Friday, 5 April 2013

Cambridge anthropology

Any question I may have had in my mind about going for a quick spin in the boat was answered when I dragged myself out of my cacoon at 9.30am. The weather was dull, cold and still too windy. It would not make for a pleasurable journey.

So, I stuck with my plan to go into Cambridge. I got there by about 11,00am. What a lovely place, even when the sun's not out and especially before all the tourists arrive.

I found the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology easily.

It’s located in Downing Street (no, not the famous one in London). It’s next to the Sedgewick Museum (in the same building) and opposite the Zoology Museum. They have a very good location map on their website.

The ground floor is dedicated to the ancient history of Cambridge and the surrounding countryside. All very nicely presented in a clear, modern, ‘we’ve just had a grant from the National Lottery’ sort of way. Some of the exhibits would benefit from more explanation and, on some, I and a nearby visitor even found it difficult to work out what some artifacts were.

The ground floor area is quite small and I wondered if ‘that was it’. Then I saw the side door leading to the stairs, so up I went. On the first floor is a remarkable range of material from all over the world presented in a very friendly, accessible way including an enormous North American totum pole which they apparently cut in half and winched up through a trap door in the floor. It reached from the floor to the roof lights.

In an adjoining gallery was an exhibition of a project undertaken in New Guinea including a slideshow comparing life in two jungle villages. This was very illuminating and reminded me in many ways of life in Nepal (and probably many other third world countries).

On the third floor (the walkway in the photo) was a further exhibition of cultural artifacts, mainly artistic, which had formed the inspiration for further work by a group of present day artists. All very interesting.

Having now seen four of the Cambridge museums, this is the one I like best, closely followed by the Polar Museum. As I have said in a previous post, rocks, fossils, skeletons and classical art are fine in small quantities but I prefer the see and learn about the human side of history. In fact, I couldn’t leave Cambridge before I had visited the Polar Museum again.
Incidentally, I was watching Mastermind on TV a few weeks ago and lamenting the fact that the questions seem to be getting easier (ha ha) when a man came on answering questions on Scott’s Last Journey. My ears pricked up! He did well, I must say, but the last question couldn’t have been more better timed. John H asked, ‘What were last seven words written in Scott’s journal?’ As the contestant started his answer, the final buzzer went but, as we all know, he’d already started so he could finish. With gulp and an obvious tremor in his voice, he said, correctly, ‘For God’s sake, look after our people.’ Stirring stuff indeed.

Now a question for you. What were Captain Oates last words before he walked out of the tent to his inevitable death in the snow and ice? Most people would answer, ’I’m going outside and I may be some time.’ And they would be almost right but there is a word missing. What he actually said, according to Scott’s last journal, was, ‘I’m just going outside and may be some time.’ If you got that right, give yourself a big brownie point. If you got it wrong,  just go outside for a while and think about it.

On my way back to the Landy, I passed this sign.
Not wanting to commit a nuisance in any occupiers entry,
I took my leave of Cambridge
-- Apr 2013 --

No comments: