The Daidoumenos of Vaison is a Roman marble statue of an ancient Greek athlete. Found at Vaison, a Roman town in Southern France, this beautiful piece is at the British Museum (because the Louvre refused to buy it for its ‘unreasonable price’!). The statue is a Roman copy of a Greek original in bronze. Just think for a second about how much the Romans learnt from the Greeks… After conquering their lands, they brought back home all their most beautiful artworks and took inspiration from them. Clearly, they couldn’t forget the Daidoumenos, a sculpture by one of the most famous artists of Classical Greece, Polykleitos.

Daidoumenos, Roman copy of a Greek statue
The Daidoumenos, Roman Copy of an Ancient Greek Athelet. British Museum

1. The Representation of Perfection in Greek and Roman Sculpture

The statue portrays an Olympic winner lifting his arms to knot a ribbon around his head. This Daidoumenos (which literally means ‘ribbon wearer’), had just received a ribbon for winning an athletic competition. Of course, the athlete is still naked! And his muscles are contracted as would be normal after a physical contest. A wonderful occasion for Polykleitos! The excellent sculptor could use the nudity and the athletic body of the athlete to improve his ability to portray perfection and beauty. The original statue was made of bronze, a material that more closely represented the tanned and oiled skin of the victor.

Apollo, Roman Copy of a Greek original statue of Apollo
Polykleitos’ experiments on the representation of the human body. Roman copy, Louvre

2. The Idealisation of the Human Figure

But who is this athlete? and what can his portrait tell us of him? Not much… in the 5th century BC Greek sculptors did not aim at real portraiture: statues didn’t need to resemble the physical characteristics of their owners. Instead, artists aimed at the idealisation of the human figure. While a real ancient Greek athlete actually received the Daidoumenos as a gift, the statue represented him as a generic and beautiful victor, whose perfection could inspire all viewers coming across it.

Doryphoros, Roman Copy of a Greek Original
Roman Copy of a Greek original by Polykleitos, depicting a ‘Spear-bearer’. Minneapolis Institute of Art

3. Beauty: the ultimate value of Goodness

Being athletic, beautiful and going to the palaestra (gym), wasn’t less important than going to school or learning about Homer. And Statues of Olympic winners deserved everyone’s attention: the values of Beauty and Goodness were strictly associated. Unfortunately, we can’t know what the athlete behind the image looked like. However, there is something that this statue can tell us about him! he won 3 Olympic games, which is why he received a statue. One-time winners received, other than fame and glory, ‘only’ a ribbon and some oil.

Ancient Greek Athletes at the Gym, 5th century vase
Ancient Greek Athletes Training at the Gym on a 5th cent Vase. British Museum

4. Artistic Achievements of 5th Century Greece

For sure Greek artists of the 5th century achieved unprecedented results, as one can also see from the contemporary Sculptural Program of the Parthenon. But 5th century vase painting is no less impressive! If you like Classical Art and want to learn more about it, try our treasure hunts at the British Museum and at the Louvre! If you’re feeling competitive and want to get a leg up on the other treasure hunters, don’t forget to check our other British Museum blog posts giving away bonus points.

Just a heads up: some of the things in bold might be answers to bonus questions on your Fun & Games Treasure Hunt!

This Blog Post is also available in Italian!

Italian Flag

This post is also available in Italian!

In ancient Greek society people carefully followed the social rules of good behaviour. Women had to be good mothers. Kids and youths went to school, to the gym and were trained to be brave warriors. The elder ones inspired the new generations with their wise advice. And everyone prayed to the gods during the religious festivities. There was a time though, when almost everything was allowed and when social rules of good behaviour could be forgotten: the symposium. Museums are filled with vases showing symposiasts having fun and playing, precisely because the Greeks, like the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, the Chinese and the Anglo-Saxons, often buried their dead with games (or scenes of games), in order to allow them to have fun during their afterlife.

Scene of Symposium in Ancient Greek Society
A slave attends to a vomiting symposiast, 500-470 BC, National Museum of Denmark

1. What a Vase Can tell Us About Ancient Greek Lifestyle

Among the many drinking vessels at the British Museum, there is one of particular interest. It’s a red-figured Stamnos showing Greeks playing a drinking game called ‘Kottabos’ (and is, of course, one of our Fun and Games treasures). During the game, players had to throw dregs of wine at a target. It was a bit like darts, but harder because the dregs had to stick together mid-air before reaching the target. The protagonists of the scene are ephebes, Greek male adolescents training to become soldiers. All ephebes are well dressed (or half-dressed!), sometimes wear ivy-wreaths, and drink and sing, while a girl in a beautiful garment plays the flute.

Glimps of ancient Greeks society in the scene of a vase
Greek Stamnos with symposiasts at the British Museum, 475-425 BC

2. Gender Roles at the Symposium

All the males in the scene were part of the wealthier part of the population. Only the richest and most educated men were allowed to have fun at the symposium, after all. But what was the role of women at the party and in ancient Greece? The girl represented was probably a hetaira (a slave prostitute). Hetairai constituted a social class of their own in ancient Greek society. In their daily life, they were trained to serve as the companions of wealthy men (while their wives were secluded at home).

The role of women in ancient Greece
Hetaira playing Kottabos, 500 BC ca, Getty Villa Collection

3. The Role of Women in Ancient Greek Society

Historians and archaeologists don’t often know much about Greek Women and their stories. For sure we know that Greek men were freer than women. The hard duties of men’s daily life could in fact be eased at their drinking parties, where rules didn’t exist. Some suggest that the hetairai, the women entertaining them during the symposium, were more influential than the women of the upper class. During their training, they were taught philosophy and politics so to be able to converse with all men. While they were, of course, little more than sex slaves, it seems clear from the evidence at our disposal that hetairai did participate in the intellectual life of ancient Greece and that the symposiasts often took them as their personal advisors.

The role of Greek women at the symposium
Drinking cup with naked women folding their garments, The Met

4. A Vase or a Book?

It is incredible how much we can learn from the scene of a vase! Greek vases are almost books, often recounting stories of real life and social behaviour and allowing us to enter the fascinating world of ancient Greek society. For more on Greek art and architecture, read about The Parthenon and don’t forget to check our posts on Egyptian art, giving away other bonus answers, here and here! Are you also in love with Greek art and its hidden messages? Book a hunt at either the British Museum or the Louvre where you’ll find plenty of Greek art! If you liked the saucy theme of this blog post, have a look at the most interesting love stories of the past: Cupid and Psyche, The Ain Sakhri Lovers, Thetis and Peleus, and Priapus.

Just a heads up: some of the things in bold might be answers to bonus questions on your Fun & Games hunt, whose First ever Version in Italian will be on Friday April 3rd at 5.30 pm.

Just a heads up: things in bold might be answers to bonus questions on your Fun & Games hunt!
The First ever Version in Italian will be on Friday April 3rd at 5.30 pm.  
You can also read this blog in Italian here!

Greek Art and Mythology: one of the earliest representations of the Trojan Horse, 750-650 BC 

From sculptures to pottery, from paintings to temples, mythology is a broad topic in ancient Greek art and architecture. The Parthenon architecture, one of the most famous ancient complexes of all times, is a striking example of how the ancient Greeks took inspiration from their classical mythology to make sense of the real world.  

Rise of the Parthenon

This magnificent temple was built after the Persian Wars, when, in the mid 5th century BC. Athens and its leader, Pericles, wanted to show the world that they were strong, and brave. The city had been destroyed several times and the Parthenon architecture could be a symbol of its rebirth. In order to serve Pericles’ nationalistic goal, the Greeks built the temple on top of the Acropolis, where it could be clearly visible by anyone approaching the city. 

The temple honoured Athena, the Goddess of Wisdom and War and patroness of Athens. She is also the protagonist of its key decorations. However, after their outstanding victory over the Persians, the Greeks wanted the Parthenon honor all the Gods of Mount Olympus, not only Athena. Gods and Goddesses occupied the pediments (the big triangles supported by columns on the short sides of the temple). The West Pediment told of the mythological contest between Athena and Poseidon (the God of the Sea) over who would be the ruler of Attica. The victory went to the Virgin Goddess. The East Pediment evoked the story of the birth of Athena before the other divinities gathered to enjoy the event.  

Greek mythology in art on the Parthenon east pediment
The East Pediment of the Parthenon 
Metope of the Parthenon showing Lapith and Centaur in a fight
Metope of the Parthenon showing Lapith and Centaur in a fight

The monstrous enemy

 But mythology could serve a smarter and more useful role. Stories of battles between uncivilised beasts and strong men, could easily be connected to the more recent historical events: the Wars between the barbaric Persians and the heroic Athenians. Any who studied the Greeks knows that they considered the Centaur (a half-man, half-horse beast usually drunken and very loud!) the ‘uncivilised’ par excellence. And so… Greek sculptors used the metopes (the rectangular spaces under the pediments) to represent the mythological fight between the Lapiths (a legendary tribe from Thessaly) and the Centaurs. They crashed the wedding of the Lapith king in order to steal their women. The tale served the ideological goal of the temple perfectly: the centaurs could metaphorically represent the Persians and their bad manners, while the Lapiths, who win the battle in the end, were connected to the superior and civilised Athenians.                                              

The Parthenon today

One cannot but think that the Greeks were real masters of the arts!  They were highly skilled sculptors and architects and with the Parthenon, their iconographic choices often followed precise ideological plans. We can’t know if the Greeks will ever get their most famous sculpture back to Athens, but for now we keep enjoying some of its parts at the British Museum. Want to know more about how the famous ‘Elgin Marbles’ were brought to the English capital? Read the story here! The Parthenon architecture is, of course, a wonderful treasure in our Fun & Games hunt; for more blog posts (and bonus answers) on other Fun & Games treasures check here and here! Feel like you’d like to learn more about Greek Art? Check our Blog post on the Symposium in ancient Greece.

Avviso veloce: alcune delle informazioni in grassetto potrebbero essere risposte a domande bonus nella tua caccia Divertimento e Giochi, la cui Prima Verisione in Italiano, sarà Venerdì 3 Aprile alle 17.30.  

Da sculture e vasi, ad affreschi e templi, la mitologia popola quasi l’intera produzione artistica greca. Il Partenone, uno dei più famosi complessi architettonici di tutti i tempi, rappresenta un lampante esempio di come i Greci si lasciassero ispirare dai propri racconti mitologici per dare un senso al mondo che li circondava. 

Questo magnifico tempio fu costruito alla fine delle Guerre Persiane, quando, alla metà del V secolo AC, Atene e il suo leader, Pericle, desideravano mostrare al mondo di essere una popolazione forte ed eroica. La città era stata distrutta diverse volte nei decenni precedenti e il Partenone e i suoi rilievi potevano di certo essere un simbolo della sua rinascita. Per servire gli obiettivi nazionalistici di Pericle, i Greci posizionarono il tempio in cima all’Acropoli di modo che fosse chiaramente visibile. Il Tempio celebrava Atena, Dea della Saggezza e della Guerra, e protettrice della città, che, in effetti, è la protagonista delle sue decorazioni architettoniche. I Greci, però, dopo la loro grandiosa vittoria sui Persiani, volevano ringraziare tutti gli abitanti del Monte Olimpo per il loro supporto durante le Guerre, e non soltanto Atena. Non dovrebbe dunque sorprenderci se Dei e Dee occupano i frontoni (i grandi triangoli sostenuti dalle colonne ad entrambi i lati corti del tempio): il Frontone Ovest raccontava della sfida mitologica tra Atena e Poseidone (il Dio del mare), in lite per chi di loro potesse governare sull’Attica, e della vittoria della Dea; il Frontone Est, invece, mostrava il racconto della nascita di Atena al cospetto di altre divintà riunite per assistere all’evento. 

La mitologia, però, poteva servire un compito ancora più intelligente e sofisticato: racconti di combattimenti tra bestie incivili ed uomini coraggiosi, potevano facilmente essere connessi ai recenti eventi storici: le Guerre tra i barbari Persiani e gli eroici Ateniesi. Chi ha studiato i Greci sa che consideravano il centauro (una creatura per metà uomo e per metà cavallo, solitamente ubriaca e molto rumorosa!) la personificazione dell’ ‘inciviltà’ per eccellenza. E così… I migliori scultori Greci utilizzarono le metope (spazi rettangolari sotto i frontoni) per rappresentare il combattimento mitologico tra i Lapiti (una tribù leggendaria della Tessalonia) e i Centauri, che fecero irruzione al Matrimonio del re dei Lapiti per rubarne le donne. Il racconto serviva l’obiettivo ideologico del tempio perfettamente: i centauri rappresentavano metaforicamente i Persiani e le loro cattive maniere, mentre i Lapiti, che alla fine vincono la battaglia, richiamavano al coraggio dei civilizzati Ateniesi. 

Non possiamo che affermare che i Greci erano veri maestri delle arti! Non solo erano abili scultori e architetti ma, come nel caso del Partenone, le loro scelte iconografiche spesso seguivano dei sofisticati piani ideologici. Se hai voglia di leggere di uno dei più famosi artisti greci di tutti i tempi, Policleto, clicca qui! Non possiamo sapere se i Greci riusciranno mai a riportare a casa il loro amato tempio, ma per adesso noi continuiamo a godercelo al British Museum. Vuoi sapere di come i famosi ‘Marmi di Elgin’ furono portati nella capitale inglese? Dai un’occhiata qui! Il Partenone è, ovviamente, un meraviglioso tesoro della nostra Caccia a tema Divertimento e Giochi! Per qualche altro posts (e risposte a domande bonus) su altri tesori della Caccia Divertimento e Giochi, leggi qui qui! Vuoi saperne di più della Grecia antica? Dai un’occhiata al nostro post sul cosa un vaso Greco può dirci del Simposio!

Introducing our London KidPack!

We are very excited to announce the arrival of our new London KidPack! Joining our ever-successful Paris KidPack, it is full of fun activities, puzzles and creative fun. Add one as a bonus after a family treasure hunt at any of our three London museums, and keep the discovery going!

Learn how to write in Egyptian hieroglyphics with the Rosetta Stone, decorate your own Sutton Hoo Helmet with Norse warriors and gods and spot the differences with Shiva; Destroyer and Lord of the Dance!

We’re rolling it out this winter to celebrate our Public Easter Hunts in London. Discover a unique Easter Egg hunt at the Natural History Museum and search for eggs from creatures great and small, from Dinosaurs to platypuses on Sat 28th March. Can you beat our tricera-top score?! 
Or celebrate a world of festivities at the V&A on Sat 11th April. Don your Easter bonnet to hunt for Britain’s burning Guy Fawkes and treasures of China’s Lunar New Year.  

Young girl posing as Degas's ballet dancer sculpture at musee d'orsay

Keep an eye out on our blog, the first Tuesday of every month for our THATKid Tuesdays project. Each day we’ll reveal another KidPack page and use it to learn about art history and the museum collections!

Find all our Public hunts at Eventbrite or book a hunt at any of our five museums across London and Paris including the Louvre, Musee d’Orsay and British Museum, and coming soon in FLORENCE!  

Marble statue of Cupid from British Museum collection

Our final Love Hunt Blog before Valentine’s Day is all about its chubby little mascot: Cupid. Check out the whole series here, here and here!
However our little cherub has a much more storied past, before he was reduced to selling cards and chocolates.

Originally Eros in Greek, the God of Love, in some versions he is one of the oldest forces in the universe, predated only by Chaos and Gaia (Earth).
Most commonly though the Romans knew little Cupid as the son of Venus, Goddess of beauty. Her husband was Vulcan, but Cupid’s father is Mars, God of War, naughty! (This might be useful on your hunt!)
The winged archer is a symbol of how flighty love makes us, and he carries a bow because love wounds us from afar. He is also sometimes depicted as blind, to show how love is indiscriminate and makes us blind to all else.

You might also find him riding dolphins on fountains and other classical architecture. Though clearly many Roman artists had clearly never seen an actual dolphin before ever in their lives.

Painting of Cupid riding a fish like creature that looks nothing like a real dolphin
A classic dolphin…

Meeting Psyche

But Cupid of course could not avoid being struck by one of his own arrows. Eventually even the God of Love finds himself deeply in love with a mortal called Psyche. Psyche originally meant ‘soul’ or ‘breath of life’, rather than mind in the original Greek. She was a mortal of great beauty hated by Venus for stealing worship and attention away from her. Venus send her son to make Psyche fall in love with something hideous but poor Cupid scratches himself with an arrow and instead falls deeply in love with her. He spirits her away to his villa in secret, so everyone will believe she is in love with a monster like his spiteful mother wanted.

Giuseppe Maria Crespi painting of Psyche discovering cupid's true form, from Uffizi gallery in Florence
A tale as old as time…

In the ‘Beast’s’ castle Psyche is entertained by songs, and dinners that serve themselves as she slowly starts to fall for the mysterious beast she never sees… Sound familiar? (Be our guest, be our guest… what’s the story? Have you guessed?) Until one night she sneaks into Cupid’s room as he sleeps. She is so startled by his beauty, that she stumbles into his nearby arrows and falls head over heels for him too!

Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss neoclassical marble sculpture by Antonio Canova in the Louvre Museum
Find this beautiful piece on a Louvre THATMuse hunt

After some brief torturous quests to the Underworld to placate Venus, her jealous mother-in-law, Psyche is given ambrosia by Zeus, king of the gods. This makes her immortal and Cupid and Psyche live happily ever after! Their wedding feast was second only to Thetis and Peleus, also found in our Love hunt!

The Wedding Banquet of Cupid and Psyche (1517) by Raphael ceiling fresco lively party scene

Love Hunt: The Ain Sakhri Lovers

Today for our third Love Hunt blog we have a very special object. The oldest and most mysterious object on our Love Hunt: The Ain Sakhri Lovers. Possibly the oldest porn in the world! 

The Ain Sakhri Lovers from the British Museum Collection. Small sandstone sculpture of two figures intertwined.

This statue is the oldest known representation in the world of two people making love. Discovered in the Ain Sakhri caves near Bethlehem, it dates back around 11,000 years. At this time, humans were only just learning how to move from hunter-gathering to farming. The Natufian people of the Middle East who made this sculpture we’re some of the first to begin to domesticate sheep and goats, alongside their hunting dogs for catching deer.  

Now animal husbandry and breeding means you’ve worked out what men are for in the job of creating new life. So this phallic looking little figure could have been a ritual object, related to a fertility god or goddess. Maybe a divine talisman aimed at helping their fledgling civilization be fruitful and multiply? Or it could just be someone carving themselves a little saucy bit of fun! 

Studying the human form

views of the Ain Sakhri lovers sculpture from all four sides, top and bottom

It shows two figures sat facing and with their legs wrapped around each other, one on top of the other. It is impossible to work out the figures’ genders though. We have no idea if it shows a man and woman in the act of reproduction or two men celebrating all things Priapic. Because whatever way you look at the statue, it seems to have been designed to look phallic in some way. Artist Marc Quinn wrote about this piece for the BBC’s Around the World in 100 Objects programme and noted that from every direction you can read the overall image as some kind of reproductive organ. I will leave it up to your imaginations to see what you can see! 

Thetis and Peleus – Wedding of the Ages 

Welcome to our second Love Hunt blog (see the first here). Read up on the sauciest stories from antiquity and get yourselves some bonus points!

Welcome to the tale of the grandest wedding of the Greek world. Maybe not the loveliest wedding but definitely the most eventful. Full of drama, scandal and family feuds, like all good weddings! 

Painting of Thetis and Peleus's wedding feast by Joachim Wtewael. A busy scene of celebration and debauchery.
Love an outdoor wedding

Thetis was a Sea Nymph admired by Zeus and Poseidon (Remember this for bonus points!) until they discover a prophesy. Her son will be greater than his father. So they decide to marry her off to a mortal, to avoid any danger. They did kill their dad after all!

Thetis changing into a lioness as she is attacked by Peleus, Attic red-figured kylix by Douris, c. 490 BC from Vulci, Etruria - Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.
Clingy boyfriends are the worst. Turn into a lion.

They choose to marry her off to Peleus, a mortal king, to that great son will be mortal and no threat to the Gods. Peleus tracks Thetis down and tries to shake him off by transforming into a lioness, serpent, fire and water but he’s a clingy guy and won’t give up easily. Eventually Thetis surrenders and agrees to the wedding. 

Zeus throws a huge feast to celebrate, and all the gods are invited. All except one. Eris, the Godess of Discord is not invited. Don’t we all have that one family member who always causes trouble everywhere they go? But of course, rather than stay away, Eris does what she does best and causes havoc. She crashes the wedding and throws a gift out ‘to the fairest’ goddess at the party. Hera, queen of the gods, Athena, Goddess of wisdom and war and Aphrodite, Goddess of Love and beauty all believe themselves the fairest of them all, so Zeus makes a mortal prince, Paris, pick which goddess is the most beautiful.
Sound like a good idea? Having the best man publicly announce the hottest bridesmaid? 

Paris offers a golden apple to Venus, angering Minerva and Juno. Painting by Peter Paul Reubens from British National Gallery
They’re all beautiful Paris, this is a bad idea.

What follows is everyone is so furious at the outcome, the Trojan war begins and all hell breaks loose. Pretty good drama for just one wedding. Maybe the moral is better to invite a little discord than have a lot turn up uninvited? 

The Sophilos Dinos, Black-figured red attic bowl and stand, signed by Sophilos as painter. Showing scenes leading up to the Trojan War.

Regardless, Thetis doesn’t have to stick with clingy Peleus once the war starts. She has her amazing son, Achilles, hero of the Trojan war! You can discover all about Thetis, Achilles and the Trojan war at the British Museum until 8th March 2020 in their Troy exhibition, containing one of our favourite treasures from our Fun and Games and Love Hunts, the Sopholos Dinos! 

Find out more about the most dramatic couples in history and myth, like the Ain Sakhri Lovers, and Cupid and Psyche.

Love Hunt: Priapus

Welcome to our new blog series, highlighting the great treasures in our British Museum Love Hunt. Discover some of the most famous lovers in history: Thetis and Peleus, The Ain Sakhri Lovers and Cupid and Psyche. This upright fellow has become a bit of a mascot for our Love Hunt at the British Museum. This…ahem, impressive piece has a hilarious and surprisingly stories history behind it. 

Metal figure with a large erect phallus with bells hanging off. A tintinnabulum depicting Priapus from the British Museum
The Priapus tintinnabulum in the British Museum

Priapus seems to have originated as a minor greek god in Asia Minor, the then greek controlled west coast of modern day turkey, and been particularly worshipped around the city of Lampascus. He was seen as a nature god and protector of farms, associated with an abundance of fruit, vegetables and livestock. The Greek historian Pausanius writes: 

This god is worshipped where goats and sheep pasture or there are swarms of bees; but by the people of Lampsacus he is more revered than any other god, being called by them a son of Dionysus and Aphrodite. 

However being the son of the gods of wine and love does not seem to have helped poor Priapus. I’m sure many of us have had our share of misfortunes mixing love and wine, but Priapus was cursed for his parents’ indiscretions to be forever saddled with a giant… well we now call it a priapus after the god himself, but if you’re not a classics scholar you probably call it an erection (It’s ok, you can admit that’s the first thing you noticed!) But sadly this was not much use to the god as the curse meant that it was always useless right when he needed it most! 

A greek painting of Priapus with a comically large phallus

Comedy or Tragedy?

City dwellers in Athens and later Rome don’t seem to have respected the nature god and his powers of fertility as much as the countrysiders and Priapus becomes a bit of a joke through the centuries, starting with Xenarchus writing a comedy play called Priapus in the 4th Cetury BC. Even iconic poets like Ovid and Chaucer have joked about powerless Priapus! 

A winged phallic tintinnabulum hung with many bells, to be hung as an amulet over a doorway

However our one from the British Museum collection has been well hung with little bells to create a tintinnabulum. These were suspended, like wind chimes or a mobile, above doorways as a good luck charm. This one is Roman however, not Greek so Priapus has been combined with Mercury, protector of boundaries, to guard your doorway. It was thought the sound of bells and the image of the penis kept evil spirits at bay. Of course, the bigger the better so Priapus finally found his time to shine, fighting off evil. Would you like to protect your home from the evil eye by hanging these by your front door? What would the neighbours say?!

Book a Love Hunt at the British Museum, or the Louvre for you next party or team buillding event!

Give the gift of treasure hunting!

Looking for a special gift for a special person? Have friends or family going to London or Paris at Easter, this summer or who may live there? Why not offer up a museum treasure hunt, making explorers of them for some maverick museum fun!

All of our Treasure Hunts are now available for purchase as Gift Certificates!

Simply send us a message on our Contact Us page. If you provide us with the information needed (The museum if decided, names of the gift giver & recipient, a message and of course their email address), we will put together an email for you or us to send them all they need to set up their THATMuse! We do not send out physical certificates, as we have had trouble with them reliably arriving to the intended in good condition or at all…  

· Gift Certificates are valid for up to six people. 

· We require at least 48 hours’ notice.

· The gift certificate has a three month expiry from the date of purchase, and it is the recipient’s responsibility to get in touch with THATMuse to book a specific date and time.  Specific dates and times are subject to availability. It is best to request a range of dates/times to find one that best suits our availability and the recipient’s choice.  


– A Luxe hunt for families of 6 or fewer (if families are smaller they are welcomed to invite friends to consist of a 6-person booking) costs £300/3 hours. This covers the organisation & materials (team packs with clipboards, the hunts, highlighted maps, pencils, as well of course as weighty medals for the winning team and teasing poke prizes for the 2nd place team). During the 3 hours the THATMuse Rep briefs teams on the hunt, shows them how to strategize and orients them to the museum’s layout; whilst playing we prowl about after them to spot check no cheating and maybe throw help on bonus questions. Then we all regroup for score tallying and prize-giving (which can be organized at a nearby café/pub or within the museum depending on client plans).   

– A budget version also exists where you are not met at the end of the hunt. 

SECURING YOUR BOOKING: When everything’s been set, we’ll send you an invoice payable by credit card online. Please note, no booking is secured until we’ve received this payment. Upon Payment we will send you our finished Gift Certificate to the recipient, with you in copy. Alternatively, if you prefer to give the gift in person, we can send you the PDF of the Gift Certificate to print and let them contact us with a set of proposed dates.  

Napoleon courtyard of the Louvre museum at night time, with Ieoh Ming Pei’s pyramid in the middle.


Your first task will be to find our meeting point within the British Museum’s Great Court lobby. If entering the museum from the main entrance on Great Russell St, the circular Information Desk is to the right (within the Great Court); we’ll meet behind the Info Desk, at the Roman equestrian prince statue (photo herewith). Your THATBrit Rep will have a white canvas THATMuse tote.

treasure hunters posing as egyptians in front of roman equestrian statue in the British Museum's great court


Please be sure to have freshly charged batteries in your phone or camera. Please visit the cloak room &/or toilet before our meeting time.


  1. Navigator (good with a map)
  2. Scribe (who’s got the best penmanship?)
  3. Reader (the lawyerly type who’ll catch bonus questions embedded in the treasure text)
  4. Organiser (who’ll keep an eye on the clock and make sure you’re in order) and of course the photographer. Some of these roles can overlap, of course.


Photo your team in front of as many pieces of THATBrit Treasures as possible within the given amount of time (90 mins to 2 hrs.)
With each treasure photo you’ll earn 20 game points (about 500 game points), however, with careful reading you could pick more than 1000 bonus THATMuse points. There are several ways to do this. Our bonus questions fall into three key categories:

– Scrutiny (looking more carefully at the piece or surrounding rooms)
– Silliness (willing to trot like a Tang horse for bonus points?)  
– Knowledge (All of these questions can be answered within another piece of treasure text, within the hunt) 

There is also an artistic challenge & Letter Scramble spelling out your prize treasure with THATMuse Letters embedded in the text, both worth 100 bonus THATMuse points! We’ve intentionally provided more treasure text & fun than you could read about within the given time in the hope that you’ll want to return or extend your visit (& to ensure strategy!)

THATMuse is entirely independent of the British Museum as such, we unfortunately have no control of rooms they close off (which changes within the day)


(in addition to photographing your team in front of as many pieces of treasure as possible)

  1. Teams must stay together at all times, must not run, jump or shout.
  2. No external help… If seen speaking to a tourist-in-the-know or BM staff you’re automatically eliminated; Likewise, no googling the Mesopotamians, no GPS-ing where the Greeks are, or anything other than your hunt & map… No phoning your Egyptologist Aunt for help, either!
  3. Please be sure you have one (1) Master Copy with all the answers and only use one (1) camera/phone (to facilitate score tallying). In respect to Museum policy please mute your phones & no flash photography.
  4. Must meet back at starting point (X on your map) at the precise time agreed. Each minute late merits 10 negative points, per minute (!!) There are sometimes strategical reasons to be late, but attention (!!): if you’re more than 10 mins late you’re ousted!

For small doses of Museum/Art Trivia, tune in (share or contribute your own!) to Twitter (@THAT_Muse_) and FB page for daily posted #THATMuseFacts! Or just follow us to see fun #THATMuse hunting snaps!


black statue of lion headed Egyptian goddess sekhmet at the Louvre
Sekhmet at the Louvre

Sekhmet was a fierce warrior goddess, protector of the pharaohs and daughter of the sun god Ra. She was the goddess of destruction and purging, and was worshipped in Memphis as ‘the destroyer’. Her name means, “the (one who is) powerful or mighty” but her nicknames include “(One) Before Whom Evil Trembles”, “Mistress of Dread”, “Lady of Slaughter” and “She Who Mauls”–sounds like a friendly lady. Pretty awesome nicknames, huh? Might be a good source of inspiration for coming up with your next THATMuse team name, right?  

She’s often depicted as half woman/half lioness (Incidentally, can you think of any other gods and goddesses who also have animal features, perhaps featured on the THATMuse blog? Hint: his name begins with an H and he has the head of a hawk).  Sekhmet was closely associated with the desert, and therefore often shown with a sun disk on her head.  

four statues of sekhmet in room 4 British Museum wearing sun disk headdress.
Statues of Sekhmet in Room 4, British Museum

In one myth, she was sent to earth to destroy her dad’s, Ra, enemies but she grew so bloodthirsty she almost killed off everyone—to stop her, Ra poured out a mass amount of beer stained red (with pomegranate juice) tricking Sekhmet into thinking it was blood. She drank so much of the red beer and became so drunk that she gave up killing people and went back sleepily and peacefully to Ra. When she awoke from her drunken stupor, the first thing she saw was Ptah—the god of creation, and fell instantly in love with him.  

Egyptian papyrus with hieroglyphs and images of gods
Can you spot Sekhmet with her Sun disk headdress? How many other gods can you name?

Every year there was a festival to honor Sekhmet, where Egyptians would get completely black-out drunk to imitate her. (Is it just me, or does this festival sound like a good excuse to throw a party?) Mankind also had to constantly appease her with offerings to abate her wrath. Egyptologists think that Amenhotep III built a temple with over 700 statues to her so that people could honor her every day of the year with a different statue. Hence part of the reason why statues of her abound: say hello to this bloodthirsty babe at the Louvre and the British Museum, and also at the Met and the Vatican (Don’t THATMet or THATVat have a ring to them?!)