Tag Archives: British Museum

The looting of Sardis

Finally, Greece and Turkey can agree on something. They wish they had back the archaeological treasures that have been taken to other countries in the past. Greece wants back the Elgin marbles taken from Athens to the British Museum. Turkey wants back the treasures taken from Sardis in September 1922, the days of unrest during the fall of the Ottoman Empire. According to the article by John Leonard in Athens News, the port city of Smyrna (modern Izmir) was burning when John Horton sent crates of antiquities to the United States.

Numerous Turkish artifacts, including some real big ones (in size and importance), are displayed in the British Museum, and in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin.

It is a fascinating story with two sides. Read Leonard’s article here.

The photo below is one I made at Sardis earlier this month. The view is West over the ruins of the Temple of Artemis. One of the Ionic capitals is in the Metropolitan Museum in New York. The temple dates back to at least the 6th century B.C., but was destroyed in 499 B.C., and then underwent three rebuilding phases. The columns seen here date to the third rebuilding phase (ca. A.D. 150). Ruins of a restored Byzantine church from the fourth century A.D. may be seen in the left corner of the photo.

Sardis. Temple of Artemis. View West. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sardis. View west over the Temple of Artemis. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Sardis is mentioned in the Bible only in Revelation (Apocalypse) 1:11 and 3:1-6.

saying, “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”  (Revelation 1:11 ESV)

Another post about efforts to retrieve artifacts from foreign museums may be read here.

HT: Jack Sasson

Neil MacGregor: 2600 years of history in one object

A friend just forwarded a link to a fascinating talk by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum, about the Cyrus Cylinder. MacGregor took the Cyrus Cylinder from the British Museum to Iran when it was loan to the museum in Tehran.

What I learned was the use made of the Cyrus Cylinder by the Jews at the time of the Balfour Declaration, and the use made of it by the Shah of Iran.

MacGregor speaks of the Cyrus Cylinder as a “major player in the politics of the Middle East.”

Follow this link. The film is about 20 minutes old.

Now in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, that the word of the LORD by the mouth of Jeremiah might be fulfilled, the LORD stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia, so that he made a proclamation throughout all his kingdom and also put it in writing:  “Thus says Cyrus king of Persia, ‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth, and he has charged me to build him a house at Jerusalem, which is in Judah. Whoever is among you of all his people, may the LORD his God be with him. Let him go up.'” (2 Chronicles 36:22-23 ESV)

The Cyrus Cylinder in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

The Cyrus Cylinder in the British Museum. Photo by Ferrell Jenkins.

Check some of our previous links to the Cyrus Cylinder here and here. Use the search box to locate others.

Sinaitic Manuscript now online (with some problems)

The AP news release about the Sinaitic Manuscript can be read here [now broken]. The release correctly points out that the manuscript from the fourth century is the oldest complete New Testament. Of course, we have manuscripts of portions of the New Testament from the early second century.

The British Library says the full text of the Codex Sinaiticus will be available to Web users by next July, digitally reconnecting parts that are held in Britain, Russia, Germany and a monastery in Egypt’s Sinai Desert.

It is significant that all parties owning portions of the manuscript have agreed to work together to make the material available online. In the past I have made a few photos of the open pages of the manuscript in the British Museum. But with the glare of the glass it was always difficult to get a good photo. More recently the British Museum manuscript has been displayed in the new British Library, but in a dimly lit room.

Now you eventually will be able to read the manuscript online. The manuscript includes some portions of the Old Testament, too. To illustrate the high quality of the manuscript I am posting a photo of the first few lines of the Lamentation of Jeremiah over the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in 586 B.C. This is from a manuscript in Leipzig.

Notice that the words for Israel and Jerusalem are abbreviated. They are the words with the line over them. The name of Jeremiah is seen in the last line.

The first release of the Codex Sinaiticus Project went online a few minutes ago here. The only New Testament book in the present collection is Mark. At the moment the page is not behaving correctly, but I think that will be corrected in time. I am unable to see the image of the MS, but the transcription shows up fine. Take a look, and be patient. You will find some valuable information about the manuscript and the project.

I think I am getting a message saying the system is out of memory. Try later after the crowd leaves home!