A History of the World in 100 Objects Podcast

A History of the World in 100 Objects

A History podcast featuring Neil MacGregor
 6 people rated this podcast

Best Episodes of A History of the World in 100 Objects

Mark All
Search Episodes...
Early Victorian tea set
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.
Russian revolutionary plate
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.
Lewis Chessmen
This week Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, has chosen some of the great status symbols of the world around 700 years ago - objects with quite surprising links across the globe. Today he is with one of the most familiar objects at the museum; a board game, found in the Outer Hebrides but probably made in Norway - the Lewis Chessmen. They are carved out of ivory and many of the figures are hugely detailed and wonderfully expressive. They take us to the world of Northern Europe at a time when Norway ruled parts of Scotland and Neil describes the medieval world of the chessmen and explains how the game evolved. The historian Miri Rubin considers the genesis of the pieces and the novelist Martin Amis celebrates the metaphorical power of the game of chess. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Suffragette-defaced penny
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.
Sudanese slit drum
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.
Olmec Stone Mask
Neil MacGregor selects a miniature mask to tell the story of the Olmec, the mysterious people of ancient Mexico who lived before the time of the Aztecs or Maya. As the Parthenon was being created in Greece and the Persians were expanding the world's biggest empire, what was life like for the 'mother culture' of Central America? Neil explores the life of the Olmec and visits the remains of one of their greatest legacies. He considers their remarkable skills in mask making with the Olmec specialist Karl Taube and the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes.
Maya Maize God Statue
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 focuses on the world of the Mayan civilisation and a stone Maize God, discovered on the site of a major Mayan city in present-day Honduras. This large statue is wearing a headdress in the shape of a giant corn cob. Maize was not only worshipped at that time but the Maya also believed that all their ancestors were descended from maize. Neil reveals why maize, which is notoriously difficult to refine for human consumption, became so important to the emerging agriculture of the region. Neil is joined by the anthropologist Professor John Staller and the restaurateur Santiago Calva, who explain the complexity of Mayan mythological belief and the ongoing power of maize in Central America today. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Head of Augustus
Neil MacGregor concludes the first week of the second part of his global history as told through objects from the British Museum. This week he has been exploring the lives and methods of powerful rulers around the world about 2000 years ago, from Alexander the Great in Egypt to Asoka in India. Today he introduces us to the great Roman emperor Augustus, whose powerful, God-like status is brilliantly enshrined in a larger than life bronze head with striking eyes. Neil MacGregor describes how Augustus dramatically enlarged the Roman Empire, establishing his image as one of its most familiar objects. The historian Susan Walker and the politician Boris Johnson help explain the power and methodology of Augustus. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Seated Buddha from Gandhara
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.
Statue of Huastec Goddess
The history of humanity as told through one hundred objects from the British Museum in London is in Mexico. This week Neil MacGregor is meeting the Gods - exploring the sophistication of religious art in the 14th and 15th centuries as people around the world created physical expressions for devotion and for representing the divine. Today he is with a striking sandstone sculpture of a goddess made by the Huastec people of present day Mexico. This remarkable figure stands bare breasted with hands folded over her stomach and wearing a remarkable fan-shaped headdress. She has been associated with the later Aztec goddess of sexuality and fertility. The writer Marina Warner describes the power of the goddess figure in matters of fertility and sexuality while the art historian Kim Richter describes the particular nature of Huastec society and sculpture. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Arabian Bronze Hand
Throughout this week Neil MacGregor is looking at how the great faiths were creating new visual aids to promote devotion around the world of 1700 years ago. Having looked at emerging images from Hinduism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity and Buddhism he turns his attention to the religious climate of pre-Islamic Arabia. The story is told through a life sized bronze hand cut at the wrist and with writing on the back. It turns out to be not a part of a god but a gift to a god in a Yemeni hill village. Neil uses this mysterious object to explore the centrality of Arabia at this period, with its wealth of local gods and imported beliefs. The hand surgeon Jeremy Field considers whether this was the modelled from a real human hand while the religious historian Philip Jenkins reflects on what happens to the old pagan gods when a brand new religion sweeps into town. Proudcer: Anthony Denselow.
Shadow Puppet of Bima
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.
Harem wall painting fragments
Neil MacGregor's world history as told through objects at the British Museum. This week, he is exploring life and intrigue in the great courts of the world at the same time as the European medieval period. Today he is with the women of Samarra in Iraq. This ancient city, north of Baghdad, was once home to the Abbasid court and was one of the great Muslim capitals of the world. Portraits from a mural in the palace harem offer a vivid insight into the lives of the rulers and the slave women whose job was to entertain them. What was life really like in this great court? The historian Robert Irwin, an expert on the tales of the Arabian Nights, looks at how the reality of life in the harem matches the sensual fantasy that has become associated with the period. And Amira Bennison, of Cambridge University, explains what conditions were like for the women of the harem and the qualifications they needed just to get there. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Vale of York Hoard
The history of the world as told through objects that history has left behind. This week Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, has chosen objects that bring life to the traders, pilgrims and raiders who swept across the vast expanse of Europe and Asia between the 9th and 13th centuries. Today he is with a great Viking treasure hoard that was discovered by metal detectors in a field in North Yorkshire. This dramatic, recent discovery, consisting of over 600 coins buried in a silver cup, dates back to the 10th century and reveals the astonishing range of Viking activity. There are coins here minted as far away as Afghanistan and Iraq! Neil describes what the England of the early 900's was really like. He unravels the cliches that abound about the Vikings. The historian Michael Wood helps set the scene and the father and son team who found the hoard, David and Andrew Whelan, recall the excitement of the discovery. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Moche Warrior Pot
The history of the world as told through one hundred objects arrives in 7th Century Peru. Throughout this week Neil MacGregor is exploring along the Silk Road and beyond, ranging from Korea to East Anglia. But what was life and culture like in South America during the same period that Islam was transforming the Middle East? In today's programme, Neil introduces us to a remarkable lost civilisation from present day Peru. He explores the story of the Moche people through a pot in the shape of a warrior, with help from expert Steve Bourget and the potter Grayson Perry. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
North American buckskin map
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.
Head of Alexander
Neil MacGregor opens the second part of his global history as told through objects from the British Museum in London. This week he is exploring the lives and methods of powerful rulers around the world 2000 years ago, asking what enduring qualities are needed for the perfect projection of power. He begins with one of history's most famous leaders, one with a divine aura - Alexander the Great, a ruler whose empire was to stretch from Egypt to northern India, and who has left an impressive legacy on the world today. He tells the story of Alexander the Great through a small silver coin, one that was made years after his death by one of his former generals but that portrays an idealised image of the great leader as a vigorous young man. Political commentator Andrew Marr considers Alexander as a model for future rulers and the historian Robin Lane-Fox explains the motivation behind Alexander's extraordinary ascent.
Hoxne Pepper Pot
Neil MacGregor's world history told through objects at the British Museum arrives in Britain at the time of the Roman collapse. Throughout this week he has been looking at how different cultures around the globe were pursuing pleasure, roughly 2000 years ago, from smoking in North America to team sports in Central America. Today, Neil looks at how the elite of Roman Britain sustained their appetite for luxury goods and good living in the years before their demise. He tells the story through a silver pepper pot that was discovered as part of a buried hoard - hidden possibly by Romans on the run. He describes the ambitions of the elite in Roman Britain and how they satisfied their particular taste for pepper, with contributions from the food writer Christine McFadden and historian Roberta Tomber. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Hawaiian feather helmet
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.
Miniature of a Mughal prince
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.
Mummy of Hornedjitef
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.
Flood Tablet
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. A small tablet was found in modern Iraq and brought back to the British Museum. When it was translated, back in 1872, it turned out to be an account of a great flood that significantly pre-dated the famous Biblical tale of Noah. This discovery caused a storm around the world and led to a passionate debate about the truth of the Bible, about storytelling and the universality of legend. In a week that looks at the emergence new ways of expression like literature and mathematics, Neil introduces us first to the British Museum's provocative Flood Tablet.
Hinton St Mary Mosaic
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.
Double-headed serpent
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 objects from around the world between 1450 and 1600. This is the time of huge European expansion thanks to the new developments in ship building. Today he is with an object made by the Aztecs of present day Mexico. He describes the Aztec world and the Spanish conquest of this culture, through a double-headed serpent made from tiny pieces of turquoise - one of the stars of the British Museum. The Aztec specialist Adriane Diaz Enciso discusses the role of the snake in Aztec belief while the conservator Rebecca Stacey describes the scientific detective work that the object has prompted. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Icon of the Triumph of Orthodoxy
This week Neil MacGregor's world history as told through objects is describing how people expressed devotion and connection with the divine in the 14th and 15th centuries. Today he is with an icon from Constantinople that looks back in history to celebrate the overthrow of iconoclasm and the restoration of holy images in AD 843 - a moment of triumph for the Orthodox branch of the Christian Church. This icon shows the annual festival of orthodoxy celebrated on the first Sunday of Lent, with historical figures of that time and a famous depiction of the Virgin Mary. The American artist Bill Viola responds to the icon and describes the special characteristics of religious painting. And the historian Diarmaid MacCulloch describes the often troubled relationship between the Church and the images it has produced. Producer: Anthony Denselow.
Rate Podcast
Recommend This Podcast
Recommendation sent

Join Podchaser to...

  • Rate podcasts and episodes
  • Follow podcasts and creators
  • Create podcast and episode lists
  • & much more
Podcast Details
Started
Jan 18th, 2010
Latest Episode
Oct 22nd, 2010
Release Period
Daily
No. of Episodes
100
Avg. Episode Length
14 minutes
Explicit
No

Podcast Tags

Do you host or manage this podcast?
Claim and edit this page to your liking.
Are we missing an episode or update?
Use this to check the RSS feed immediately.