Day 29: London Part 2 (British Museum & London Zoo)

Zeke woke up very excited this morning because he was going to get to go to the London Zoo. He told us it was Red Dragon’s birthday today (Red Dragon is his favorite stuffed animal).

After breakfast, we got on the bus and left Oxford around 9:00.

Zeke enjoyed sitting next to Aunt Shelley on the way into London.

Excitement quickly turned back into tiredness.

  

We finally made it to the museum around 11:00 AM.

The British Museum

There was no line (on weekends the line can extend around the block), so we walked right in.

The great courtyard in the middle was originally open-air, but was later enclosed. Now it’s a gift shop.

We headed straight for the Ancient Near Eastern collection and James taught class. Below is a winged guardian creature from ancient Assyria. This could be what a biblical cherub looked like in the minds of ancient Hebrew writers.

James talked to the students about different kinds of supernatural hybrid animals in the bible and why they may not look like we tend to imagine them.

Below is the “Black Obelisk” erected by Shalmaneser III, which has the only known depiction of a person from the Bible.

James taught the students about the obelisk and who it depicts and why it’s important for the bible.

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Below is a close-up of what James was pointing at in the picture above: Jehu, king of Israel, bowing down to Shalmaneser III, becoming his vassal.

We also saw some hunting scenes from the king of Assyria’s palace. These reliefs depict the king as an amazing huntsman who can strangle lions with his bare hands!

Next we headed to the room with the Lachish relief, a full-room relief depicting Sennacherib’s campaign against Judah during the reign of king Hezekiah, ca. 701 BCE. It particularly depicts the king’s siege of the heavily fortified city of Lachish. Below in the top center you can see a bunch of heads piled up which are the heads of Judahite warriors. Below them you can see Assyrian soldiers (right) and Judahite slaves being taken into exile (left).

And here are some other pictures of it. Below you can see Assyrian archers.

We found more winged creatures from the Assyrian palace in Khorsabad.

And because we were so close, we popped into the room with the Elgin Marbles, which are the decorative marble reliefs and sculptures originally at the Parthenon.

And even more winged creatures from Assyria.

Below is the Taylor Prism, which details Sennacherib’s campaign against the Kingdom of Judah, an itemized list of the tribute he received from Hezekiah, and how Sennacherib “shut up [Hezekiah] like a bird in a cage.” It does not explain why Sennacherub did not also take Jerusalem. The Biblical story has an angel killing tens of thousands of men overnight and thus forcing Sennacherib to withdraw.

They also had a stonework lion relief/painting from Babylon. Unfortunately for us, the Ishtar Gate is at the Pergamon Museum in Berlin.

We also found an Assyrian tablet that detailed a story about a guy who built a boat to survive a world-wide flood.

 

There was also an extensive Egyptian collection. Below is just one item from that: Pharaoh, shortly after death, has his heart weighed against a feather. If it weighs less than a feather, he was a good pharaoh and goes on to his reward. If it’s heavier than a feather, he goes to the bad place. Doing justice and making prosperity for his people makes his heart light while ignoring justice and selfishly hoarding prosperity to himself makes his heart heavy. This is the context of the Exodus where the pharaoh “hardens his heart” which could better be translated as “made his heart heavy.” In other words, by ignoring God’s demands and bringing further calamity on his people and land, he was ignoring his God-given task of ruling his people with justice and mercy.

We also had to see the Rosetta Stone, even though it’s post-biblical. It’s just too important, so we had to see it.

 

Thus ended our group tour of the British Museum. After teaching class for 2 hours, James let the students go at 1:00 PM.

Lunch and Regent’s Park

We headed off to the London Zoo, but first we needed to grab lunch and walk through Regent’s Park to get there. We grabbed coffee at Starbucks and then lunch at Pret A Manger (a chain here with pretty good food that’s ready to grab and walk out with).

Regent’s Park was really quite beautiful. It reminded me of Central Park in NYC.

Outside the zoo, Zeke saw an animatronic T-Rex. He got really excited, but sadly the dinosaur exhibit was not open until later this month.

London Zoo

Zeke finally go to go to the zoo! We saw lions first.

The students really love the kids.

Here’s Zeke with a llama in the background.

And the tiger exhibit was great.

    

We even got to see a tiger up close as one was lying right next to the glass!

While we were standing there, a guy with a huge professional camera came up to us and asked if he could take a picture of Micah looking at the tiger. He said he worked for the zoo in the marketing department and asked if he could use the pictures of Micah in promotional material. So hey – Micah might be famous.

Did I mention that the students really love the kids?

Next we saw the giraffes.

I got the students together for a picture.

We saw lots of other animals too.

Around 4:00 we headed back to the front to go through the gift shop, then about 4:20 we left the zoo and started our walk back to the British Museum. It was quite a hike (2 miles) and we walked as fast as we could. We stopped at Pret A Manger (pretty sure it’s a French name) again to get dinner because the kids wouldn’t make it on the 2 hour bus ride back without food.

We hopped on the bus at about 5:00 PM and headed back to Oxford. When we got back we took a group photo in front of the house. It’s probably the last time all of us will be together in one place since the trip officially ends on Wednesday afternoon. We fly back to DFW on Thursday.

Our last trip to London was a great success. Teaching class in the British Museum was definitely a highlight for James. Going to the zoo was definitely a highlight for Zeke.

Did I mention that the students really love the kids? They had a group hug at the end of the day. 🙂

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