The museum's collection covers a vast expanse of time from the earliest times to the present day, including the history of Britain under Roman occupation.

The Roman empire was so large that five departments of the British Museum hold art and artefacts from it. Prehistory and Europe holds material from Roman Britain, and the whole empire after the fourth century. Ancient Egypt and Sudan has evocative mummy portraits, while Middle East has stone portraits from the city of Palmyra. Coins and Medals holds an extensive collection of Roman coins. Greece and Rome holds material from Rome’s Mediterranean heartland, in particular from Italy, Greece, Turkey and Libya.

The centuries 300–1100 C.E. witnessed great change in Europe. The Roman Empire broke down in the west, but continued as the Byzantine Empire in the east. People, objects and ideas travelled across the continent, while Christianity and Islam emerged as major religions. By 1100, the precursors of several modern states had developed. Europe as we know it today was taking shape. Europe as we know it today was taking shape.