The BP exhibition Scythians: warriors of ancient Siberia
14 September 2017 - 14 January 2018 Room 30, Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery £16.50, Members/under 16s free
2,500 years ago groups of formidable warriors roamed the vast open plains of Siberia. Feared, loathed, admired – but over time forgotten... Until now.
This major exhibition explores the story of the Scythians – nomadic tribes and masters of mounted warfare, who flourished between 900 and 200 BC. Their lifestyle and ferocity has echoed through the ages. Other groups from the Huns to the Mongols have followed in the Scythians' footsteps - and they have even influenced the portrayal of the Dothraki in Game of Thrones. The Scythians' encounters with the Greeks, Assyrians and Persians were written into history but for centuries all trace of their culture was lost – buried beneath the ice.
Discoveries of ancient tombs have unearthed a wealth of Scythian treasures. Amazingly preserved in the permafrost, clothes and fabrics, food and weapons, spectacular gold jewellery – even mummified warriors and horses – are revealing the truth about these people’s lives. These incredible finds tell the story of a rich civilisation, which eventually stretched from its homeland in Siberia as far as the Black Sea and even the edge of China.
Many of the objects in this stunning exhibition are on loan from the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg. Scientists and archaeologists are continuing to discover more about these warriors and bring their stories back to life.
Explore their lost world and discover the splendour, the sophistication and the sheer power of the mysterious Scythians.
Supported by BP Organised with the State Hermitage Museum, St Petersburg, Russia
2 November 2017 - 8 April 2018 Room 35 £15.00, Members/under 16s free
Beliefs in spiritual beings and worlds beyond nature are characteristic of all human societies. By looking at how people believe through everyday objects of faith, this exhibition provides a perspective on what makes believing a vital part of human behaviour.
Seeing how people believe, rather than considering what they believe, suggests that humans might be naturally inclined to believe in transcendent worlds and beings. Stories, objects, images, prayers, meditation and rituals can provide ways for people to cope with anxieties about the world, and help form strong social bonds. This in turn helps to make our lives well-ordered and understandable.
This exhibition is part of the fourth collaborative project between the British Museum, the BBC and Penguin Books. It builds on a Radio 4 series of 30 daily programmes over six weeks presented by former Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor.