Night at the (British) Museum: fact and fantasy

Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Sian Toogood, Broadcast Manager, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, British Museum

In the century or so since the birth of film, the British Museum has had many cameras within its galleries, labs and libraries. For the most part they have been filming documentaries, unravelling mysteries of the Museum’s collection, but every once in a while the Museum gets to participate in the organised chaos that is feature film production. In the past we have had Hitchcock in the Egyptian Sculpture Gallery, Merchant Ivory in the Assyrian Galleries and Phaedra in the Parthenon Galleries; we can now add Fox to this pantheon, with their third installment of the hugely popular Night at the Museum series: Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb.


I was extremely pleased when I was approached by Fox, not because it was a fantastic opportunity to get more people interested in…

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Posted by on December 19, 2014 in Uncategorized


Rita Roberts’ Translation of the famous “Ivory” Tablet, Knossos Tablet KN 684 U h 11


Here is my latest translation of the Minoan Linear B Script writings which so far has been the most difficult.

Originally posted on Linear B, Knossos & Mycenae:

Rita Roberts’ Translation of the famous “Ivory” Tablet, Knossos Tablet KN 684 U h 11: Click to ENLARGE:

KN 684 U h 11 EREPATO KARAMATOOnce Rita and I had finally managed to establish our connection with Skype, due in no small part to her patience in assisting me to get it up and running on my computer, I began to teach her interactively. Her lessons have run to about one hour each, which is what I would have expected. Rita emphatically told me that she found this tablet, the famous “Ivory” one, to be the most difficult one by a long shot that she has had to translate so far. And she was right. I had deliberately assigned her this tablet with the express intention that she had to move on to more complex Linear B tablets; so this one came as a shock to her.During the classroom session, in which we tackled…

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Posted by on December 17, 2014 in Uncategorized


Was the ark round? A Babylonian description discovered


A fascinating insight from Dr Irving Finkel curator of The British Museum since 1979. This is not about my Linear B study but about cuneiform clay tablets which never the less I found interesting.

Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Irving Finkel, curator, British Museum
Detail of a cuneiform tablet

I’ve just come from the press conference launching my new book, The Ark Before Noah. As I told the journalists, it all started with a fairly normal event for a museum curator: a member of the public bringing in an object that had long been in their family to have it identified. As often happens in my case, it was a cuneiform tablet. The visitor, Douglas Simmonds, had been given it by his father for passing his exams. It was part of a modest collection: a few tablets, some cylinder seals, a lamp or two and some pieces from China and Egypt. His father, an inveterate curio hunter, had picked them up after the War in the late 1940s.

With kind permission of Douglas Simmonds

With kind permission of Douglas Simmonds

This tablet, however, turned out to be one in a million. The cuneiform was a sixty-line passage from the…

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Posted by on December 14, 2014 in Uncategorized


Sarcophagus with mummy of teenage boy opened

Sarcophagus with mummy of teenage boy opened.

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Posted by on December 10, 2014 in Uncategorized


Bringing a Ming painting back to life


A wonderful restoration of a Ming Painting.

Originally posted on British Museum blog:

Jin Xian Qiu, Senior Conservator of Chinese Paintings and Carol Weiss, Conservator of Chinese Paintings, British Museum

On entering the BP exhibition Ming: 50 years that changed China, one of the first objects visitors see is a large silk painting depicting an official in front of Beijing’s Forbidden City. This Ming dynasty painting by artist Zhu Bang was conserved especially for the exhibition, using traditional Chinese scroll mounting techniques that have been passed down from master to student since before this 500-year-old painting was even painted.

The British Museum is extraordinarily fortunate to have as its Senior Conservator of Chinese Paintings Mrs Jin Xian Qiu, who originally trained and worked in Shanghai Museum before coming to the British Museum 27 years ago. It is thanks to her expertise that many of the Museum’s Chinese paintings can be displayed today. For this particular project, along with the help of her…

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Posted by on December 8, 2014 in Uncategorized


The Minoans and their Leisure Time.

Apart from their magnificent artwork, their religion and the many crafts they produced  the Minoans spent some of their leisure time taking part in sports activities such as, boxing, wrestling and bull leaping.

The bull leaping is believed to be in connection with bull worship.  In one type the leaper approaches the bull from the front, grabs the horns and somersaults backwards. This is a highly dangerous sport. It is possible the bull was sacrificed afterwards as part of a religious ritual.

The Famous Bull Leaping Frescoe.

The Bull leaping Fresco Knossos

Mycenaean Wman weaving

Minoan Woman Weaving.

From Charalambus Cave

The Minoans also loved music. These musical instruments were found in a cave burial on the Lasithi  Plateau Crete.

Knossos Board Game.

This is the famous Knossos Board Game. It is the ancient board game discovered by Sir Arthur Evans  in the Palace of Knossos and goes back to 1600 BC  It is a ‘ race game ‘, but at the same time something more. It portrays an ancient symbolism about life and the trip to Hades with a return back to life. A gap between the two parts of the board is supposed to represent the River-Ocean that separates the world of the living from the world of the dead.



Posted by on December 6, 2014 in Uncategorized


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An Update on my Linear B Study

For those who have been following my interest in the Linear B Ancient Script writings, here is an update which includes my visit to The Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete. Here I was fortunate enough to see a wonderful display of some of the Linear B clay tablets which Sir Arthur Evans had discovered at Knossos Palace.  I could not believe my eyes when I saw how small these tablets were, and stood in amazement trying to imagine how the scribes managed to convey all the meanings of which they wrote on these tablets, which incidentally,  were not fired when they were initially made, just placed out in the sun to  dry.  Many of the tablets when found had evidence of being burned which has helped preserve them giving us an insight into a lost civilization. This for me was the attraction of learning the Minoan Scripts. It is from these Linear B writings we learn their way of life.  And I might add, it is thanks to my teacher Richard Vallance  who has helped me to achieve the learning of this fascinating subject far enough to be able to read most of the tablets I was looking at. However , Richard has informed me that he has to be a little tougher with my lessons now as they will get  more difficult the further into the study. so I hope my fellow bloggers will excuse the fact that my posts may be fewer than usual.

HERE ARE SOME LINEAR B TABLET PHOTO’S ” Courtesy of The Heraklion Archaeological Museum Crete “

You can click on all the photo’s to ENLARGE.

2007-02-16 23.56.22

ko-no-so   Knossos      a – mi – ni -so   Amnisos  Port

2007-02-16 23.57.06

Heaklion A

2007-02-16 23.58.53

I love this one. Its so clear. and I can write it all.  And lastly a photo of me at the Heraklion Archaeological Museum


Thanks to you all for your support in reading my Linear B posts.



Posted by on November 30, 2014 in Uncategorized


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