Cover image of A History of the World in 100 Objects
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Rank #50 in History category

History

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Updated 6 days ago

Rank #50 in History category

History
Read more

Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates 100 programmes that retell humanity's history through the objects we have made

Read more

Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates 100 programmes that retell humanity's history through the objects we have made

iTunes Ratings

850 Ratings
Average Ratings
599
110
64
41
36

awesome

By researcher-good apps - Sep 09 2019
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i’m really enjoying these story like histories❤️❤️❤️❤️ short and useful👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼 even very helpful for learning english 👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻

My first

By Danermal - Jul 18 2018
Read more
This is the first podcast I ever fell in love with.

iTunes Ratings

850 Ratings
Average Ratings
599
110
64
41
36

awesome

By researcher-good apps - Sep 09 2019
Read more
i’m really enjoying these story like histories❤️❤️❤️❤️ short and useful👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼👌🏼 even very helpful for learning english 👌🏻👌🏻👌🏻

My first

By Danermal - Jul 18 2018
Read more
This is the first podcast I ever fell in love with.

Listen to:

Cover image of A History of the World in 100 Objects

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Updated 6 days ago

Read more

Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, narrates 100 programmes that retell humanity's history through the objects we have made

Olduvai Handaxe

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The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of human development from the first stone axe to the credit card, using 100 selected objects from the Museum.

Neil follows early humans as they slowly begin to move beyond their African homeland, taking with them one essential item - a hand axe. In the presence of the most widely-used tool humans have created, Neil sees just how vital to our evolution this sharp, ingenious implement was and how it allowed the spread of humans across the globe.

Including contributions from designer Sir James Dyson and archaeologist Nick Ashton.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jan 20 2010

13mins

Play

Swimming Reindeer

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The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of human development from the first stone axe to the credit card, using 100 selected objects from the Museum.

Found in France and dating back 13,000 years, this is a carving of two swimming reindeer - and it's not just the likeness that is striking. The creator of this carving was one of the first humans to express their world through art. But why did they do it?

Neil tells the story of the Swimming Reindeer and its place in the history of art and religion with contributions from the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and archaelogist Professor Steven Mithen.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jan 21 2010

13mins

Play

Early Victorian tea set

Podcast cover
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This week Neil MacGregor's history of the world is looking at how the global economy became cemented in the 19th century, a time of mass production and mass consumption. He tells the story of how tea became the defining national drink in Britain - why have we become so closely associated with a brew made from leaves mainly grown in China and India? The object he has chosen to reflect this curious history is an early Victorian tea set, made in Staffordshire and perfectly familiar to all of us. The historian Celina Fox and Monique Simmonds from Kew gardens find new meaning in the ubiquitous cuppa.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 12 2010

14mins

Play

Rosetta Stone

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Today's programme finds Neil MacGregor in the company of one of the best known inhabitants of the British Museum - the Rosetta Stone. Throughout this week he is exploring shifting empires and the rise of legendary rulers around the world over 2000 years ago and here he takes us to the Egypt of Ptolemy V. He tells the story of the Greek kings who ruled in Alexandria. He also explains the struggle between the British and the French over the Middle East and their squabble over the stone. And, of course, he describes the astonishing contest that led to the most famous decipherment in history - the cracking of the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone. Historian Dorothy Thompson and the writer Ahdaf Soueif help untangle the tale.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

May 19 2010

14mins

Play

Clovis Spear Point

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The Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of human development from the first stone axe to the credit card, using 100 selected objects from the Museum.

Neil describes an object that dates from the earliest settlement of North America, around 13,000 years ago. It is a deadly hunting weapon, used by the first inhabitants of the Americas.

This sharp spearhead helps us understand how humans spread across the globe. By 11,000 BC humans had moved from north-east Asia into the uninhabited wilderness of north America; within 2,000 years they had populated the whole continent. How did these hunters live, and how does their Asian origin sit with the creation stories of modern-day Native Americans?

Including contributions from Michael Palin and American archaeologist Gary Haynes.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jan 22 2010

13mins

Play

Pieces of eight

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Neil MacGregor's world history as told through things that time has left behind. This week he is exploring the world between 1450 and 1600 - looking at what was happening in South America, Africa and Japan at the time of the great European age of discovery. He has looked at the new ocean going galleons that were being built in Europe at this time and today he describes the money that was being used to fuel the great new trade routes of the period. He is with pieces of eight, little silver coins that by 1600 could have been used in many countries around the world. Neil describes Spain's dominance in South America and their discovery of a silver mountain in Potosi in present day Bolivia. He describes the process by which pieces of eight turned into the first truly global money. The Bolivian former head of a UNESCO project in Potosi describes the conditions for workers there today and the financial historian William Bernstein looks at how these rough silver coins were to shift the entire balance of world commerce.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Sep 24 2010

13mins

Play

Hokusai's The Great Wave

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The history of humanity - as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London - is once again in Japan. This week Neil MacGregor, the museum's director, is looking at the global economy in the 19th century - at mass production and mass consumption. Today he is with an image that rapidly made its way around the world - Hokusai's print, The Great Wave, the now familiar seascape with a snow topped Mount Fuji in the background that became emblematic of the newly emerging Japan. Neil explores the conditions that produced this famous image - with help from Japan watchers Donald Keene and Christine Guth.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 13 2010

13mins

Play

North American buckskin map

Podcast cover
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The history of humanity - as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London - is once again in North America. This week Neil MacGregor, the museum's director, is looking at Europe's engagement with the rest of the world in the 18th century.

Today he tells the story of a map, roughly drawn on deer skin, that was used as the British negotiated for land in the area between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. It was probably drawn up by a Native American around 1774. Neil looks at how the French and the British were in conflict in the region, and examines the different attitudes to land and living between Europeans and Native Americans. Martin Lewis, an expert on maps from this region, and the historian David Edmunds describe the map and the clash of cultures that was played out within its boundaries.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 06 2010

13mins

Play

Chinese Bronze Bell

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Neil MacGregor continues to explore the emergence of sophisticated new powers across the world 2,500 years ago, from the Parthenon in Greece to the great empire of Cyrus in Persia and the forgotten people of the Olmec in Mexico.

In this programme he arrives in China at the time of Confucius. He explores the Confucian view of the world with reference to a large bronze bell, and with help from the writer Isabel Hilton and the percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Confucius believed in a society that worked in harmony. How do his teachings go down in China today?

Feb 26 2010

14mins

Play

Ship's chronometer from HMS Beagle

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Neil MacGregor's history of the world as told through things. Throughout this week he is examining the global economy of the 19th century - of mass production and mass consumption. Today he is with an instrument that first helped Europeans to navigate with precision around the world - a marine chronometer. The one Neil has chosen actually accompanied Darwin on his great voyage to South America and the Galapagos Islands - a journey that was to help lead him to his revolutionary theories on evolution.
The geographer Nigel Thrift and the geneticist Steve Jones celebrate the chronometer and the profound changes it prompted.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 11 2010

14mins

Play

Suffragette-defaced penny

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Neil MacGregor's world history told through objects from the British Museum in London. The objects he has chosen this week have reflected on mass production and mass consumption in the 19th century. Today' he is with the first object from the 20th century, a coin that leads Neil to consider the rise of mass political engagement in Britain and the dramatic emergence of suffragette power. It's a penny coin from 1903 on which the image of King Edward V11 has been stamped with the words "Votes for Women". The programme explores the rise of women's suffrage and the implications of the notorious suffragette protests. The human rights lawyer and reformer Helena Kennedy and the artist Felicity Powell react to this defaced penny coin.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 15 2010

14mins

Play

Mexican codex map

Podcast cover
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The history of humanity as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London. This week Neil MacGregor is looking at the co-existence of faiths - peaceful or otherwise - across the globe around 400 years ago. Today he is with a document that shows what happened after Catholic Spain's conquest of Mexico - it's an old map, or codex, that was made at the height of the Spanish church building boom in Mexico. Neil uses the object to consider the nature of the Spanish conquest and to explore what happened when Catholic beliefs were assimilated alongside older pagan beliefs. The historian Samuel Edgerton offers an interpretation of the map that shows churches alongside older temples, and the Mexican born historian Fernando Cervantes considers the ongoing legacy of the great Christian conversion.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Sep 30 2010

14mins

Play

Hoa Hakananai'a Easter Island Statue

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This week Neil MacGregor is exploring the sophisticated ways in which people connected to gods and ancestors in the Middle Ages. He is looking at religious images from India, France, Mexico and Turkey.
Today - in the last programme of the second series - he is with one of the most instantly recognisable sculptures in the world: one of the giant stone heads that were made on Easter Island in the South Eastern Pacific Ocean. These deeply mysterious objects lead Neil to consider why they were made and why many were ultimately thrown down.
What was the Easter Islanders understanding of their gods and their ancestors? Steve Hooper, an expert on the arts of the Pacific, and the internationally renowned sculptor Sir Anthony Caro both respond to this monumental work of devotion.
Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jul 09 2010

14mins

Play

Inca Gold Llama

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The history of humanity - as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London - is back in South America. This week Neil MacGregor, the museum's director, is with the powerful elites - exploring the great empires across the world 600 years ago. Today he is with a small gold model of a llama, the animal that helped fuel the success of the great Inca Empire that ruled over some 12 million people right down the Pacific West Coast. For a culture living at high altitude in rough terrain and without horses or pack animals, the llama proved all important - for wool, for meat and for sacrifice. Neil tells the story of the Inca, the ways in which they organised themselves and things that they believed in. And he recounts what happened when the Spanish arrived. The scientist and writer Jared Diamond and the archaeologist Gabriel Ramon help tell the story.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Sep 15 2010

14mins

Play

Seated Buddha from Gandhara

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This week the history of the world as told through one hundred objects is looking at how the world's great religions began trying to find the perfect way to visually express the divine, less than 2000 years ago.

Today, Neil MacGregor looks at how a stone sculpture from modern day Pakistan can tell us about how Buddhism set about creating the classic image to represent the real life Buddha who lived and roamed around North India in the 5th Century BC. It was not until over five hundred years later when the classic seated image of the Buddha was first formulated. Before then the Buddha was represented only by symbols. How did the Buddha image come about and why do we need such images? The Dalai Lama's official translator, Thupten Jinpa, and the historian Claudine Bautze-Picron help explain.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

May 31 2010

13mins

Play

Hebrew Astrolabe

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Neil MacGregor's world history as told through objects at the British Museum. This week he is exploring high status objects from across the world around 700 years ago. Today he has chosen an astronomical instrument that could perform multiple tasks in the medieval age, from working out the time to preparing horoscopes. It is called an astrolabe and originates from Spain at a time when Christianity, Islam and Judaism coexisted and collaborated with relative ease - indeed this instrument carries symbols recognisable to all three religions. Neil considers who it was made for and how it was used. The astrolabe's curator, Silke Ackermann, describes the device and its markings, while the historian Sir John Elliott discusses the political and religious climate of 14th century Spain. Was it as tolerant as it seems?

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jun 29 2010

14mins

Play

Maya Relief of Royal Blood-Letting

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The history of the world as told through objects. This week Neil MacGregor, the Director of the British Museum, is exploring power and intrigue in the great royal courts of the world around 800 AD. Today's object offers a story of authority, pain and belief from the world of the ancient Maya. It is a limestone carving showing a king and his wife engaged in an agonising scene of ritual bloodletting. Neil describes a great city in the jungle of modern day Mexico and the culture that produced it. Virginia Fields, the expert on Maya iconography, and the psychotherapist Susie Orbach help explain an object that has the power to unsettle the modern viewer.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jun 14 2010

14mins

Play

Bird-shaped Pestle

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Neil MacGregor continues his retelling of human history using 100 selected objects from the British Museum. This week he explores the profound changes that humans experienced at the end of the Ice Age. By this period, humanity is reconsidering its place in the world and turning its attention to food, power, worship, and human relationships.

But then, as now, one of the most important parts of human existence was finding enough food to survive. Taking a pestle from Papua New Guinea as an example, Neil asks why our ancestors decided to grow and cook new foods. The answer provides us with a telling insight into the way early humans settled on the land. Becoming farmers and eating food that was harder for other animals to digest made us a formidable force in the food chain. The impact on our environment of this shift to cookery and cultivation is still being felt.

Neil is joined by Indian food writer Madhur Jaffrey, campaigner Sir Bob Geldof and archaeologist Professor Martin Jones.

Jan 25 2010

13mins

Play

Japanese bronze mirror

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The history of humanity as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London. This week Neil MacGregor is looking at objects from Tanzania, Britain, Java and central Europe, exploring the great arcs of trade that connected Africa, Europe and Asia around a thousand years ago. Today he arrives in Japan with an object that offers a dramatic twist on the week's theme. This small mirror from the bottom of a sacred pond comes from a time when the Japanese suddenly cut themselves off from the outside world and stopped all official contact with China, a country it had frequently borrowed ideas from. Neil tells the story of the Heian period of Japanese history, a moment of great cultural awakening in Japan, especially in literature. The object is a small mirror that was found at the bottom of a sacred pond. The writer Ian Buruma and the archaeologist Harada Masayuki help describe the Japan of this time.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jun 23 2010

14mins

Play

Hinton St Mary Mosaic

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This week Neil MacGregor is exploring how many of the great religions, less than 2000 years ago, began creating sophisticated new images to aid prayer and focus devotion. Many of the artistic conventions created then are still with us. In today's programme Neil MacGregor introduces us to one of the earliest known images of the face of Christ. This life sized face is part of a much bigger mosaic. It was made somewhere around the year 350 and was found not in a church but on the floor of a Roman villa in Dorset. What does this astonishing survival say about the state of Christianity at this time and what sort of Christ was imagined in Roman Britain? The historians Dame Averil Cameron and Eamon Duffy help paint the picture.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Jun 03 2010

13mins

Play

Solar-powered lamp and charger

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The very last episode in Neil MacGregor's history of humanity as told through the things that time has left behind. The director of the British Museum in London has spent the past year choosing objects from the museum's vast collection to represent a two million year story of humanity.
Throughout this week he has been with objects that that speak of the great shifts in human organisation and thinking in the modern world. Here he describes the object that he has picked as his last; it's a solar-powered lamp and charger that he believes can revolutionise the lives of poor people around the globe. The portable panel can provide up to 100 hours of light after just 8 hours of direct sunlight. It can also charge mobile phones and help bring power to millions of people around the world who have no access to an electrical grid. Simple, cheap and clean - this is revolutionary technology for the future. Nick Stern, the expert on the economics of climate change, describes the potential impact of new solar technology. Neil explains why he has chosen a solar-powered lamp and charger as his final object - with examples of how it is already being used in rural Bengal and urban Kenya.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 22 2010

13mins

Play

Credit card

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Neil MacGregor's history of the world as told through things. Throughout this week he is examining objects that speak of the great shifts in human organisation and thinking in the modern world - objects that raise questions about human lives, the environment and global resources. So far this week he has chosen things that deal with political and sexual revolution and that confront the disaster of global arms proliferation. In today's episode he considers the morality of modern global finance and its implication for the future. He tells the story with a credit card that is compliant with Islamic Sharia law - what does that mean and how does it work? He talks to the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, and to Razi Fakih of the HSBC bank.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 21 2010

13mins

Play

Throne of Weapons

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The history of humanity, as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London, is drawing to an end.

Throughout this week, Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, has been with things that help explain the modern world. He has explored political and sexual politics and freedoms, and now reflects on the impact of guns and weapons in the modern world - especially in Africa where thousands of children have been participants in brutal conflicts.

He tells the story through a work of art - a sculptured throne made from decommissioned guns like the ubiquitous AK47. We hear from Kester, the artist from Mozambique who created the Throne of Weapons and test the reaction to the piece of Kofi Annan, the former Secretary-General of the United Nations.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 20 2010

14mins

Play

Hockney's In the Dull Village

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This week Neil MacGregor's history of the world is examining the forces that helped shape our way of life and ways of thinking today. He began with the political revolution that exploded In Russia in the 1920s and today he moves on to the sexual revolution of the 1960s. He explores the emergence of legally enshrined human rights and the status of sexuality around the world. He tells the story with the aid of a David Hockney print, one of a series that was made in 1966 as the decriminalisation of homosexuality was being planned, at least in Britain. We hear from David Hockney on the spirit of the decade and from Shami Chakrabarti, the director of the human rights group Liberty

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 19 2010

13mins

Play

Russian revolutionary plate

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Neil MacGregor's history of the world as told through things that time has left behind. Throughout this closing week he is examining some of the major social and political movements that have helped shape our contemporary landscape. Today he tells the remarkable story of a Russian plate. It was made in 1901 in the Imperial Porcelain Factory in St Petersburg. Twenty years later it was painted over as a propaganda tool for the new Communist Revolution - decorated in the same factory that had become the State Porcelain Factory and in a city renamed as Petrograd. The director of the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg, Mikhail Piotrovsky, and the great historian of modern Russia, Eric Hobsbawn, help piece together this momentous history.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 18 2010

14mins

Play

Suffragette-defaced penny

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Neil MacGregor's world history told through objects from the British Museum in London. The objects he has chosen this week have reflected on mass production and mass consumption in the 19th century. Today' he is with the first object from the 20th century, a coin that leads Neil to consider the rise of mass political engagement in Britain and the dramatic emergence of suffragette power. It's a penny coin from 1903 on which the image of King Edward V11 has been stamped with the words "Votes for Women". The programme explores the rise of women's suffrage and the implications of the notorious suffragette protests. The human rights lawyer and reformer Helena Kennedy and the artist Felicity Powell react to this defaced penny coin.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 15 2010

14mins

Play

Sudanese slit drum

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The history of humanity as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London. This week Neil MacGregor, the Director of the Museum, is looking at Europe's engagement with the rest of the world during the 18th Century.

Today he is with an object "freighted with layers of history, legend, global politics and race relations". It is an aboriginal shield from Australia, originally owned by one of the men to first set eyes on Europeans as they descended on Botany Bay nearly 250 years ago. This remarkably well-preserved object was brought to England by the explorer Captain Cook. What can this object tell us about the early encounter between two such different cultures? Phil Gordon, the aboriginal Heritage Officer at the Australian Museum in Sydney, and the historian Maria Nugent help tell the story.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 14 2010

13mins

Play

Hokusai's The Great Wave

Podcast cover
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The history of humanity - as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London - is once again in Japan. This week Neil MacGregor, the museum's director, is looking at the global economy in the 19th century - at mass production and mass consumption. Today he is with an image that rapidly made its way around the world - Hokusai's print, The Great Wave, the now familiar seascape with a snow topped Mount Fuji in the background that became emblematic of the newly emerging Japan. Neil explores the conditions that produced this famous image - with help from Japan watchers Donald Keene and Christine Guth.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 13 2010

13mins

Play

Early Victorian tea set

Podcast cover
Read more
This week Neil MacGregor's history of the world is looking at how the global economy became cemented in the 19th century, a time of mass production and mass consumption. He tells the story of how tea became the defining national drink in Britain - why have we become so closely associated with a brew made from leaves mainly grown in China and India? The object he has chosen to reflect this curious history is an early Victorian tea set, made in Staffordshire and perfectly familiar to all of us. The historian Celina Fox and Monique Simmonds from Kew gardens find new meaning in the ubiquitous cuppa.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 12 2010

14mins

Play

Ship's chronometer from HMS Beagle

Podcast cover
Read more
Neil MacGregor's history of the world as told through things. Throughout this week he is examining the global economy of the 19th century - of mass production and mass consumption. Today he is with an instrument that first helped Europeans to navigate with precision around the world - a marine chronometer. The one Neil has chosen actually accompanied Darwin on his great voyage to South America and the Galapagos Islands - a journey that was to help lead him to his revolutionary theories on evolution.
The geographer Nigel Thrift and the geneticist Steve Jones celebrate the chronometer and the profound changes it prompted.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 11 2010

14mins

Play

Jade bi

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Neil MacGregor's world history told through the things that time has left behind. Throughout this week, Neil has been looking at Europe's discoveries around the world and its engagement with different cultures during the 18th century - the European Enlightenment project.

Today he describes what was happening in China during this period, as the country was experiencing its own Enlightenment under the Qianlong Emperor. He tells the story through a jade ring (called a Bi) that was probably made around 1500 BC and then written over during the Qing dynasty. What does this prehistoric piece of jade tell us about life in 18th century China? The historian Jonathan Spence and the poet Yang Lian find meaning in this intriguing object.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 08 2010

14mins

Play

Australian bark shield

Podcast cover
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The history of humanity as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London. This week Neil MacGregor, the Director of the Museum, is looking at Europe's engagement with the rest of the world during the 18th Century.

Today he is with an object "freighted with layers of history, legend, global politics and race relations". It is an aboriginal shield from Australia, originally owned by one of the men to first set eyes on Europeans as they descended on Botany Bay nearly 250 years ago. This remarkably well-preserved object was brought to England by the explorer Captain Cook. What can this object tell us about the early encounter between two such different cultures? Phil Gordon, the aboriginal Heritage Officer at the Australian Museum in Sydney, and the historian Maria Nugent help tell the story.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 07 2010

13mins

Play

North American buckskin map

Podcast cover
Read more
The history of humanity - as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London - is once again in North America. This week Neil MacGregor, the museum's director, is looking at Europe's engagement with the rest of the world in the 18th century.

Today he tells the story of a map, roughly drawn on deer skin, that was used as the British negotiated for land in the area between the Great Lakes and the Mississippi. It was probably drawn up by a Native American around 1774. Neil looks at how the French and the British were in conflict in the region, and examines the different attitudes to land and living between Europeans and Native Americans. Martin Lewis, an expert on maps from this region, and the historian David Edmunds describe the map and the clash of cultures that was played out within its boundaries.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 06 2010

13mins

Play

Hawaiian feather helmet

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This week Neil MacGregor's history of the world is telling the story of European encounters across the globe during the 18th century.

Today he finds out what happened to Captain Cook as he was mapping and collecting in the Pacific. Neil tells the story through a chieftain's helmet made from a myriad of colourful bird feathers that was given to Cook when he landed in Hawaii in 1778. This is not a story with a happy ending. The anthropologist Nicholas Thomas and the Hawaiian academics Marques Hanalei Marzan, Kyle Nakanelua and Kaholokula help describe Cook's impact in the Pacific and the meaning of the feathered helmet.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 05 2010

13mins

Play

Akan drum

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Neil MacGregor's history of the world as told through things that time has left behind. Throughout this week he is examining the often troubled relationship between Europe and the rest of the world during the 18th century.

Today he tells the extraordinary story of a now fragile African drum. It was taken to America during the years of the slave trade where it came into contact with Native Americans. The drum was brought to England by Sir Hans Sloane, whose collection became the British Museum in 1753. This drum, the earliest African-American object in the Museum, is a rare surviving example of an instrument whose music was to profoundly influence American culture - bought to America on a slave ship and transported to Britain by a slave owner. The historian Anthony Appiah and the writer Bonnie Greer consider the impact of this drum.

Producer: Anthony Denselow
Music research specifically for the Akan drum: Michael Doran.

Oct 04 2010

14mins

Play

Reformation centenary broadsheet

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Neil MacGregor's world history as told through things that time has left behind. This week Neil is looking at the co-existence of faiths - peaceful or otherwise - across the globe around 400 years ago. So far he has looked at objects from India and Central America, Iran and Indonesia that embody the political consequences of belief. Today he is back in Europe, with a document that marks an anniversary and that is designed to raise morale. It's a woodblock print, a broadsheet, commissioned in Saxony in 1617 to mark a hundred years of the Protestant reformation and anti Catholic sentiment. Neil describes the broadsheet and the uncertain Protestant world that produced it. Was this the first time that an anniversary was commemorated in this way, with a kind of souvenir? The broadcaster and journalist Ian Hislop considers the broadsheet as an early equivalent to the tabloid press while the religious historian Karen Armstrong describes the reforming motivation that the broadsheet celebrates.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Oct 01 2010

13mins

Play

Mexican codex map

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The history of humanity as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London. This week Neil MacGregor is looking at the co-existence of faiths - peaceful or otherwise - across the globe around 400 years ago. Today he is with a document that shows what happened after Catholic Spain's conquest of Mexico - it's an old map, or codex, that was made at the height of the Spanish church building boom in Mexico. Neil uses the object to consider the nature of the Spanish conquest and to explore what happened when Catholic beliefs were assimilated alongside older pagan beliefs. The historian Samuel Edgerton offers an interpretation of the map that shows churches alongside older temples, and the Mexican born historian Fernando Cervantes considers the ongoing legacy of the great Christian conversion.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Sep 30 2010

14mins

Play

Shadow Puppet of Bima

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The history of humanity - as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London - is in South East Asia. This week Neil MacGregor, the museum's director, is with the objects from across the world around 400 years ago that explore the relationships between religion and society. Today he is with a shadow puppet from the Indonesian island of Java, asking how a puppet watched by a predominantly Muslim audience is a character from a Hindi epic. He describes the history of the theatre of shadows and explores how it reveals the religious traditions that have shaped Indonesian life. He talks to a puppet master from Java. And the Malaysian novelist Tash Aw discusses the influence of shadow theatre on the region today.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Sep 29 2010

14mins

Play

Miniature of a Mughal prince

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This week Neil MacGregor's history of the world is looking at the co-existence of faiths - peaceful or otherwise - across the globe around 400 years ago. Today he is in one of the great Islamic empires of the 16th and 17th centuries - in Mughal India. He tells the story of the Mughal rulers and their relationship with Hindu India through a miniature painting (dated around 1610) that shows an encounter between a noble man and a holy man. Neil describes an early mood of religious tolerance and the development of this exquisite art form. Asok Kumar Das discusses the function of miniature painting in India and the historian Aman Nath reflects on encounters between holy men and men of political power throughout Indian history.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Sep 28 2010

14mins

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The Shi'a religious parade standard

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Neil MacGregor's world history as told through things. This week he is exploring the development and co-existence of faiths across the globe around 400 years ago, looking at objects from India and Central America, Europe and Indonesia that embody the political consequences of belief. Today he is with a remarkable object from Shia Iran, that in the 16th Century was open to the co-existence of faiths. The object he has chosen is a symbol of Shia faith, a standard or Alam that was carried at the front of Shia processions. They were often so tall and heavy that they would require great physical strength to handle. Neil visits religious sites in Isfahan to reflect on the spiritual climate of the time. Hossein Pourtahmasbi, from the Iranian community in London and a former alam carrier, describes the tradition. And the Iranian historian Haleh Afshar reflects on the shifting position of Shia Islam within Iran over the centuries.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.

Sep 27 2010

14mins

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