How has your week been so far? I am not going to lie – I feel like January is starting to drag, however, I can’t believe that it is already near the end of the month and I have Chinese New Year to look forward to! To keep my spirits high and trying not to let the cold winter days bring me down I have been keeping my eye out for exhibitions in London to share with you all.
Last Sunday, I went to the British Museum to visit “I am Ashurbanipal, king of the world, king of Assyria” exhibition. Though I have been fascinated by the history of Babylon and the Middle Eastern region during this time, I do not know very much about that period apart from the beautiful statues that I had previously seen in the British Museum and the Louvre. As you can imagine, I was super excited to learn a little bit more about the Assyrian empire. The current exhibition will be available until 24th February, so if you are in town and want to keep out the winter cold, I would highly recommend the exhibition.
King Ashurbanipal of Assyria (r. 669–c. 631 BC) was the most powerful man on earth. He described himself in inscriptions as ‘king of the world’, and his reign from the city of Nineveh (now in northern Iraq) marked the high point of the Assyrian empire, which stretched from the shores of the eastern Mediterranean to the mountains of western Iran. – British Museum
The Lions and the Library
When you first enter the exhibition, there is a wonderful ambience. I personally, think it is one of the most tastefully displayed exhibitions that I have been to in a long time. The room was relatively dark but key pieces were highlighted with spotlights. From the start, the impression I got about King Ashurbanipal was that he completely understood the concept of “personal brand”. The beautiful artwork carved in gypsum clearly advertises his bravery through the killing of lions – the greatest beast in the Assyrian empire. Not only did he consistently boast how brave he was but also liked to tell everyone how smart he was. During his reign, he made it a mission to learn from the scholars at the time. There were great examples of their clay tablets and writings at the exhibition, including extracts of the Epic of Gilgamesh.
Lights & Action
Assyrian artists seemed to have enjoyed depicting their success of wars through cruelty and brutality in extremely graphic detail! The museum made wonderful use of projectors, which I had never seen before. By projecting an outline on a different part of the panel, you were able to follow the intricate story; it really gave an insight into how stories were told to the masses during that time. With sound and lighting effects – it was just like a movie. I found it truly jaw-dropping; even if you might not be interested in the history, it is worth just to see the use of projectors!
I spent roughly two hours at the exhibition, and this was also not at my usual pace of reading every single thing possible. There was so much in the exhibition, unfortunately, I did get fatigued with all the information and intricate objects that I found myself skipping certain items or sections because I just couldn’t absorb any more facts.
If I was to give feedback to the British Museum, they should have provided an option of an audio guide, so that it was easier to step back and observe an object and listen to commentary rather than rely on the information written on display. There was exclusive curators’ commentary available through Apple Music and Google Play. However, by the time I found out about it, I was already inside the exhibition with no reception so I couldn’t download the audio guide and I also didn’t have my headphones either…
Nonetheless, it was a great exhibition; so it gets a 4 out of 5 pineapples. Have any of you been? What were your thoughts? As always, I would love to read your comments and thoughts. Do share any interesting facts about the Assyrian empire with me; or if you have any questions on the exhibition, please comment below!
With Sweet & Sour Love,
Pineapple Chicken x