A History of the World in 100 Objects

Work­ing with the BBC, Neil Mac­Gre­gor, the Direc­tor of the British Muse­um, has launched a down­right smart project. A His­to­ry of the World in 100 Objects uses impor­tant pieces from the muse­um’s col­lec­tions to recount the long his­to­ry of human­i­ty. Through­out the year, the seri­al­ized radio pro­gram will air 100 episodes, each aver­ag­ing 15 min­utes, and they will cov­er two mil­lion years of human inno­va­tion and artis­tic cre­ation. Below, I’ve includ­ed a recent episode that revis­its the Oldu­vai hand axe, a tool invent­ed some 1.2 mil­lion years ago that proved vital to human evo­lu­tion and our migra­tion out of Africa. You can access the full series in audio via iTunes, RSS Feed, as well as oth­er for­mats found here. A big thanks to Stephen in the UK for flag­ging this pro­duc­tion for us.

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Comments (5)
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  • Thank you for this.. I grew up in Lon­don and would often vis­it the British Muse­um which was just a bus ride from my sec­ondary school. I knew it was a bit spe­cial and that I was sur­round­ed by cul­tur­al arte­facts from around the world. I nev­er realised that some­thing as sim­ple as the stone axes which I prob­a­bly rushed by in order to see the Aztec exhi­bi­tion or the ancient Egypt­ian Gallery, were, with­out doubt the most suc­cess­ful tech­no­log­i­cal inven­tion in the his­to­ry of man. Well done B.B.C. and the British Muse­um and well done Open Cul­ture for pub­li­cis­ing these pro­grammes and the web­site that goes along with it.

  • Thank you for this post on the “His­to­ry of the World in 100 objects”…

    A qual­i­ty pro­gramme…

  • Sarah Louise says:

    thanks for this, and it cer­tain­ly is a total­ly won­der­ful and impor­tant series. Huge & impor­tant expan­sion of the cul­tur­al com­mons. How­ev­er I am con­cerned, and have blogged, that it is at least in part about strength­en­ing the case for keep­ing the objects in the BM, as it is about what they have to tell us, and this should be part of the dis­course about the pro­gramme. Despite all the glitz, I think the very tech­nol­o­gy used actu­al­ly makes the oppo­site case.

  • mike wetherill says:

    Fas­ci­nat­ing piece on Croe­sus. You might men­tioned, how­ev­er, that chru­sos (approx­i­mate transcription)is Greek for gold…

  • Joanna Clark says:

    I have a met­al dog col­lar on which it says “If on my Col­lar Look to See Whose Dog I be I am JOHN COULMANS Dog and no Prest man You See Iam Entered on Bord the——-A Vol­un­teer for Life both to Serve my Mas­ter and his Good Wife 1771.” We do not know any­thing about John Coul­man. My grand­moth­er found this col­lar in Bre­con, mid Wales in the 1920s or 1930s. It is inter­est­ing as it shows a lit­tle about sail­ing in the 1700s.

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