The British Museum is one of my all time favourite places. I find history fascinating, and am in awe of the ingenuity of our species throughout time. Vast palace without metal tools? Sorted, 2,500 years ago. Symmetrical, polished stone statues three times the height of a man made of a rock found many miles from where you want it? We've got this, 3,500 years ago. Beautiful polished axe heads made of hard and beautiful greenstone taking hundreds of hours to make? We did that, 5,000 years ago. And you can still see these thing. We made beautiful things, perfect things, way back before we had running water or cures for diseases or reliable long distance communication - at the same time women ground wheat for flour by hand, on their knees, for so many hours every day that it permanently damaged their skeletons. They would be breathtaking achievements today, but so much bigger then.
The mummies bother me - dead bodies on display like this - but that thought forces another: that's a person. What would he think of me, of this, of us? What would strike him most about today, if he got up and dug his eyes out of that canopic jar over there, untangled all his layers of bandages and wasn't too distracted by the fact somebody had pulled his brain out through his nose with a hook...?