What does it take to move an ancient artefact around the world?
For the third time since 2015, IAG Cargo is supporting the British Museum in London to transport such items for the upcoming BP exhibition I am Ashurbanipal: king of the world, king of Assyria.
The exhibition will focus on the mighty king’s reign over Assyria – a vast empire that stretched from the Mediterranean through to what is now modern-day Iran.
Around 200 objects from the ancient empire will be on display, some coming to London from museums around the world. For some however, such as the colossal Assyrian winged bulls and lions, the British Museum is already home.
Originally shipped by Austen Henry Layard in 1847, the lamassu sculptures, weighing over nine tonnes each, were transported from Nineveh to London by raft, ship and a combination of makeshift pulleys, levers and carts. The route covered Basra in southern Iraq and Bombay in India before sailing around Africa to complete their journey to England. Lastly, the stone statues had to be pulled up the British Museum steps by hand.
Moving the artefacts in the 19th century would not have been dissimilar to the original process thousands of years ago. Yet this is radically different from today where the important objects enjoy a more first-class level of service thanks to IAG Cargo’s ‘Secure’ product, dedicated to delivering precious consignments.
Beyond immersing visitors in the impressive achievements of a by-gone empire, the exhibition will also highlight the work of the British Museum’s ‘Iraq Emergency Heritage Management Training Scheme’ to combat the very modern challenges faced in protecting Iraqi cultural heritage that is under threat.
The ‘Iraq Scheme’, developed by the Museum in 2015, was in response to the systematic targeting of heritage sites in Iraq by Daesh (IS) . The project is training 50 Iraqi archaeologists and museum staff in a range of skills covering retrieval and rescue archaeology and their work will be explored during the exhibition.
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British Museum exterior image: © Trustees of the British Museum