Tired of London, Tired of Life - A website about things to do in London



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7 October 2009

See Seti I's sarcophagus

Your author was recently asked by Peter Watts from Time Out to name his favourite London museum exhibit. He had to go for the sarcophagus of Seti I at the Sir John Soane Museum. The sarcophagus sits in its own chamber below ground level at the rear of the museum in a space called the 'Sepulchral Chamber'. After he acquired it, Soane was so proud that he held a three night party for a thousand people to come and view the treasure.

What is so amazing about the sarcophagus is that it stood in Seti’s tomb in the Valley of Kings for thousands of years in its original state, perfectly white with figures and hieroglyphics inlaid in sulphate of copper in blue. It had been perfectly carved in one piece and intricately decorated on every surface, and was one of the finest examples of its kind anywhere in the world. However, when Soane acquired it and brought it to smoky London, most of the detail fell out and the white stone turned yellow.

Your author is not sure how he feel that this treasure sat for so long, perfectly intact and in its natural environment, and then it was suddenly ripped out, ruined by the London smog and placed in a cellar surrounded by tat.

To your author, the sarcophagus perfectly evokes the joy and shame of those of London museums which were formulated in the age of empire. We Londoners have all these lovely treasures, more treasures than we know what to do with, they’re absolutely fascinating and people come from all over the world to see them, but should they really be here?

For full opening times and details for the Soane Museum see this old post or visit http://www.soane.org/.

^Seti I from Wikipedia under Wikimedia Commons^

1 comment:

  1. It's an amazing site, with a typically cavalier story. You can even be talked round the museum by Stephen Fry. We've got loads of info on the ancient wonders to be found in London, check us out and moan at us if we've missed anything!