Lunch With Andrew, Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum

Written June 21, 2008, on train from Manchester, England, to Holyhead, Wales, for ferry to Dublin, Ireland

After a good veg breakfast the next morning, I took two buses to Salisbury, then continued on to Oxford. I walked from the train station to the Ashmolean Museum, where I met Andrew Hodges for a pleasant lunch. We hadn’t seen each other for six or seven years since he stopped at Mills College as part of his lecture tour for his book on Alan Turing.

The Ashmolean has a wonderful collection of 25th dynasty materials, which I photographed along with a few contemporary Assyrian items.

On Andrew’s advice, I took a walk through town to see the old campus halls, the church, and other beautiful buildings. Then, back to the station and on to Manchester.

Silbury Hill, Avebury, and West Kennet Long Barrow

Written June 21, 2008, on train from Manchester, England, to Holyhead, Wales, for ferry to Dublin, Ireland

On the way to Avebury, we stopped at Silbury Hill, a grassy mound which is apparently the largest prehistoric mound constructed by people living in Europe.

At Avebury, the two women and I enjoyed a walk around the stones, those at Avebury far more deteriorated than those at Stonehenge. We visited the gift shop where we chatted with the friendly Irish proprietor.

They went on their merry way to Bath and I explored Avebury in more detail, skipping the museums, and meeting a delightful woman over lunch.

At her recommendation, I hiked through gated fields to the West Kennet Long Barrow, with its several subterranean chambers.

After the hike back, I caught the bus to Amesbury and chatted politics with an Australian fellow until the driver let me off just across the street from the B&B. I freshened up a bit, then decided to go out for another walk to see King’s Long? Barrows and Woodhenge.

On the way down the road to the trail gate, I ran into a cute French hitchhiker named Grégoire. After chatting a bit about the best place for him to camp if he didn’t get a ride, I asked if he wanted to join me on my hike. We settled mostly on conversation in French and he decided to go on the hike with me.

We checked out the barrows first, then after a couple of false starts, went to Woodhenge.

As we returned to the B&B, I agreed to fill up his water bottle, then invited to pay part of his meal if he’d join me at a pub in a hotel in town. I enjoyed getting to know him better over a cider and lasagna, then we walked back to the B&B where I had stashed his backpack and sent him off to go camping in the wild blue yonder. We agreed we’d try to meet again, possibly in Dublin.

Ritual Circle at Stonehenge

Written June 18, 2008, on the train From Liverpool to Manchester, England, United Kingdom

On the morning of Sunday, June 16, I woke up at 6:00 to get ready to leave the lodge by 6:30 for a brisk walk to Stonehenge. I walked on paths through sheep and cow pastures. I took some pictures of the sheep and the sun rising in the sky, then of Stonehenge and surrounding burrows (or burial mounds) from some distance away. Time grew short and I had to run the last half mile through sheep pasture to Stonehenge. I arrived just at 7:30 for the special early bird bisit with only about 10 other people. We paid a bit extra and reserved in advance for the privilege of walking in and around the stone circles and touching the stones. The massive stones, some fallen or covered in lichen, evoke a sense of mystery. Stonehenge radiates ancient energy, the sense that generations have stood hand-in-hand in circles within the stones for rituals of consuming importance.

The latest archaeological digs suggest the stones mark an ancient burial ground. The excavations also suggest the Cursus, a short distance away, was used for processions and possibly a settlement of some kind. Not much further away at Woodhenge, of which nothing survived except buried wooden post holes, now reconstructed with low concrete posts painted various colors. Nearby is Durring Walls, perhaps one of the largest prehistoric enclosure mounds.

After wandering through the stones at Stonehenge for quite some time and satisfying my yen for photos of the stones and of me posted with the stones, I got to chatting with some other visitors on that day from Slough, Germany, and Virginia. The two women from Slough were the most friendly. A site employee was checking pictures of the stones against the actual stones, so that any damage to the stones during the upcoming solstice celebrations could be logged. Last year, about 30,000 people visited Stonehenge for the solstice, the only time everyone can go right up into the stones for free. Chloe and ???, the women from Slough, offered me a lift and I told them I wanted to go to Avebury to see the large stone circle around the village there, along with nearbly Silbury Hill and the West Kennet Long Barrow. They decided to take a small detour on their trip to Bath to join me for the visit to Avebury.

On the drive to Avebury, we chatted about the differences between American English and English English. We decided to play a little game where I’d tell them about any cases where there were differences between the two dialects of English. I thought I’d only have to mention something every ten minutes or so, but it ended up more like every minute!

British and Horniman Museums, Veg Restaurant, and Pagan Pub

Written on June 14, 2008, in Nell of Old Drury Pub opposite Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London, United Kingdom

I returned to the hotel last evening thinking I’d perhaps go out later to a gay pub – after a short nap, I thought. Instead, I ended up crashing fairly hard and not feeling like getting out of bed despite a fairly troubled night’s sleep.

I haven’t developed any affection for the hotel. I heard people talking in the streets and through thin walls to the other rooms all night long. The fan makes such a racket when I turn on the bathroom light that I decided to pee with the light off. My criticism about the TV not working turned out to be unfounded however – I was pressing the off button on the remote to try to turn on the TV.

Waking this morning, I did a backup of all the pictures I’d taken. I rushed to get breakfast before 9:00: toast with jam, wait for scrambled or sunny-side-up eggs, a bit of juice made from a powder (like Tang), and tea that had such a slimy goo in it I was afraid to drink it. I chatted with a fellow from New Zealand seeking his fortune as an IT consultant in Britain.

I walked over to the British Museum and spent four hours inspecting and snapping photos of artifacts. I started with the Assyrian collection.

Flood Tablet, 11th Tablet of Gilgamesh Epic, Utnapishtim and the Ark, Cuneiform, Assyrian, in British Museum, London, England Letter to Esarhaddon From Magician About Death Date for Substitute King, 671 BCE, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Rituals for the Substitute King, Cuneiform Tablet, About 650 BCE, Asssyria, in British Museum, London, England

Report on Copying Library Tablets for Medical Library, Cuneiform Tablet, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England List of Babylonian Writing Boards and Clay Tablets for Royal Library, 648 BCE, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Petition From Chief Scribe Urad-Gula to Ashurbanipal, Cuneiform Tablet, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

List of Court Scholars of Ashurbanipal Including Three Egyptians, Cuneiform Tablet, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Autobiography of Ashurbanipal, Cuneiform Tablet, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Ashurbanipal Library Colophon Boasting of Writing Powers From Nabu, God of Writing, Cuneiform Tablet, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Limestone Incense Burner, About 760-625 BCE, Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Leg of Table on Tripod, Bronze, 800-700 BCE, Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Neo-Assyrian Stamp Seals, Mostly 900-600 BCE, in British Museum, London, England

Pottery Jars and Drinking Cups, About 700-612 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Glazed Pottery Jars, Nimrud or Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Pottery Jars and Stand, About 700-612 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Neo-Assyrian Cylinder Seals, Mostly 900-750 BCE, in British Museum, London, England Head of Small Winged Bull, Stone, 700-612 BCE, Nineveh, Assyria, and Finial in Shape of Lion Head, Egyptian Blue, About 850-750 BCE, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Rock Crystal Inlay, 750-710 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, and Stone Boards, Incomplete, for Game of 20 Squares and Game of 58 Holes, 700-612 BCE, Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Stone Dish and Stone Bowls With Lion-Headed and Bird-Headed Handles, About 700-612 BCE, Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Bowl Inscribed With Name of Esarhaddon, Agate, 680-669 BCE, Nineveh, Assyria, and Dish With Gazelle-Head Handle, Stone, About 850-800 BCE, Tarbisu, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Neo-Assyrian Cylinder Seals, in British Museum, London, England

Glass Jar Belonging to Sargon II, About 720-710 BCE, Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Assyria, and Glass Jar, About 750-550 BCE, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Pair of Glass Bowls, About 790-710 BCE, Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Pair of Alabaster Jars Incised With Lion and Name of Sargon II, About 720-710 BCE, Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Silver Cup With Gold Leaf Overlaid on Floral and Geometric Patterns, 670-620 BCE, Hidden Below a Floor Where Buried About 612 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, and Bronze Cup With Incised Pattern, About 750-710 BCE, Part of Hoard Left Behind When Sargon Moved to Khorsabad, Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Pottery Plates, About 700-612 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Pottery Lamp, About 700-612 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Pottery Saucer Lamps, About 700-612 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Panel Representing King, Officials, Guards, and Protective Spirits, Perhaps From Quiver, Ivory, About 730-710 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Panels Representing King, Officials, Guards, and Protective Spirits, Perhaps From Quiver, Ivory, About 730-710 BCE, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Protective Spirit, Ivory Tablet, About 730-710 BCE, Central Palace, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Tribute Bearers, Ivory Tablet, About 730-710 BCE, Central Palace, Nimrud, Assyria, and Battle Scene, Ivory Tablet, About 730-710 BCE, Central Palace, Nimrud or Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Goats Kneeling Before a Rosette, Ivory Tablet, About 870-860 BCE, Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Assyria, and Kneeling Bull, Ivory Tablet, About 870-710 BCE, Nimrud or Nineveh, and Running Ostriches, Ivory Tablet, About 870-710 BCE, Nimrud or Nineveh, in British Museum, London, England

Hero Killing a Lion, Ivory Tablet, About 870-710 BCE, Probably Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Protective Spirits, Ivory, About 870-840 BCE, Balawat, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Assyrian in Court Dress Worshipping Shrine, Perhaps Ninurta, Domestic Shrine Tile, Gypsum, About 800-700 BCE, Ashur, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Seascape Wall Panel, Gypsum, About 730 BCE, Palace of Tiglath-pileser III, Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Horse Head With Elaborate Harness, Gypsum Wall Panel, About 710 BCE, Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Animal in Water, Gypsum Wall Panel, About 700 BCE, Palace of Sennacherib, Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

The Dying Lion, Gypsum Wall Panel, About 645 BCE, Palace of Ashurbanipal, Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Head of a Woman, Gypsum Wall Panel, About 700-625 BCE, Probably Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Base of a Royal Figure, Gypsum Wall Panel, Probably Palace at Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Head of a Woman, Statue, About 700-625 BCE, Ishtar Temple Area, Nineveh, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Head of a Eunuch Wearing Red Headband, Gypsum Wall Panel, About 710 BCE, Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Head of a Eunuch Wearing Red Headband, Gypsum Wall Panel, About 710 BCE, Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Head of a Eunuch Wearing Red Headband, Gypsum Wall Panel, About 710 BCE, Palace of Sargon, Khorsabad, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

Main Gate of City, Ashur,  and Map of Empire About 700 BCE, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Inlays From Divine Statues, 875-850 BCE, Temples at Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England Inlays From Divine Statues, 875-850 BCE, Temples at Nimrud, Assyria, in British Museum, London, England

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I continued with the Egyptian collection.

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I finished up with the Benin bronzes and an assortment of sub-Saharan artifacts.

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Then, I took photographs of some homoerotic Greek cups and vases, in particular, the so-called Warren Cup.

By the time I finished, I was late for an appointment at the Horniman Library associated with the Horniman Museum in Forest Hill. I didn’t have time to digest the 15 or so books I requested there, so I just typed in the reference information, then went to the museum for a quick trip through the African gallery there.

Finding the place wasn’t easy: two buses and a train from London Bridge, but the way back to central London was easier and I took the tube from London Bridge station to Covent Garden. There, I ate dinner at Food for Thought, a traditional veg restaurant. The place was packed, a long line stretching up the downward staircase at the entrance. I waited and eventually arrived at the head of the line, ordered quiche and salad with organic passion fruit juice. I shared a table and conversation with two women of apparently Indian extraction. They recommended another London veg restaurant called Govinda, run by the Krishnas.

Next, I walked to this pub, called Nell of Old Drury Pub. I came hoping to join the Rainbow Earth moot, which I had seen scheduled for this evening in the gay pagan yahoo group. However, it’s now 20:30 and no one has showed up. :(