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This blog is a behind the scenes look at the Roman Baths in Bath. We hope you enjoy reading our stories about life surrounding the Roman Baths.

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

Civilisations: A Display of Belief

'Civilisations’ is a new series on BBC 2 spanning 31 countries and looking at humanity’s desire to create. Each episode covers a different theme, ranging from how people in the past depicted themselves through art, to how different faiths are represented through art and objects.

The Belief display case
As part of the Civilisations festival, I put together a display case in the Sun Lounge based on belief systems in past societies and how they are represented through the objects in our collection. I wanted to try and represent as many different countries across the world using interesting objects, just like the Civilisations programme.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines ‘belief’ as the trust, faith, or confidence in someone or something.

Replica Iron Age spoons

I chose to display the Iron Age spoons as they are somewhat of a mystery, but incredibly interesting. They are made in a style unique to Britain and Ireland, formed from a single sheet of metal, with one spoon bearing a large cross and the other a small hole on the right side. Liquid may have been poured onto one spoon and dripped through the hole onto the other spoon during rituals. Little is known about belief systems in the Iron Age, but it is believed that a lot of the ritual practices revolved around offerings and sacrifices to the gods.

One of my favourite aspects of the display case is the two images of Haile Selassie at The Roman Baths in 1936. Haile Selassie was Ethiopia’s Emperor from 1930-1974. He was worshipped as god incarnate among followers of the Rastafari movement which developed in the 1930’s.

Haile Selassie visiting the Roman Baths in 1936

Rastafarians believe that they are the chosen people of God, but that colonisation and the slave trade has led to their role being supressed. Haile Selassie was not part of the religion himself but people still believed him to be god incarnate. They believe in the ritual inhalation of marijuana and the religious ceremonies consist of chanting, drumming and meditating in order to increase their spiritual awareness and reach a state of heightened spirituality.

There are many other interesting and important artefacts from our collection which represent different belief systems in past civilisations. If you want to find out more, you can see this display for free in the Sun Lounge!

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