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History

Living With The Gods

Updated 3 days ago

History
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Neil MacGregor explores the role and expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world. Produced in partnership with the British Museum.

Read more

Neil MacGregor explores the role and expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world. Produced in partnership with the British Museum.

iTunes Ratings

157 Ratings
Average Ratings
139
14
3
0
1

Brilliant

By Randomnamenickname - Aug 07 2019
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i loved the inclusion of religion in general. a great listen.

Great show from same guy as history of the world in 100 objects

By bbbbnnnnnn - Jul 02 2018
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Excellent show, learned a lot.

iTunes Ratings

157 Ratings
Average Ratings
139
14
3
0
1

Brilliant

By Randomnamenickname - Aug 07 2019
Read more
i loved the inclusion of religion in general. a great listen.

Great show from same guy as history of the world in 100 objects

By bbbbnnnnnn - Jul 02 2018
Read more
Excellent show, learned a lot.

The Best Episodes of:

Cover image of Living With The Gods

Living With The Gods

Updated 3 days ago

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Neil MacGregor explores the role and expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world. Produced in partnership with the British Museum.

Rank #1: Water of Life and Death

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Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time, and focuses on water, including a visit to the Ganges at Varanasi, India.

In Islam, Christianity and Judaism, water is an essential part of religious practice. But for no faith does water - and one particular kind of water - play such a significant role as for Hindus. To bathe in the river Ganges is not just to prepare to meet the divine, but already to be embraced by it. The river Ganges is the goddess Ganga, and the waters of this river, which govern life and death, have not only determined many aspects of Hinduism, but in considerable measure shaped the identity of the modern state of India.

Producer Paul Kobrak

The series is produced in partnership with the British Museum.
Photograph: (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Oct 25 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #2: Here Comes the Sun

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Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world, and focuses on light.

He experiences the sunrise whilst inside the monumental stone passage tomb at Newgrange, Ireland, a structure older than Stonehenge or the pyramids in Egypt. Here, on the winter solstice, thanks to the design of the tomb, a bright, narrow beam of sunlight reaches deep inside the structure.

He also considers the story of Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess, whose decision to hide herself in a cave plunged the world into darkness, and reflects on how - centuries later - the image of rising sun became closely linked with Japanese national identity.

Producer Paul Kobrak

The series is produced in partnership with the British Museum
Photograph: (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Oct 26 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #3: Dependence or Dominion?

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Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time.

He focuses on the natural world and seasonal change: the Yupik people of Alaska depend on the seal, and ancient Egyptians looked to the god Osiris to bring fertility to their arid land.

Both societies, in radically different climates, devised practices that acknowledged the fact of their dependence on the natural world - and engaged everybody with the responsibility of co-operating with it.

Producer Paul Kobrak

The series is produced in partnership with the British Museum
Photograph: (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Oct 27 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #4: Living with the Dead

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Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues with a reflection on our relationship with the dead.

In the British Museum, he focuses on mummy bundles from Peru, skeletons wrapped in textiles made of llama wool or cotton. For the living, these were ancestors with great wisdom and knowledge of the world, who could be called upon to help key decision-makers.

He also examines two Chinese 'ancestor portraits', and discovers how and why they were venerated by surviving family members.
Producer Paul Kobrak

The series is produced in partnership with the British Museum, with the assistance of Dr Christopher Harding, University of Edinburgh.
Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Oct 30 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #5: Mother and Child

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Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time.

He focuses on how societies and communities seek to protect the newly-born and their mothers, including the role of St Margaret of Antioch, patron saint of childbirth, and the use of protective omamori in Japan.

Producer Paul Kobrak

Produced in partnership with the British Museum
Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Oct 31 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #6: Change Your Life

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Neil MacGregor continues his series about the expression of shared beliefs with a focus on images which seek to change the viewer's behaviour.

A small coloured wood-cut, created in the Netherlands around 1500, offers a particularly gruesome rendering of Christ's crucifixion. Christ is pictured with blood pouring from his torso, his head, his legs and his outstretched arms. These are not realistically arranged droplets; instead we see a flurry of vertical red strokes, tightly packed together and evenly spaced. Neil MacGregor reflects on the purpose of this image.

He also considers a serene figure of the Buddha, a halo behind his head, already in his enlightened state.
Producer Paul Kobrak

Produced in partnership with the British Museum
Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Nov 16 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #7: Rejecting the Image

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Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues with a reflection on faiths which focus on the word rather than the image.

A striking cobalt blue mosque lamp, from around 1570, shows an Islamic way of doing honour to the word: calligraphy.

In Jewish religious ceremonies a yad - a small silver rod with a little hand and a pointing index finger - is used to follow the text during readings from the Torah, to avoid any damage to the delicate parchment.

Producer Paul Kobrak

Produced in partnership with the British Museum
Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Nov 16 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #8: The Protectoresses

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Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues this week with a focus on images.

In Mexico, the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe came not from the hand of an artist, but was directly given from heaven - according to its history. Our Lady of Guadalupe is now the most powerful of presiding images, and the Basilica of Guadalupe near Mexico City is said to be the most visited Roman Catholic pilgrimage site in the world.

The sanctuary of the goddess Artemis in the great trading city of Ephesus, now in western Turkey, was by far the most celebrated temple of the antique Mediterranean, and the cult of Artemis spread eastwards towards the Black Sea, and westwards towards Spain. Artemis was thought to protect the vulnerable at their moments of greatest personal danger.

Neil MacGregor also visits a shrine devoted to a woman sometimes perceived as a contemporary protectoress.

Producer Paul Kobrak

The series is produced in partnership with the British Museum, with the assistance of Dr Christopher Harding, University of Edinburgh.
Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Nov 13 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #9: Becoming an Adult

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Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time.

He focuses on rites of passage, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, including a lock of bound hair, from the collections of the British Museum, which reveals an important ritual for teenage boys on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu.

Producer Paul Kobrak

Produced in partnership with the British Museum
Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Nov 01 2017

14mins

Play

Rank #10: Living with Many Gods

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Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues with a focus on societies living with many gods.

In the mid-1840s, a Roman earthenware jar was dug from the earth near Felmingham Hall in Norfolk. Inside, excavators found several belief systems, all mixed up together - for buried in the pot was a jumble of gods, deities of different kinds and origins, that tell us what it meant for people in Roman Britain around the year 250 to be living with many gods.

The great ancient Mesopotamian Epic of Gilgamesh includes a narrative with striking similarities to - but important differences from - the story of Noah in the Bible. Here a council of gods is persuaded to unleash a great flood to wipe out humankind.

Producer Paul Kobrak

The series is produced in partnership with the British Museum, with the assistance of Dr Christopher Harding, University of Edinburgh.
Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Nov 20 2017

14mins

Play