The British Museum is one of the world’s great museums – and to be frank, it may be the very best! The museum is dedicated to human history, art, and culture. The British Museum houses some 8 million artifacts and other works. It’s the most comprehensive collection on earth, with items originating from every continent and period of time.
The British Museum was established in 1753, largely using the collections of the physician and scientist Sir Hans Sloane. By the end of the decade (i.e., on January 15, 1759) the museum was opened to the general public.
As Britain expanded its colonial footprint, her scientists went around the globe gathering ancient artifacts to paint a picture of humanity’s history. To be sure, this has created some controversy as some feel the objects should be returned to their place of origin. It could be argued that Britain largely gave rise to the fields of anthropology, archaeology and paleontology – ancient artifacts were largely ignored until Britain perfected techniques for studying.
The British Museum for Natural History opened in 1881 – this began to place real focus on archaeological and paleontological finds like never before.
In 1973, the British Library Act formally detached the library department from the British Museum. This would eventually become the British Library. In 1997, the British Library was moved to a new location.
Did You Know?
Archaeology is the study of the ancient and recent human past through material remains (including artifacts, structures, architecture, landscapes, and other human implements.
Anthropology is the study of all human culture in the past and the present. This study draws largely on social and cultural mores of a time and places as well an understanding of a people group’s language and traditions.
Paleontology is the study of the history of life on Earth as reflected in the fossil record. Fossils are the remains or living organisms, such as plants, animals, fungi, and bacteria.
The person largely considered the “Father of Modern Archaeology” is Sir William Ramsey. He was a Scottish archaeologist and New Testament scholar. By his death in 1939 he had become the foremost authority of his day on the history of Asia Minor and a leading NT scholar. Ramsay was educated in the Tübingen school of thought (founded by F. C. Baur), which doubted the reliability of the New Testament. His extensive archaeological and historical studies convinced him of the historical accuracy of the New Testament.
Ramsay was the first professor of classical archaeology at Oxford and pioneered what became the study of antiquity. It is for this reason he is largely regarded as the “Father of Modern Archaeology”. Ramsay became a Bible believing Christian studying the Book of Acts and his methods formed the basis for the science of archaeology as it is taught today.
Luke is a historian of the first rank; not merely are his statements of fact trustworthy, he is possessed of the true historic sense…In short this author should be placed along with the very greatest of historians.
Sir William Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveler and Roman Citizen