Meeting at the Balawat gates

Published by Tony Quinlan on

Yesterday morning, I managed to meet up with Shawn Callahan of Anecdote who’s over in the UK at the moment. Coffee in the Great Court of the British Museum is always a treat, although the overcast sky outside meant the fabulous roof wasn’t shown to best effect.

Afterwards I sneaked a look at a couple of the objects that features in last year’s A History of the World in a Hundred Objects podcasts on the BBC.

And then popped into one of my favourite galleries – the Mesopotamian era. The blurred picture here is of the fabulous Balawat gates, which I stuck into the children’s novel I wrote a decade ago. (No, never commercially published, although there are about 100 copies circulating among friends and family.) Rather than let it languish, I’ve started putting chapters of the novel, The Phoenix Egg, up here.

The Mesopotamian era fascinates me – although I haven’t read half as much about it as I want. (The bookshelves behind my desk still feature my copies of Ancient Iraq; Mesopotamian Myths; and Gods, Demons and Symbols of Mesopotamia – all of which still feature bookmarks halfway through them…)

My reading – is it something about a science training – mirrors what Dave talks about. If I skim a book, I always fear that I’ll miss some crucial piece of information, so my reading is always every page, every word. I don’t always take them in that way, of course: I read Dante’s Divine Comedy twice in my early twenties in two different translations but can’t honestly say I remember much of Paradise and little more of Purgatory. The Inferno, however, I found much more my thing. I worry what that might mean…