Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The British Museum and the Monument to the Great Fire of London

We are always up to exploring museums, monuments, and galleries. The British Museum is the world's oldest public museum, having opened in 1753.
Somehow I didn't know that the Rosetta Stone is housed at the British Museum. How did I not know that? So of course I HAD to go see it. In a teensy, tiny little nutshell: the Rosetta Stone dates back to @ 196 BC when a decree was issued on behalf of Egyptian King Ptolemy V. This decree was inscribed on a granite stone. It's importance stems from the fact that the decree was inscribed in three different languages, one of which was Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. Collectively, these three inscriptions provide invaluable clues to our understanding of Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs. I love stuff like this! I really should have been an archaeologist. Except for the facts that I hate hot deserts, am not a fan of dirt, and abhor bugs, I would have been an awesome Indiana Jones Burns. Oh, I also hate running, especially from bad guys and weapons. Not that I've ever done that, but I hate it just the same. I could also have been a real, live anthropologist, just like the fake Dr. Temperance on Bones. But without all of the creepy stuff. Ha ha. Anyway, if you want to read more about the Rosetta Stone, click here. It's history is fascinating.
 Photographs were permitted in this museum, but it was crowded and dark so I didn't take many. I do like this one of Miss Emma mimicking an ancient statue.
I really liked the room full of clocks. These two were my faves. The first one is from Prague and dates back to the 16th century. 
We decided to check out the Monument (it's nickname), located near the eastern end of the London Bridge. This monument, completed in 1677, commemorates the Great Fire of London which burned in 1666. The Monument is located near the place where the fire ignited. The path of destruction left by the fire was extensive and devastating to the city. The Monument has an interesting history, which you can read here. Here's the most fascinating tidbit, as least to me: "Wren and Hooke built the monument to double-up as a scientific experiment. It has a central shaft meant for use as a zenith telescope and for use in gravity and pendulum experiments that connects to an underground laboratory for observers to work (accessible from the present-day ticket booth). Vibrations from heavy traffic on Fish Hill rendered the experimental conditions unsuitable. A hinged lid in the urn covers the opening to the shaft. The steps in the shaft are all six inches high, allowing them to be used for barometric pressure studies... During the 2007-2009 refurbishment, a 350-degree panoramic camera was installed on top of the Monument. Updated every minute and running 23 hours a day, it provides a record of weather, building and ground activity in the City." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monument_to_the_Great_Fire_of_London) Apparently it is the tallest monument in the world. 
Today, it is mainly used as an historical landmark and is open to the public. Well, it's open to you if you're willing to climb it's 311 6-inch tall steps to its observation deck. We're talking a tight, spiral staircase with traffic in both directions. So not good for some people's knees, nor for claustrophobics. See?
So I passed the camera to Rick, watched as my family disappeared into the Monument, then promptly searched for a nearby Starbucks. I also discovered that the staircase railing was added in the mid-1800s after somebody committed suicide by stepping over the side. Nice little factoid, huh? How in the world did they ever get anyone to climb that staircase before the rail was added?

The fam did have some great views from atop those 311 steps. 
That's it for today's scoop. Happy Wednesday!

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