The British Museum and Fantasy – D B Nielson – Guest Post

Keepers of Genesis, by DB Nielsen is a gripping new epic adventure series perfect for fans of Twilight and A Discovery of Witches. A magical blend of romance, fantasy and fascinating ancient history, this captivating four-part series is already enthralling a legion of young adult readers and crossover fiction fans alike. As the second part, SCROLL publishes this week I am joined by the author Denise who tells us about her love of history, The British Museum and fantasy.

The British Museum and Fantasy by D B Nielsen

As the heroine of my novel, Sage Woods observes, history is often more fantastical than fiction – or fantasy for that matter. Perhaps it’s because history feeds our curiosity and wonder – that we can discover much about the human condition whereby, to know ourselves, we need to understand our past, and at the end of our journey, we learn that all human stories are about love and mortality. 

Perhaps this is why so many Hollywood movies are based on the mystery and mysticism of ancient artefacts and talismans, such as the popular series of Indiana Jones, Lara Croft, The Mummy, the Night at the Museum (a new film instalment has just been released) and, of course, The Lord of the Rings (based on the bestselling novels). Some of these films have even featured landmark museums or archaeologists and historians adventuring all over the globe – which is probably why I love them so much (plus the fact that they often have mythical creatures such as dragons and elves).

My own novel begins with Sage at the British Museum as she discovers her extraordinary link to an ancient artefact that leads to the only undiscovered Wonder of the Ancient World, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon, and to the origins of humankind. And whilst this particular artefact is based purely on fantasy, much of the novel shows the strong link between our mythology and history. So let me take you on a journey of the British Museum that will spark your imagination…

Filled with ancient artefacts, relics and mummies, the British Museum is a popular tourist destination, but it is here that Sage experiences her first paranormal incident. It’s no wonder too … the museum is a mysterious, spooky place where history, myth and legend reside within its walls. The lives of others make for interesting stories and, if you’re interested in history like I am, you can travel through time as you gaze upon the Rosetta Stone and statues of the Pharaohs, the Elgin Marbles taken from the Parthenon, and the Viking ship found buried at the Sutton Hoo…

But if you follow Sage’s journey in the novel, the exhibits described in the museum can actually be viewed, such as the ‘cosmic map’ from ancient Mesopotamia. 

This ‘cosmic map’ explains the Babylonian view of the mythological world and is part of the mystery that surrounds Sage’s quest. In fact, this tablet isn’t much to look at – you might miss it if you’re in a rush as it is not much more than ten centimetres tall. But it does contain an interesting cuneiform inscription and a unique map of the Mesopotamian world and the places shown on the map are in approximately the correct positions. Despite giving relatively accurate positioning, it isn’t meant to be geographically accurate,  merely a representation of cosmic geography, a representation of a mythical world.

So what key does it hold to Sage’s future? If you’re interested in horoscopes, the Zodiac and astronomy, take a look at some of the exhibits at the British Museum, especially in the areas featuring artefacts from ancient Mesopotamia…

It is here that Sage first meets the young, enigmatic and alluring archaeologist (move over Indiana Jones), St. John Rivers. It is a meeting that will have surprising ramifications for Sage and, in turn, for humankind…

“It was because I was so transfixed with my find that I initially failed to notice that I was being scrutinized from across the room. The first I became aware of it was a prickling sensation down my back, the hairs on my neck and arms raised giving me goose bumps. I turned my head round nervously, looking back over my shoulder … He stood at a distance, a young man in his mid-twenties perhaps, taller than average. No mere accident of lighting, his slightly curly locks, the colour of polished brass, formed a halo around a face that was much too beautiful to be called handsome. The only way to describe him was golden.”

But that’s not all that’s featured at the British Museum. 

Sage’s twin sister, Saffron is obsessed with the legend of Tutankhamen’s Curse, the curse of the pharaohs. Of course, no such curse exists, right? But, here’s an interesting fact – in 2004, the British Museum undertook a unique project to unlock the secrets of a 3,000 year old mummy, a priest called Nesperennub, by performing a “virtual unwrapping” using cutting edge CT scanning technology and computer visualisation techniques. So was this part of the legend that spawned The Mummy and its High Priest Imhotep? Fact or fantasy?

Or perhaps if you journey through Rooms 40 and 41, which houses the artefacts from Anglo-Saxon England and one of my favourite exhibits, the Sutton Hoo ship burial, it may remind you of the legends of King Arthur and Merlin, and feel like you wandered onto the set of Game of Thrones.

So next time you venture into the British Museum, you may want to look a little closer … a little deeper… 

Who knows? You too may meet an angel or magician or vampire on a night at the museum with its curious blend of ancient and modern…

SCROLL: KEEPERS OF GENESIS II by DB Nielsen is published on 12th March http://www.dbnielsen.com @db_Nielsen

(All images are provided by DB Nielsen and have been used with her permission)

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