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Thursday, August 24, 2006

The whole world in my hands

It is possible to travel the whole world by just visiting the British Museum. I spent most of my time in Africa, especially Egypt. The museum has an astonishing quantity of statues and mummies (including Cleopatra). As much as I enjoy seeing these artifacts, they would have more meaning, or context, if they were returned to Egypt. There is an ongoing battle between the museum and Egypt over the return of some of these treasures that had been plundered by the British. And recently, I believe, Greece recovered some of its things.

Ever since I visited Actun Tunichil Maknal, I am in favor of having artifacts left where they are found. The cave in Belize had been thoroughly explored and documented by an archaeologist who left everything in situ. I was able to see the exact location where the Mayans had performed ritualistic deaths--the bones of the "chosen ones" in a pile on the ground with pottery shards laying all around.

A pot in a case in a museum doesn't tell me a story. Nontheless, I was most looking forward to the British Museum, despite my beliefs. The most famous if its treasures is the Rosetta Stone, which made the translation of certain hieroglyphics possible.

The museum offers free tours of the various exhibits and we purposely chose Africa (not including Egypt) to learn more about the continent. We
were the only ones to show up for the talk, so it was totally worth it.

In the three hours we spent in the museum, I have selected more travel destinations. So, it was quite fitting that we would stumble upon the world's largest travel bookstore while wandering through Covent Garden. Stanford's has three levels of books, travel gear and much more. I was in heaven. I didn't buy anything. The prices are double what they are stateside.

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