Sunday, 19 January 2014

Culture: El Dorado exhibition

Last week, my mum, brother and I went to the British Museum to see Beyond El Dorado: power and gold in ancient Colombia.  Firstly, it was exciting because I've never been to the British Museum before, and secondly, the exhibition was incredible. To me, it's always impressive how hundreds of artefacts, thousands of years old, have survived, from tiny pieces of jewellery to statues taller than myself (OK not hard, but you see my point). 

Who are these people?
I wasn't sure who El Dorado was, but as soon as you walk into the exhibition, there is a wall which explains what, rather than who, it was. The name means 'golden one', and myths have described it as a lost city of gold or a golden man: the truth is much more interesting, as gold was not currency during this period, but had symbolic significance. 

There were hundreds of artefacts, from nose rings and chest plates to cups and religious offerings in the shape of animals and little figures. I've never seen so much gold! I was particularly impressed by the advanced techniques they used to construct the intricate objects, which were explained using brief video demonstrations as well as text on the walls and little boards in front of each glass case.

As well as the beautiful objects, which were often constructed with other textiles such as feathers and precious stones, the exhibition explained how the objects were significant in the ancient Colombian people's spiritual lives, which included ceremonies to connect with animal spirits and rituals of transformation. They wearable objects were also used to display wealth and social rank, in life and death.

Tickets can be found here. The exhibition closes on 23rd March 2014.

The British Museum is enormous, so it's impossible to see everything in one day, but while we were there we also looked around the Ancient Egypt and Ancient Greece and Rome rooms. I loved the statues and am even more eager to visit Greece now. 

Mother's impression of a lion.

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