Face to Face with history -Museums on May Day

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Minoan Throne

As the May Morning festivities were winding down and our parking ticket still had a couple of hours to run, we decided to visit the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford while we ere there. To be fair, there is no way that a couple of hours in enough to really visit  such a place… but there is so much to see that even an hour is enough to send you into sensory overload.

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We were greeted by Francois Dieussart’s, “Judith and Holofernes”and, in spite of the gruesome nature of the depiction, the three of us exchanged a smile. The tale had featured in a theatrical production by our friend, while the symbolism of ‘beheading the ego’ had been a central theme of the Silent Eye’s  recent Leaf and Flame workshop

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There was no particular reason for our visit… except that we were there. We rather hoped to see some early British artefacts, but were, for the most part, rather disappointed… there was very little on display, though doubtless the vaults hold many treasures. On the other hand, the displays were amazing… and not least for their synchronicity.

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The Minoan room started it… not a surprise really, with the legends of the Minotaur and the labyrinth, the double-headed labrys… the Minoan axe so similar to that symbolically used by our Green Knight… and the little statuettes of the Snake Goddess from Knossos that had been a part of my own visualisations which sent shivers down my spine as soon as I saw them.

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Once the shivers had started, they barely stopped as century after century, culture after culture rolled back the veil of time and we gazed into the eyes of the faces of our ancestors, knowing that in the distant once-upon-a-time these were living, breathing people who lived, loved and laughed just as we do today.

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Some we know… the golden mask of Agamemnon has a name and we remember some of his story. The Egyptian temple singer  and priestess, Meresamun, still lies serenely beneath her funerary mask, enfolded within the wings of her god.

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There are the faces of deities and heroes, though doubtless many were carved from those in life. The eyes of anthropomorphic gods seem to hold a knowledge to be shared, soul to soul, as if the eyes of the Artist burns within them.

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Others still are forgotten and their nameless gaze speaks silently of eternity. Their stories are lost, their lives no more than a memory in stone… yet once they lived and each one of them changed the course of history in some small way, if only by their presence in the world… as do we all.

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Many of the faces are stylised,  depicted in a manner unique to a place and time. Others are shown in a more natural way and their faces could be those of the people who now gaze upon them. From across a world and an evolution, eyes mirror our own and the faces of the dead silently remind the living of the true kinship of the human family.

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About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She writes alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. Find out more at France and Vincent. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent. Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com.
This entry was posted in Ancient Egypt, Art, Goddess, History, mankind, Relationships and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

41 Responses to Face to Face with history -Museums on May Day

  1. Wow. What wonderful treasures. 🙂

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  2. I’m glad I’m not the only crazy person who loves museums. Garry and I always find ourselves going to whatever museums we find when we travel … and I never regret the time spent. Great little museum.

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  3. KL Caley says:

    What a marvellous collection Sue! It’s always great to have a wander round a museum, as you say taking it all in is difficult but I love the stories you come across, there is something special about seeing a part of it there in front of you. I particularly love old handwriting, it is often so beautiful and ornate, yet something so simple. Thanks for sharing. KL ❤

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    • Sue Vincent says:

      I find the very early forms of writing fascinating. You can see the evolution of letters from pictures and I wonder what our own letters originally looked like… And what they represented.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. TanGental says:

    great place – you can find anything there. We went last summer as the Textiliste wanted to view ancient looms and I had a wander around the pacific island exhibit that was fascinating. As you say, 2 hours barely gets you through the entrance.

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  5. Mary Smith says:

    Fascinating stuff there. I’m sure you wished you had a lot longer to explore the exhibits.

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  6. I used to enter museum or gallery without reasons.
    Just love being in the middle of both histories and arts.
    I think, most of us felt there is magic in such a place.
    And I just love the silence in that place too, while you walk, study and watch, and admiring, almost wanting to reach everything in your arms and even touching it if you can.
    I bet if that happen, I will be in a coma for days after being electrified by the excitement! LOL

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  7. Some of those treasures are so famous even I recognize them from TV documentaries and the like, particularly the Golden Mask of Agamemnon and the Snake Goddess statuette (the one on the right anyway). You’re very lucky to have had the chance to see them. 🙂

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  8. vronlacroix says:

    I love how art bridges time, not only in images but in feelings. I also like how you narrowed our focus from the general to the specific message.

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  9. alohaleya says:

    This brought back fond memories of studying art history. I would love to see these treasures someday. And funny, I was just thinking about the Minoan snake goddess – she’s always had an impact on me. Love the synchronicity! Thank you, Aleya

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  10. Helen Jones says:

    One of the reasons I love museums – the human stories within each artifact.

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  11. Karen says:

    Wonderful! Next time, do let me know when you might be over this way, i.e, if you’d like a tour of some of the earlier artifacts, et al in the museum! Yes, and wasn’t May Morning great this year… did manage to get out for a wonderful time… all blessings to you/yours : )

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  12. Pingback: Face to Face with history -Museums on May Day | GrannyMoon's Morning Feast

  13. Eliza Waters says:

    Fabulous collection and I love seeing the artifacts through your eyes.

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  14. adeleulnais says:

    Thank you for sharing these photos with us. What a wonderful glimpse into the past and indeed ancestors.

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  15. The final picture looks like a modern person. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Pingback: Seeing the sacred | The Silent Eye

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