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Thinking with Things: The Oxford Collection

Updated 4 days ago

Education
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History
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Ever since it was founded in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum has been a place where academics and researchers come to study and be inspired by the collections.Take a closer look at the Ashmolean's hidden treasures from the viewpoint of the experts. Academics from across the University of Oxford have chosen an object that relates to their research, revealing a whole world of ideas behind a single artefact. We hope that these specially curated podcasts, created by some of the University of Oxford's greatest minds, will encourage you to seek out your own hidden treasure in our vast collection.Visit the Ashmolean collection and look out for the purple podcast leaflet and signage in the gallery to find the associated objects. We are enormously grateful to Professor Raymond Dwek, CBE, FRS for his generous support of this new podcast project.

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Ever since it was founded in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum has been a place where academics and researchers come to study and be inspired by the collections.Take a closer look at the Ashmolean's hidden treasures from the viewpoint of the experts. Academics from across the University of Oxford have chosen an object that relates to their research, revealing a whole world of ideas behind a single artefact. We hope that these specially curated podcasts, created by some of the University of Oxford's greatest minds, will encourage you to seek out your own hidden treasure in our vast collection.Visit the Ashmolean collection and look out for the purple podcast leaflet and signage in the gallery to find the associated objects. We are enormously grateful to Professor Raymond Dwek, CBE, FRS for his generous support of this new podcast project.

Cover image of Thinking with Things: The Oxford Collection

Thinking with Things: The Oxford Collection

Latest release on Jan 23, 2017

Read more

Ever since it was founded in 1683, the Ashmolean Museum has been a place where academics and researchers come to study and be inspired by the collections.Take a closer look at the Ashmolean's hidden treasures from the viewpoint of the experts. Academics from across the University of Oxford have chosen an object that relates to their research, revealing a whole world of ideas behind a single artefact. We hope that these specially curated podcasts, created by some of the University of Oxford's greatest minds, will encourage you to seek out your own hidden treasure in our vast collection.Visit the Ashmolean collection and look out for the purple podcast leaflet and signage in the gallery to find the associated objects. We are enormously grateful to Professor Raymond Dwek, CBE, FRS for his generous support of this new podcast project.

Rank #1: Mummified Child

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On growing up and dying in ancient and modern populations. What can we learn about the lives of ancient populations and how does this compare to modern societies? The boy lived during the Roman period of ancient Egypt (AD80–120), a time we know a lot about due to the Romans taking censuses and records of illness. With Professor Sarah Harper, Gerontology, University of Oxford.
Object number: AN1888.820

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Rank #2: Ennui by Walter Richard Sickert

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On Viginia Woolf's interpretation of Walter Sickert's painting of Ennui. Virginia Woolf, the famous author, wrote an essay 'Walter Sickert: a conversation' on the painting of Ennui by Walter Richard Sickert in 1933. Woolf describes how she imagines the characters in the painting as an old publican, 'with his glass on the table before him and a cigar at his lips.' With Professor Dame Hermione Lee, English Literature, University of Oxford.
Object number: WA1940.1.92

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Rank #3: Carved Stone Ball

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We still do not know why these stone balls were created. They date to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, between 3200 and 1500 BC. They are made of various types of rock, such as sandstone or granite. Could they have been made by ancient mathematicians? With Professor Marcus Du Sautoy, Mathematics, University of Oxford. Object number: AN1927.2727

Jan 23 2017

1min

Play

Rank #4: Lion Statue

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On whether there were ever lions in Egypt. Today, there are no lions roaming wild in north Africa, but evidence from ancient Egypt suggests that lions once did. Could this Egyptian pottery lion, dated to 2,325 – 2,175 BC provide clues to what the north African lion might have looked like? Professor David Whyte Macdonald, Wildlife Conservation, University of Oxford. Object number: AN1896–1908E.189

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Rank #5: Henry VIII Renaissance Medal

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On Henry VIII and the Founding of the Church of England Minted at London in 1545, this medal shows a bust of Henry VIII, with inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek on the reverse. As a consequence of Henry’s break with Rome in 1533, he claimed to be 'Supreme head of Church of England.' With Rev. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, History of the Church, University of Oxford. Object number: HCR6591

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Lion Statue

Podcast cover
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On whether there were ever lions in Egypt. Today, there are no lions roaming wild in north Africa, but evidence from ancient Egypt suggests that lions once did. Could this Egyptian pottery lion, dated to 2,325 – 2,175 BC provide clues to what the north African lion might have looked like? Professor David Whyte Macdonald, Wildlife Conservation, University of Oxford. Object number: AN1896–1908E.189

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Henry VIII Renaissance Medal

Podcast cover
Read more
On Henry VIII and the Founding of the Church of England Minted at London in 1545, this medal shows a bust of Henry VIII, with inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek on the reverse. As a consequence of Henry’s break with Rome in 1533, he claimed to be 'Supreme head of Church of England.' With Rev. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, History of the Church, University of Oxford. Object number: HCR6591

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Meissen porcelain chocolate cup and tea bowl

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On arranged marriages among royalty. How does porcelain represent a royal marriage? When Maria Amalia of Saxony married Carlo, King of the Two Sicilies, in 1738, she brought Meissen porcelain with her to Naples. Her grandfather had founded the first European porcelain factory in 1710 and the Saxon court often presented porcelain to ambassadors and others who helped them to broker strategic political marriages. With Professor Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly, German Literature, University of Oxford. Object number: WA1977.246-7.

Jan 23 2017

2mins

Play

Arab robe worn by T. E. Lawrence

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On Lawrence of Arabia and wearing Arab robes. T. E. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia was infamous for his scruffy appearance when in the British Khaki uniform, and wore it as little as possible. However, Lawrence took on quite a different guise when his friend King Faisal of Iraq suggested he dress in his set of Arab wedding clothes. With Professor Eugene Rogan, Modern Middle Eastern History, University of Oxford. Object number: EA1965.176.

Jan 23 2017

3mins

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Silver-gilt carriage clock

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This travelling calendar carriage clock dates to 1747–1823. Why would such a clock need to have both lunar and sun time represented on it? With Professor Chris Lintott Astrophysics, University of Oxford. Object number: WA1949.134

Jan 23 2017

2mins

Play

Ennui by Walter Richard Sickert

Podcast cover
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On Viginia Woolf's interpretation of Walter Sickert's painting of Ennui. Virginia Woolf, the famous author, wrote an essay 'Walter Sickert: a conversation' on the painting of Ennui by Walter Richard Sickert in 1933. Woolf describes how she imagines the characters in the painting as an old publican, 'with his glass on the table before him and a cigar at his lips.' With Professor Dame Hermione Lee, English Literature, University of Oxford.
Object number: WA1940.1.92

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Mummified Child

Podcast cover
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On growing up and dying in ancient and modern populations. What can we learn about the lives of ancient populations and how does this compare to modern societies? The boy lived during the Roman period of ancient Egypt (AD80–120), a time we know a lot about due to the Romans taking censuses and records of illness. With Professor Sarah Harper, Gerontology, University of Oxford.
Object number: AN1888.820

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Carved Stone Ball

Podcast cover
Read more
We still do not know why these stone balls were created. They date to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, between 3200 and 1500 BC. They are made of various types of rock, such as sandstone or granite. Could they have been made by ancient mathematicians? With Professor Marcus Du Sautoy, Mathematics, University of Oxford. Object number: AN1927.2727

Jan 23 2017

1min

Play

Portrait of Mademoiselle Claus by Édouard Manet

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Are Eastern Art and Western Art basically the same, and what is painting for? On Édouard Manet, Cézanne and their similarity to Chinese paintings. With Professor Craig Clunas Art History, University of Oxford. Object number: WA2012.53

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play

Tombstone of a Muslim girl

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On what were people’s feelings about death and the dead in North Africa a thousand years ago? What does this tombstone tell us? With Professor Julia Bray, Arabic, University of Oxford. Object number: EA2006.21

Jan 23 2017

3mins

Play