William Sterling

The Rosetta Stone


This topic was planned as day five of a five part introduction to the European Galleries of the British Museum run at the City Lit and the Museum on 31 July 2013.  Sadly, it was cancelled at the last minute but I hope to re-run the course in summer 2014.

The Eighteenth Century Enlightenment, exemplified by the British Museum Enlightenment Gallery, altered our interpretations of the past. The museum was founded in 1753 so is part of Modern European culture in its own right and this is reflected in the Enlightenment Gallery in which Sir Hans Sloane’s collection forms a nucleus around which seven aspects of the Enlightenment are explored.  The Rosetta Stone exemplifies the thirst for knowledge and the conquest of interpreting lost languages and a replica of it stands near the centre of the gallery. The other galleries trace the development of European culture in ceramics, glass, metalwork and jewellery among other crafts. Works examined included Italian maiolica, French painted enamels, early English ceramics by John Dwight, a rare set of Garter insignia, Chinese porcelain rescued from shipwrecks, gold work by Paul Storr and others, the Hull Grundy jewellery bequest as well as a selection of the magnificent collection of clocks.

Below are some of the handouts from the course

British Museum timeline


Enlightenment Booklist

Enlightenment Book List