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Rank #160 in Society & Culture category

Society & Culture
History

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Updated 10 days ago

Rank #160 in Society & Culture category

Society & Culture
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

798 Ratings
Average Ratings
564
102
62
38
32

The BBC is just plain intelligent. As opposed to the U.S.

By Cece.Rider - Aug 06 2019
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The U.S. has NPR, that's it. The rest is garbage. I'm so grateful to have access to everything BBC. Grateful.

My first

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

iTunes Ratings

798 Ratings
Average Ratings
564
102
62
38
32

The BBC is just plain intelligent. As opposed to the U.S.

By Cece.Rider - Aug 06 2019
Read more
The U.S. has NPR, that's it. The rest is garbage. I'm so grateful to have access to everything BBC. Grateful.

My first

By Danermal - Jul 18 2018
Read more
This is the first podcast I ever fell in love with.
Cover image of A History of the World in 100 Objects

A History of the World in 100 Objects

Updated 10 days ago

Rank #160 in Society & Culture category

Read more

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

Rank #1: Mummy of Hornedjitef

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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.

At the age of eight, Neil visited the British Museum for the first time and came face to face with an object that fascinated and intrigued him ever since, an Egyptian mummy. Hornedjitef was a priest who died around 2,250 years ago, and he designed a coffin that, he believed, would help him navigate his way to the afterlife. Little did he know that this afterlife would be as a museum exhibit in London. This ornate coffin holds secrets to the understanding of his religion, society and Egypt's connections to the rest of the world.

Neil tells the story of Hornedjitef's mummy case with contributions from egyptologist John Taylor, Egyptian author Ahdaf Soueif and Indian economist and Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Jan 18 2010
13 mins
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Rank #2: 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
13 mins
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Rank #3: 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
13 mins
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Rank #4: Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool

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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 goes back two million years to the Rift Valley in Tanzania, where a simple chipped stone marks the emergence of modern humans.

One of the characteristics that mark humans out from other animals is their desire for, and dependency on, the things they fashion with their own hands. Faced with the needs to cut meat from carcasses, early humans in Africa discovered how to shape stones into cutting tools. From that one innovation, a whole history of human development springs.

Neil tells the story of the Olduvai stone chopping tool with contributions from flint napper Phil Harding, Sir David Attenborough and African Nobel Prize winner Dr Wangeri Maathai.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Jan 19 2010
14 mins
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Rank #5: 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
14 mins
Play

Rank #6: 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
14 mins
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Rank #7: 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
13 mins
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Rank #8: 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
13 mins
Play

Rank #9: 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
14 mins
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Rank #10: North American buckskin map

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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
13 mins
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Rank #11: 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
14 mins
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Rank #12: 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
13 mins
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Rank #13: 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
14 mins
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Rank #14: Early Victorian tea set

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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
14 mins
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Rank #15: 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
13 mins
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Rank #16: Parthenon Sculpture: Centaur and Lapith

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Neil MacGregor examines the emergence of powerful new forces across the globe around the fifth century BC, from Confucius in China to Cyrus in Persia.

In this programme he looks at the emotionally-charged sculptures that were made for the Parthenon in Athens. Carved out of marble around 440BC, these beautiful figures continue to generate huge controversy around the world for the fact that they remain in London and have not been returned to Greece. Neil acknowledges the political controversy of the Elgin Marbles (named after the British Lord who carried them off) but concentrates on their artistic story and on exploring the ancient Greek world that created them. He describes a culture besotted with the myths and imagery of battle. Greek archaeologist Olga Palagia and classicist Mary Beard help conjure up the extraordinary city of antiquity.
Feb 23 2010
14 mins
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Rank #17: Chinese Tang tomb figures

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This week Neil MacGregor is exploring life in the great royal courts across the world during Europe's medieval period, from the heart of Europe to Mexico and Sri Lanka. Today he is in China of the Tang Dynasty around 700 AD. He tells how the elite of the time chose to leave their mark on the world by writing or commissioning their own obituaries. He is with a curious troupe of ceramic figures that were found in the tomb of a Tang general along with a stone tablet proclaiming his achievements. The China scholar Oliver Moore explains the growing ambitions of the dynasty and journalist Anthony Howard describes the enduring power of the obituary.

Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Jun 18 2010
14 mins
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Rank #18: Gold Coins of Abd al-Malik

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The history of the world as told through one hundred of the objects that time has left behind. The objects are from the British Museum and tell the story of humanity over the past 2 million years. They are chosen by the museum's director, Neil MacGregor.

This week he is exploring the world along and beyond the Silk Road in the 7th century AD at a time when the teachings of the prophet Muhammad were transforming the Middle East forever. Today he looks at how the Syrian capital Damascus was rapidly becoming the centre of a new Islamic empire. He tells the story through two gold coins that perfectly capture the moment - with contributions from the historian Hugh Kennedy and the anthropologist Madawi Al-Rasheed.

Producer: Rebecca Stratford.
Jun 07 2010
14 mins
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Rank #19: 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
14 mins
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Rank #20: Statue of Ramesses II

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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.

The story arrives in Egypt around 1250 BC. At the heart of this programme is the British Museum's giant statue of the king Ramesses II, an inspiration to Shelley and a remarkable ruler who built monuments all over Egypt. He inspired a line of future pharaohs and was worshipped as a god a thousand years later. He lived to be over 90 and fathered some 100 children.

Neil considers the achievements of Ramesses II in fixing the image of imperial Egypt for the rest of the world, and sculptor Antony Gormley, the man responsible for a contemporary giant statue, The Angel of the North, considers the towering figure of Ramesses as an enduring work of art.
Feb 12 2010
13 mins
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