Babylon at the British Museum

Really enjoyable exhibition at the BM - enjoyed it much more than either Hadrian or Chinese Emperor. No longer in the Reading Room - I hope they are putting the reading room back to its proper use, the Exhibition is essentially an essay on the idea of Babylon.

The narrative begins with Breughel's Tower of Babel and then shows star items from Babylon in the time of Nebucanassar and Belshazzar. Thereafter, the exhibition looks at the myth of Babylon interspersed with historical sections essentially based on the biblical stories of Daniel and the Writing on the Wall. There is a section of 'legacy' based on Babylonian science (use of base 60 and the Zodiac). At the end the exhibition comes right up to date with film clips such as Metropolis and Intolerance, and of the affect of the 2nd Gulf War on Babylon. There is a clip of an academic discussion a Rasta view of Babylon.

In many ways it is quite light weight and non - threatening. The examination of ancient Babylon is very light and fluffy - models of the Zigurat and Ishtar Gate, fabulous glazed tiled images of Lions and Babylonian dragons, marvelous cuniform cylinders and bricks, but really very little detail. The narrative is one which had you asked any well informed person what they know about Babylon, they could rough out the main themes on the back of a napkin, Tower of Babel, Biblical Story, Saddam Hussein, American soldiers. The technology is very traditional with some use of sound and a little film.

None-the-less it is a really enjoyable exhibition - possibly because it builds on the knowledge of the viewer. For example the biblical quote shown here - just imagine what sort of God that is - one who can't cope with his creation fulfilling their potential.

British Museum exhibition exposes modern tragedy of Babylon | Art and design | The Guardian


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