The British Museum will showcase its historic links to the LGBTQ community in a new exhibition featuring relics going back 11,000 years.
At the centre of the show is the Ain Sakhri pebble, the world’s oldest known depiction of a couple of unknown gender having sex. The stone is an 11,000 year old carved calcite pebble which was found in caves near Bethlehem.
The British Museum said the stone possibly depicts gay sex, as the figures portrayed in it are ambiguous.
Other items set to be included in the tour are a bust of Antinous – lover of Roman emperor Hadrian – and a silver cup showing men having sex, which was buried near Jerusalem in the 1st century AD.
From Discobolus to the lesbian lovers Llangollen
The Townley Discobolus, a marble statue of an athlete stooping to throw the discus, will also be included in the tour.
And lesbian scenes are depicted in a pair of chocolate-cups, covers and saucers containing a view of the cottage of the two ‘Ladies of Llangollen’ from the late 1700s.
For the first time ever, the museum has created an on site audio tour solely devoted to LGBTQ histories. Visitors will be able to choose this tour, when visiting the London museum.
It will also send a number of the artefacts on a four-venue tour of England, from September 2018. The show, titled Desire, love, identity: Exploring LGBTQ histories, will tour UK cities including Oxford, Nottingham, Bolton and Norwich.
Fiona Shaw and Simon Russell Beale narrated the audio tour and said people would be surprised by the number of objects in the Museum with LGBTQ connections.
‘Many might even have seen some of them on display without knowing how they relate to queer history’ Beale said.
‘I’m thrilled that thanks to this new audio tour these stories will now take pride of place. Same sex desire has existed in all societies and it is really important that the British Museum is highlighting this. I hope many people stream or download the tour to enjoy on their visit.’