Ancient treasures at the National Museum

Whether you’re an Indiana Jones fan or simply looking for something new, the latest artefacts now on display at National Museum Cardiff will have the culture vulture in you satisfied. 

The National Museum Cardiff where the ancient treasures are currently on display.
The National Museum Cardiff where the ancient treasures are currently on display.

Unlike Indiana Jones, the most famous archaeologist who never existed, William Petrie wasn’t much of a smooth operative. The British-born, also known as Father of Egyptian Archaeology, didn’t like people as they often hacked away at his precious ancient monuments. So he found a novel solution to ward them away: he started working on the historical sites in his underwear.

Thirteenth century aquamanile in the form of a stag ©National Museum of Wales

Real-life stories like Petrie’s and many more are now a part of National Museum Cardiff as a part of the ongoing ‘Treasures: Adventures in Archaeology’ exhibition. The display was started on January 26 and will go on till October in a year that is promoted as the ‘Year of Adventure’.

The crystal skull also used in Indiana Jone’s Kingdom of Crystals. © Musee du Quai Branly/Patrick Gries, Valerie Torre

The exhibition covers ground from ancient Egypt and Greece to pre-Colombian America, Easter Island and closer home, Wales. For those who don’t fancy a dekko still, there’s more bait: the exhibition also features Harrison Ford’s leather jacket, whip, hat and a crystal skulls used in the ‘Kingdom of Crystal Skull’ from the Indiana Jones franchise.

Indiana Jones' jacket, whip, and hat
Indiana Jones’ jacket, whip, and hat © Collection Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and TM 2015 Lucasfilm, Ltd

“We are trying to go beyond the conventional ideas of treasures i.e. beyond the gold and silver, to the treasure of knowledge,” said Dr. Mark Redknap, the head of collection and research in the department of history and archaeology, also the principal curator. But for those wanting to stick the conventions, there is plenty of gold relics and jewellery from the past on display.

Since it features more than 50 artefacts – from an Egyptian mummy to Greek battle armour – and has been made possible in association with museums from around the UK and US, there will be an entry fee charged.

Mr. Redknap revealed that it cost the museum upwards of £100,000 and more than a year to put the exhibition together.

“This time, we hope to reach out to a new audience consisting of families. We want to introduce them to the excitement of archaeology and archaeological adventures they may not have had before,” added Mr. Redknap.

Entry fee: £7 for adults, £5 for concessions, free for those below the age of 16.