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Publishers of award-winning illustrated books on art, history, archaeology, world cultures and more.

Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam

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This week millions of Muslims will begin their journeys home from Saudi Arabia after Hajj, the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, and the following celebrations of Eid-al-Adha draw to a close.  One of the five pillars of Islam central to Muslim belief, every year the Hajj pilgrimage draws millions of Muslims from around the world to the birthplace of the Prophet Muhammad -the holiest site in Islam. It is a ritual journey that every Muslim who is physically and financially able must make at least once in their lifetime.

We’ve had a special interest in Hajj this year as we are busy working on our next exhibition catalogue, Hajj: journey to the heart of Islam. Publishing to accompany a major British Museum exhibition of the same name (26 January -  15 April 2012)  the catalogue will trace the footsteps and personal experiences of pilgrims who have embarked on Hajj across the centuries, taking the reader on a physical and spiritual journey. The book won’t be released until January next year, but read the rest of this entry for some exclusive preview images of some of our favourite spreads, or visit the British Museum shop online now to preorder your copy.

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Women in the Ancient World

Yesterday saw Forbes announce their annual list of the  World’s 100 Most Powerful Women with Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and Dilma Rouseff topping a list that includes politicians, CEOs, bankers, cultural icons, billionaires and entrepreneurs.

This inspiring reminder of the achievements of women in modern day society was closely followed by the arrival of our forthcoming title Women in the Ancient World (available from 26 September), offering us an alternative roll-call of women whose lives and roles went far beyond the traditional view of a ‘woman’s work’;  here are Drusilla, the first Roman woman to be recognized as a goddess;  Hatsheput, who bolstered her authority as Queen of Egypt by boldly adopting a male persona; Hypatia of Alexandria, an admired philosopher; and Sappho, one of the most famous musicians in antiquity.

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Juxtaposing these  public figures with themes such as domestic life, motherhood, stereotypes and depictions of the female body, Women in the Ancient World explores the different traditions, trends and attitudes towards women in ancient Greece, Rome, Egypt and the Near East, as well as revealing some surprising resonances with our own time.

Read the rest of this entry for some of our favourite images from the book:

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Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure

Professor Munakata's British Museum Adventure

Here’s a sneak preview of the cover artwork for our upcoming manga, Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure.

Due out in October, Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure is the first ever manga published by the British Museum Press and the result of a great collaboration between the Museum and leading Japanese artist, Hoshino Yukinobu.

The story revolves around Hoshino sensei’s most famous character, Japanese ethnologist Professor Munakata Tadakusu who has dedicated his life to unravelling the mysteries of Japan’s past.  When the Professor travels to Britain for the first time to deliver a special lecture at the British Museum he is quickly and unexpectedly drawn into a criminal plot that endangers the museum and its famous collections. The threats appear to stem from repatriation claims – but do they? And who is demanding the objects’ return?

Professor Munakata eventually uncovers a conspiracy embedded in the very heart of the museum-  but that is all we can say for  now, for the full story you will have to read the book!

Professor Munakata’s British Museum Adventure will be available from the British Museum shop from 26th October 2011. For more information visit the British Museum Press webpage.

Power Games: Ritual and Rivalry at the Ancient Greek Olympics

Look up the sky tonight and you should see the August full moon: a lunar event that has resonated throughout history. Next year this mysterious night will fall right in the middle of  the London 2012 Olympic Games and we’ve asked David Stuttard, author of our forthcoming title Power Games, to explain why this is more than just coincidence.

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For over a millennium, the August full moon marked the focal point of the four-yearly Festival which included the Olympic Games. To many Ancient Greeks the moon was a goddess, so the full moon had especial power. Like our Easter, the timing of the Olympic Festival was closely linked to the movement of the heavenly bodies – and, although we do not know exactly how the date was calculated, it seems to have coincided with the second or third full moon after the summer solstice, thus associating it with important dates in both the lunar and solar calendars.

The Greeks’ days began at sunset, and the central ‘day’ of the Olympics, when the moon was full, was spent in evening banqueting, morning sacrifices, and a few races in the afternoon. For the ancient Olympics were not just about athletics. They were part of ancient religious observations, where ritual was just as important as the sport – perhaps even more so. In 2012 the Olympic full moon is on 2nd August – but, although contestants in beach volley-ball, table-tennis or cycling events might take encouragement from the auspicious date, of all that day’s contestants, only the boxers can boast a truly ancient Olympic pedigree.

Power Games: Ritual and Rivalry at the Ancient Olympic Games will be publishing on 7 November 2011. ‘Read the rest of this entry’ for an extract from Chapter Four -  ‘the full moon chapter’

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Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman

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Here’s a sneak preview of our forthcoming exhibition catalogue Grayson Perry: The Tomb of Unknown Craftsman (publishing on the 3rd October).

Turner Prize-winning artist Grayson Perry will be curating an installation of his new works alongside objects from the British Museum’s collection this autumn. To accompany the exhibition we will be publishing this beautiful catalogue; written by the artist and including over 200 colour illustrations.

Offering an insight into the artist’s fantastic imaginative world, the book draws on themes such as pilgrimage, transvestitism, shamanism and tomb guardians to take the reader on a journey to an imaginary afterlife….

Be one of the first to own a copy – pre-order yours now through the British Museum shop .

Find out more and book your tickets for the special exhibition Grayson Perry: The Tomb of the Unknown Craftsman (6 October 2011 – 19 February 2012) now at britishmuseum.org/graysonperry

Ritual and Honour: Warriors of the North American Plains

We’d like to introduce you to Kevin Haywahe.

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Kevin is an Assiniboine dancer who features in our new release Ritual and Honour: Warriors of the North American Plains.

Author and British Museum curator Max Carocci has been conducting research with Plains Indians since 1989 and in this beautifully illustrated book he explores the world of Native North American warfare and ritual. Through exceptional examples of feather headdresses, mocassins, painted hides, pipes and tomahawks, Ritual and Honour reveals the ceremonial, spiritual and political lives of the warriors of the North American Plains.

‘Read the rest of this entry’ for some more preview images from the book or visit the British Museum shop to find out more.

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