Well, today made up for it, starting with an ample breakfast, complete with lots of coffee. Then headed off to the
1) Dave has said how he was amazed at the sheer effrontery of a people who can just walk into another civilization and take stuff of the magnitude that the Brits took. I would emphatically concur (and add that the Germans were no better—as witness the amazing stuff in the
2) I was really impressed by the number of people who visited. Yes, it’s summer and it is the British Museum, but still—people really were interested in every part of the museum (okay, more interested in the mummies, but hey—dead people; what’s not to like?). People were clustered around the Rosetta Stone, around the Parthenon, around the various statues, through every room in the museum, and they were talking about history. How cool is that?
3) I don’t quite know what to make of what survives. Historians only have what’s left. What’s left is stuff that’s hard to destroy. So an ancient civilization that expresses itself through monuments of one kind or another will leave a record. Those that express themselves in other ways—maybe not. What remains thus determines what the past is to the present—but how does that relate to what the past was to those who lived it? This is hardly a new question; I think it shapes any beginning course in historiography. However, it was the question that kept coming back as I went through the museum.
4) The museum has free tours through the day. I was in the right place and time for one on
About 1 PM, the museum became unbearably crowded and it was time to meet Monique, a friend from Ulpan, who is a rabbinic student at
Monique and I finished the day at a pub with beer, excellent Thai food, and conversation. She’s heading off to spend the night with relatives. I’m going to post this and head for bed. What a day! And tomorrow—back home again.