could be found in the pediment by Dr Moorhead and we now understood that Greeks were meticulous in their architecture even sculpting backs off statues that no one sees but also in their respect for the gods because everything seemed to revolve around them.
We then turned our attention to the Roman British aspect of the trip. Throughout this part we were encouraged to translate inscriptions that would have been written when the Romans had invaded, some of which included gravestones. I found it interesting that the Romans were multi-cultural and people from all over considered themselves Roman. One of the most interesting pieces of writing was that of a school student copying out literature and his teacher marking it. It was fascinating to see that students of the Roman times had to copy out literature and it was marked, as well as the fact it had survived this long and was still legible.
Overall this was an amazing trip and I learnt so much that could help me with my studies into classical civilisation. We collectively agreed that Dr Moorhead genuinely knew what he was talking about and was excited about it, which rubbed off on us. It was a great and educational day out. Thank you to Ms Nongbri for organizing such a wonderful day for us.
By Emma Jane Lewington