The British Museum’s Online Collection

There’s a lot in the British Museum that shouldn’t be there, ‘borrowed’ during England’s colonial past. One classic example is the Complaints Tablet of Ea-nasir, a wonderful piece of archaeological evidence now removed far from its original context. I’ve written before (here) about how the use of replicas might help us address some of the pressing questions of repatriation and ownership in regard to modern museums, and help us move forward into a more respectful and co-existent form.

An entirely digital museum, as the British Museum have in part put together here, is an interesting alternative – can new high-quality imagery and 3D modeling allow countries to benefit from the education that access to foreign artefacts bring, without having to deny countries of their cultural heritage.

The British Museum’s Online Collection is a remarkable resource – a great deal of their collection has been digitised for public consumption and investigation. It can be accessed, for free, here.

Each entry contains a number of high definition photographs and a wealth of background information – date, materials, previous owners etc. Here’s a Middle Babylonian carved boundary stone from BC954 (there’s a lot of additional information available by scrolling down on the menu at the left).

And here’s an example of an impressive 7th century ‘Anglo-Saxon’ amulet.

It’s an ideal resource if you’re looking to put together some research of your own, if you can’t get access to museums due to your schedule or the virus, or if you simply live in a different country.

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