History and The City: Only One Half Of The Story

This week I’ve been questioning the great Samuel Johnson who once said “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life”.

I mean, of course he is right. I am constantly grateful to live in a city bursting with life and history. The blood of London runs fast with museums, historic buildings, and some of the worlds most prized artefacts. In fact, every cobble, archway and corner tells a story dating back to Roman Britain.

And all of this is great because in the four years I’ve lived here there is never any repetition and sometimes feel like I have only scratched the surface of what there is to see. But yet, the more I wander around the cities great museums, the more I feel something is lacking.

 The Ancient Egyptian room at the British Museum has been a favourite of mine since childhood and I’d be surprised if you could find a richer abundance of artefacts in Egypt. But that’s the point, they aren’t in Egypt are they.

 Living in London I feel like history is constantly poured down my throat through objects, but without people or real context. I want to see the places which have inspired my imagination through the countless exhibition displays I’ve seen. In our archaeology lectures we were always told the object is only half the story, and practically meaningless without any context. For instance, who made it? What were the circumstances that bought it to being? What relevance did it have to that culture, or even that person?

 With that said, maybe it’s time I go off and search for the other side of my story. Immerse myself in the cultures which have evolved from the periods which I hold so close to my heart.

 And so, perhaps i will say goodbye to London…for now.

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