A History Of The World In 100 Objects Omnibus

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01Making Us Human2010030520111120 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear the director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor retell the history of human development using 100 selected objects from the Museum - from the first stone axe to the credit card.

His history covers two million years and includes items that were made in every part of the globe.

In this programme, an omnibus of the first five objects of the series, Neil begins by recalling the first object that enthralled him a young boy of eight, an Egyptian mummy, before examining the the earliest examples of human ingenuity from Africa, America and Europe.

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.

Neil then goes back 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.

This obsession has long roots and Neil introduces one of the earliest examples of human ingenuity.

Faced with the need to cut meat from carcasses, early humans in Africa discovered how to shape stones into cutting tools.

From that one innovation springs a whole history human development.

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

Neil then 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.

He tells the story of the hand axe with contributions from flint-napper Phil Harding, designer Sir James Dyson and archaeologist Nick Ashton.

Next up is one of the earliest works of art.

It 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.

Its place in the history of art and religion is considered with contributions from the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams and archaelogist Professor Steven Mithen.

Finally, Neil heads west to North America and an object that dates from the earliest settlements there, around 13,000 years ago.

It is a deadly hunting weapon, used by the first inhabitants of the Americas.

This sharp spearhead lets us understand how humans spread across the globe.

By 11000 BC humans had moved from northeast Asia into the uninhabited wilderness of north America; within 2,000 years they had populated the whole continent.

How did these hunters live? And how does their Asian origin sit with the creation stories of modern-day Native Americans? Neil tells the story of the Clovis Point, with contributions from Michael Palin and American archaeologist Gary Haynes.

If you'd like to see the objects described in the programme, up-close and from all angles, then go online to www.bbc.co.uk/ahistoryoftheworld.

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum, presents his first five objects.

Neil MacGregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

02After The Ice Age2010031220111127 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear the Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor retell the history of human development using 100 selected objects from the Museum.

In this programme, he explores the profound changes that humans experienced at the end of the Ice Age.

By this period, humanity is reconsidering its place in the world and turning its attention to food, power, worship and human relationships.

But then, as now, one of the most important parts of human existence was finding enough food to survive.

Taking a pestle from Papua New Guinea as an example, Neil asks why our ancestors decided to grow and cook new foods.

The answer provides us with a telling insight into the way early humans settled on the land.

Becoming farmers and eating food that was harder for other animals to digest made us a formidable force in the food chain.

The impact on our environment of this shift to cookery and cultivation is still being felt.

Neil is joined by Indian food writer Madhur Jaffrey, campaigner Sir Bob Geldof and archaeologist Professor Martin Jones.

Neil then goes on to investigate a palm-sized stone sculpture that was found near Bethlehem.

It clearly shows a couple entwined in the act of love.

The contemporary sculptor Marc Quinn responds to the stone as art and the archaeologist Dr Ian Hodder considers the Natufian society that produced it.

What was human life and society actually like all those years ago? Possibly a lot more sophisticated than we imagine.

For his third item in the programme Neil selects four miniature clay cows made from Nile mud in Egypt 5,500 years ago, way before the time of the pyramids or the pharaohs.

Why did the Egyptians start burying objects like this one with their dead? Neil goes in search life and death on the Nile and discovers how the domestication of cattle made the humble cow transform human existence.

Neil then switches his focus to 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, becomes 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

Finally, Neil moves to Japan and the story of a 7,000-year-old clay pot which has managed to remain almost perfectly intact.

Pots began in Japan around 17,000 years ago and by the time this pot was made had achieved a remarkable sophistication.

The archaeologists Professor Takeshi Doi and Simon Kaner describe the significance of agriculture to the Jomon and the way in which they made their pots and used decorations from the natural world around them.

This particular pot is remarkable in that it was lined with gold leaf in perhaps the 18th century and used in that quintessentially Japanese ritual, the tea ceremony.

This simple clay object makes a fascinating connection between the Japan of today and the emerging world of people in Japan at the end of the Ice Age.

Neil MacGregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

03The First Cities And States (4000 - 2000 Bc)2010031920111204 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear the Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor retell the history of human development using 100 selected objects from the Museum.

In this programme he investigates the impact on human society of large numbers of people coming together in the world's first cities between 5000 and 2000 BC.

As they did so, they developed new trade links, the first handwriting, and new forms of leadership and beliefs.

All of these innovations are present in Neil's first object: a small label made of hippo ivory that was attached to the sandal that one of the earliest known kings of Egypt, King Den, took his grave.

The label not only depicts the king in battle against unknown foes but also boasts the first writing in this history of the world: hieroglyphs that describe the king and his military conquests.

Is this just the first indication that there would never be civilisation without war?

For his second item, Neil considers a set of mosaics from the ancient Mesopotamian city of Ur, now in southern Iraq.

The Standard of Ur shows powerful images of battle and regal life and remains remarkably well preserved given its four and a half thousand year old history.

Contributors include sociologist Anthony Giddens, who discuss the growing sophistication of societies at this time, and the archaeologist Lamia Al-Gailani, who considers what Ancient Mesopotamia means to the people of modern day Iraq.

Neil then moves on to the ancient city of Harappa which lies around 150 miles north of Lahore in Pakistan.

It was once one of the great centres of a civilisation that has largely disappeared, one with vast trade connections and boasting several of the world's first cities.

At a time when another great civilisation was being forged along the banks of the river Nile in Egypt, Neil investigates this much less well-known civilisation on the banks of the Indus Valley.

He introduces us to a series of little stone seals that are 4,500 years old, covered in carved images of animals and probably used in trade.

The civilisation built over 100 cities, some with sophisticated sanitation systems, big scale architecture and even designed around a modern grid layout.

The great modern architect Sir Richard Rogers considers the urban planning of the Indus Valley, and the historian Nayanjot Lahiri looks at how this lost civilisation is remembered by both modern India and Pakistan.

In Britain at that time, life was much simpler, although trade links with Europe were well established.

For his next item, Neil tells the story of a beautiful piece of jade, shaped into an axe head.

It is about 6,000 years old and was discovered near Canterbury in Kent but was made in the high Alps.

He tells the story of how this object may have been used and traded and how its source was cunningly traced to the heart of Europe.

For his final item in this programme, Neil celebrates the arrival of writing into our history with a 5,000-year-old clay tablet from Mesopotamia that deals not in poetry but in describing the local beer.

The philosopher John Searle describes what the invention of writing does for the human mind and Britain's top civil servant Gus O'Donnell considers the tablet as an example of possibly the earliest bureaucracy.

Neil MacGregor investigates the impact of the world's first cities.

04The Beginnings Of Science And Literature2010032620111211 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear the Director of the British Museum Neil MacGregor retell the history of human development using 100 selected objects from the Museum.

He begins with a small tablet 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.

Neil then moves on to describe the British Museum's most famous mathematical papyrus.

This shows how and why the ancient Egyptians were dealing with numbers around 1550 BC.

It contains 84 different calculations to help with various aspects of Egyptian life, from pyramid building to working out how much grain it takes to fatten a goose.

Neil describes it as 'a crammer for a dazzling career in an ancient civil service.'

Then its Crete around 1700BC and the story both of man's fascination with bulls and the emergence of one of most cosmopolitan and prosperous civilisations in the history of the Eastern Mediterranean: the Minoans.

The Minoans of Crete were more powerful than the mainland and enjoyed a complex and still largely unknown culture.

They enjoyed a ritual connection with bulls and a rich bronze-making tradition.

To consider the Minoans and the role of the bull in myth and legend, Neil introduces us to a small bronze sculpture of a man leaping over a bull, one of the highlights of the British Museum's Minoan collection.

He explores the vast network of trade routes in the Mediterranean of the time, encounters an ancient shipwreck and tracks down a modern day bull leaper to try and figure out the attraction.

In 1833 a group of workmen were looking for stones in a field near the village of Mold in North Wales when they unearthed a burial site with a skeleton covered by a crushed sheet of pure gold.

For his fourth item in this programme, Neil tells the story of what has become known at the British Museum as the Mold Gold Cape and tries to envisage the society that made it.

He has already described the contemporary courts of the pharaohs of Egypt and the palaces of the Minoans in Crete; nothing like that seems to have existed in Britain at that time but he imagines a people with surprisingly sophisticated skills and social structures.

Finally, Neil stands under 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 the sculptor Antony Gormley, the man responsible for a contemporary giant statue, The Angel of the North, assesses the towering figure of Ramesses as an enduring work of art.

Neil MacGregor investigates self expression through words and numbers.

05Old World, New Powers (1100-300 Bc)2010040220111218 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear "A History of the World in a Hundred Objects", where the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of humanity through the things it has made...

and which have found their way into the Museum's collection.

This week he is looking at the key power struggles taking place across the globe around 3000 years ago, as ambitious new forces were building sophisticated new societies.

And he does so with the help of: a set of stone carvings depicting, perhaps for the first time, the terrible effects of war on civilian populations; a stone sphinx of a black ruler that conquered Egypt from the south; a Chinese bronze bowl buried with the dead for feasts in the afterlife; a set of brightly coloured textiles from the Peruvian peninsula of Paracas; and what may well be amongst the world's first proper coins, minted during the reign of Croesus.

And amongst those on hand to plot the wider significance of these objects in our world history are Lord Ashdown, Zeinab Badawi, Dame Jessica Rawson, Dr Wang Tao, Zandra Rhodes and James Buchan.

Producers: Rebecca Stratford, Anthony Denselow and Paul Kobrak.

Neil MacGregor explores the rise of new societies 3,000 years ago.

Another chance to hear A History of the World in a Hundred Objects", where the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells the history of humanity through the things it has made...

Neil MacGregor explores power struggles across the world 3,000 years ago."

06The World In The Age Of Confucius (500 - 300 Bc)2010040920111225 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retell the history of human development using 100 selected objects from the Museum. This week, in the last of the current run of Omnibus programmes, he explores the emergence of powerful new cultures and new rulers across the world, around two and a half thousand years ago. Accompanied by the likes of Carlos Fuentes, Evelyn Glennie, Olga Palagia, Jonathan Meades, Sir Barry Cunliffe and Isabel Hilton, Neil considers the wider historical significance of: a small gold chariot from the Persian Empire of Cyrus; one of the contested marble sculptures from the Parthenon; a pair of bronze drinking flagons from Northern Europe; a small Mexican mask from the "mother culture" of central America whose existence was only uncovered in the past hundred years; and a bronze bell from China in the time of Confucius.

Producers: Anthony Denselow and Paul Kobrak.

Five more items in Neil MacGregor's history of humanity through the objects it has made.

Another chance to hear the Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retell the history of human development using 100 selected objects from the Museum.

This week, in the last of the current run of Omnibus programmes, he explores the emergence of powerful new cultures and new rulers across the world, around two and a half thousand years ago.

Accompanied by the likes of Carlos Fuentes, Evelyn Glennie, Olga Palagia, Jonathan Meades, Sir Barry Cunliffe and Isabel Hilton, Neil considers the wider historical significance of: a small gold chariot from the Persian Empire of Cyrus; one of the contested marble sculptures from the Parthenon; a pair of bronze drinking flagons from Northern Europe; a small Mexican mask from the mother culture" of central America whose existence was only uncovered in the past hundred years; and a bronze bell from China in the time of Confucius.

07Empire Builders (300 Bc - 1 Ad)2010071620120101 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear the first programmes in the second part of Neil MacGregor's global history told through objects from the British Museum. This week Neil 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.

Contributors include the economist Amartya Sen, the politician Boris Johnson, political commentator Andrew Marr and the writer Ahdaf Soueif.

Neil begins by telling the story of Alexander the Great through a small silver coin, one that was made years after his death but that portrays an idealised image of the great leader as a vigorous young man. Neil then considers how the great Indian ruler Ashoka turned his back on violence and plunder to promote the ethical codes inspired by Buddhism. Neil tells the life story of Ashoka through a remaining fragment of one of his great pillar edicts and considers his legacy in the Indian sub-continent today. The third object in today's omnibus is one of the best known in the British Museum, the Rosetta Stone. Neil takes us to the Egypt of Ptolemy V and describes the astonishing contest that led to the most famous bits of deciphering in history - the cracking of the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone. An exquisite lacquer wine cup takes Neil to Han Dynasty China in the fourth programme and the omnibus concludes with the 2000 year old head of one of the world's most notorious rulers - Caesar Augustus.

Producers: Anthony Denselow and Paul Kobrak.

Neil MacGregor explores the lives of powerful rulers around the world over 2,000 years ago

Another chance to hear the first programmes in the second part of Neil Macgregor's global history told through objects from the British Museum.

This week Neil 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.

Neil begins by telling the story of Alexander the Great through a small silver coin, one that was made years after his death but that portrays an idealised image of the great leader as a vigorous young man.

Neil then considers how the great Indian ruler Ashoka turned his back on violence and plunder to promote the ethical codes inspired by Buddhism.

Neil tells the life story of Ashoka through a remaining fragment of one of his great pillar edicts and considers his legacy in the Indian sub-continent today.

The third object in today's omnibus is one of the best known inhabitants of the British Museum, the Rosetta Stone.

Neil takes us to the Egypt of Ptolemy V and describes the astonishing contest that led to the most famous decipherment in history - the cracking of the hieroglyphics on the Rosetta Stone.

An exquisite lacquer wine cup takes Neil to Han Dynasty China in the fourth programme and the omnibus concludes with the 2000 year old head of one of the world's most famous rulers - Caesar Augustus.

Neil Macgregor explores the lives of powerful rulers around the world 2,000 years ago.

08Ancient Pleasures, Modern Spice (ad 1 - 500)2010072320120108 (BBC7)

Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection. In this episode, Neil is exploring the ways in which people were seeking pleasure around the world 2000 years ago, from pipe smoking in North America to court etiquette in China and the conspicuous consumption of pepper in Roman England. But he begins his investigation with a silver cup that offers a rare glimpse into the world of sex in ancient Rome.

Producers: Paul Kobrak and Anthony Denselow.

Neil Macgregor presents an omnibus edition of five more items in his history of humanity.

Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode, Neil is exploring the ways in which people were seeking pleasure around the world 2000 years ago, from pipe smoking in North America to court etiquette in China and the conspicuous consumption of pepper in Roman England.

But he begins his investigation with a silver cup that offers a rare glimpse into the world of sex in ancient Rome.

09The Rise Of World Faiths (ad 100 - 600)2010073020120115 (BBC7)

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection. In this episode he is looking at the way the world's great religions began to perfect a way to visually express the divine, less than 2000 years ago.

He begins with a stone sculpture from modern day Pakistan that would create the classic image of the real life Buddha who lived and roamed around North India in the 5th Century BC. His journey takes him onwards to Damascus, modern day Iran and Dorset in Great Britain.

Producers: Paul Kobrak and Anthony Denselow.

Neil MacGregor explores the way the world's great religions began to portray the divine.

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode he is looking at the way the world's great religions began to perfect a way to visually express the divine, less than 2000 years ago.

He begins with a stone sculpture from modern day Pakistan that would create the classic image of the real life Buddha who lived and roamed around North India in the 5th Century BC.

His journey takes him onwards to Damascus, modern day Iran and Dorset in Great Britain.

10The Silk Road And Beyond (ad 400 - 800)2010080620120129 (BBC7)

Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode 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. He begins by discovering how the Syrian capital Damascus was rapidly becoming the centre of a new Islamic empire. His journey then takes him onwards to Korea, Peru and Sutton Hoo in Great Britain.

Producers: Paul Kobrak and Anthony Denselow.

Neil Macgregor explores the world along and beyond the Silk Road 1300 years ago.

In this episode 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.

He begins by discovering how the Syrian capital Damascus was rapidly becoming the centre of a new Islamic empire.

His journey then takes him onwards to Korea, Peru and Sutton Hoo in Great Britain.

Neil Macgregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

11Inside The Palace: Secrets At Court (ad 700 - 800)2010081320120205 (BBC7)

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode he is using objects from the collection to gain insight into the private lives of some very powerful people. From inside a harem to inside a Chinese grave, Neil enters the intriguing, even painful, realms of great royal courts of the world.

Producers: Paul Kobrak and Anthony Denselow.

Neil MacGregor explores the private lives of the powerful.

In this episode he is using objects from the collection to gain insight into the private lives of some very powerful people.

From inside a harem to inside a Chinese grave, Neil enters the intriguing, even painful, realms of great royal courts of the world.

12Pilgrims, Raiders And Traders (ad 800 - 1300)2010082020120212 (BBC7)

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects that history has left behind.

This week Neil has chosen objects that bring to life the traders, pilgrims and raiders who swept across the vast expanse of Europe and Asia between the 9th and 13th centuries.

His quest takes him to a glass beaker that is believed to turn water into wine and a thorn said to be from Christ's crown of thorns, but he begins with a great Viking treasure hoard that was discovered by metal detectors in a field in North Yorkshire in Britain.

Producers: Paul Kobrak and Anthony Denselow.

The traders, pilgrims and raiders who swept across Europe and Asia from the 9th century.

13Status Symbols (ad 1100 - 1500)2010082720120219 (BBC7)

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

This week he sheds light on some of the great status symbols of taste and power, as owned by the wealthy and well-informed around 700 years ago. His journey takes him from China to Nigeria and from Spain to the Caribbean, but he begins in Scotland with the story of probably the world's best known board game, in the company of the Lewis Chessmen.

Producers: Paul Kobrak and Anthony Denselow.

Neil MacGregor explores the great status symbols of taste and power around 700 years ago.

This week he sheds light on some of the great status symbols of taste and power, as owned by the wealthy and well-informed around 700 years ago.

His journey takes him from China to Nigeria and from Spain to the Caribbean, but he begins in Scotland with the story of probably the world's best known board game, in the company of the Lewis Chessmen.

14Meeting The Gods2010090320120226 (BBC7)

Neil Macgregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made and this week he is exploring the sophisticated ways that people expressed religious yearning in the 14th and 15th centuries.

In this ominbus edition, Neil encounters the statues of gods and ancestors - in India, Mexico and on Easter Island - and he describes the importance of icon painting in the Orthodox Church.

But he begins with an object designed to connect with Christ himself - a stunning Christian reliquary from medieval Europe made to house a thorn from the crown of thorns

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Neil Macgregor examines religious relics from the 14th and 15th centuries.

Neil Macgregor examines religious relics from the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.

15Threshold Of The Modern World (ad 1375-1550)2010102920120304 (BBC7)

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In about 1450 a string of great empires dominated the world.

The Ottoman Turks were threatening Europe with invasion.

Asia was dominated by Ming China and the Timurid Empire, but the world's largest state was the Inca Empire in South America.

Europe, in contrast, was a patchwork of squabbling powers.

Yet there were the first signs of a shift towards a connection of all the world's continents by European exploration that would mark the beginning of a recognisably modern world.

These new maritime empires brought Europe's fragmented kingdoms great wealth.

The rhinoceros that inspired Durer's iconic print was a present from an Indian Sultan to a Portuguese governor.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Neil MacGregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

In about 1450 a string of great empires dominated the world. The Ottoman Turks were threatening Europe with invasion. Asia was dominated by Ming China and the Timurid Empire, but the world's largest state was the Inca Empire in South America. Europe, in contrast, was a patchwork of squabbling powers. Yet there were the first signs of a shift towards a connection of all the world's continents by European exploration that would mark the beginning of a recognisably modern world. These new maritime empires brought Europe's fragmented kingdoms great wealth. The rhinoceros that inspired Durer's iconic print was a present from an Indian Sultan to a Portuguese governor.

16First Global Economy (ad 1450-1600)2010110520120311 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continue his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode he focuses on Europe's expanding maritime empire which created the world's first global economy. Spanish pieces of eight were used as currency from the new world of the Americas to Japan. The Dutch East India Company was a multinational conglomeration transporting goods from the Far East to a European market. Different cultures were brought into contract for the first time with varying results. When Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico it led to the destruction of the Aztec Empire. In contrast, the relationship between the Portuguese and the kingdom of Benin was mutually beneficial, with Portuguese sailors providing much-desired brass in exchange for ivory and palm oil.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Neil MacGregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

In this episode he focuses on Europe's expanding maritime empire which created the world's first global economy.

Spanish pieces of eight were used as currency from the new world of the Americas to Japan.

The Dutch East India Company was a multinational conglomeration transporting goods from the Far East to a European market.

Different cultures were brought into contract for the first time with varying results.

When Spanish explorers arrived in Mexico it led to the destruction of the Aztec Empire.

In contrast, the relationship between the Portuguese and the kingdom of Benin was mutually beneficial, with Portuguese sailors providing much-desired brass in exchange for ivory and palm oil.

17Tolerance And Intolerance (ad 1550-1700)2010111220120318 (BBC7)

Another chance to hears Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, as continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection. In this episode, he looks at the great religions of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Protestant Reformation split the western Church into two rival factions and triggered Europe's final major religious war. The failure of either side to achieve victory in the Thirty Years War would lead to a period of religious tolerance in Europe. Three great Islamic powers dominated Eurasia: the Ottomans in Turkey, the Mughals in India and the Safavids in Iran. The Mughals promoted religious tolerance, allowing the Indian subcontinent's largely non-Islamic population to continue to worship as they pleased. In Iran the Safavids created the world's first major Shi'i state. Exploration and trade provided opportunities for religions to attract new followers. Catholicism in Central America and Islam in South East Asia both adapted to accommodate the existing rituals of their new converts.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Neil Macgregor looks at the great religions of the 16th and 17th centuries.

Another chance to hears Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, as continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode, he looks at the great religions of the 16th and 17th centuries.

The Protestant Reformation split the western Church into two rival factions and triggered Europe's final major religious war.

The failure of either side to achieve victory in the Thirty Years War would lead to a period of religious tolerance in Europe.

Three great Islamic powers dominated Eurasia: the Ottomans in Turkey, the Mughals in India and the Safavids in Iran.

The Mughals promoted religious tolerance, allowing the Indian subcontinent's largely non-Islamic population to continue to worship as they pleased.

In Iran the Safavids created the world's first major Shi'i state.

Exploration and trade provided opportunities for religions to attract new followers.

Catholicism in Central America and Islam in South East Asia both adapted to accommodate the existing rituals of their new converts.

Neil Macgregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

18Exploration, Exploitation And Englightenment (ad 1680-1820)2010111920120325 (BBC7)

Another chance to hear Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continue his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode, he tackles the age of enlightment when scientific learning and philosophical thought flourished. Although often associated with reason, liberty and progress, the Enlightenment was also a period of European imperial expansion when the transatlantic slave trade was at its height. Important advances in navigation allowed European sailors to explore the Pacific more thoroughly, and for the first time the indigenous cultures of Hawaii and Australia were connected with the rest of the world. Europe was not the world's only successful growing economy, China, under the Qing dynasty, was regarded by many as the greatest empire the world had ever seen.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Neil Macgregor focuses on the age of enlightment when science and philosophy flourished.

In this episode, he tackles the age of enlightment when scientific learning and philosophical thought flourished.

Although often associated with reason, liberty and progress, the Enlightenment was also a period of European imperial expansion when the transatlantic slave trade was at its height.

Important advances in navigation allowed European sailors to explore the Pacific more thoroughly, and for the first time the indigenous cultures of Hawaii and Australia were connected with the rest of the world.

Europe was not the world's only successful growing economy, China, under the Qing dynasty, was regarded by many as the greatest empire the world had ever seen.

Neil Macgregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

19Mass Production, Mass Persuasion (ad 1780-1914)2010112620120401 (BBC7)

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection. In this episode, Neil concentates on the period between the French Revolution and the First World War, when the countries of Europe and the USA were transformed from agricultural to industrial economies. At the same time, their empires around the world grew. Technological innovation led to the mass production of goods and growing international trade. Previously luxuries, like tea and Wedgewood pottery, became affordable to the masses. In many countries, movements pressed for political and social reforms, including the right for all men and women to be able to vote. The industrial revolutions of the West were partly funded by resources from Europe's expanding colonial empires. Only one non-western country, Japan, successfully embraced modernisation and emerged as an imperial power in its own right.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Neil MacGregor retells humanity's history through the objects it has made.

Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, continues his global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this episode, Neil concentates on the period between the French Revolution and the First World War, when the countries of Europe and the USA were transformed from agricultural to industrial economies.

At the same time, their empires around the world grew.

Technological innovation led to the mass production of goods and growing international trade.

Previously luxuries, like tea and Wedgewood pottery, became affordable to the masses.

In many countries, movements pressed for political and social reforms, including the right for all men and women to be able to vote.

The industrial revolutions of the West were partly funded by resources from Europe's expanding colonial empires.

Only one non-western country, Japan, successfully embraced modernisation and emerged as an imperial power in its own right.

20 LASTThe World Of Our Making (ad 1914-2010)2010120320120408 (BBC7)

Neil MacGregor, the director of the British Museum in London, finally completes his mamouth global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection. In this final episode, he brings us to the world of our own making. The 20th century saw objects used to express the power of totalitarian regimes, the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the end of Europe's colonial empires. Technological innovations have changed the way we relate to each other and the material world. The invention of man-made materials like plastic resulted in mass production and consumption on an unprecedented scale. More objects have been produced in the last 100 years than ever before. Yet many of these new objects are ephemeral and disposable. This raises questions about the environment, global resources, and sustainability. But, as has been true for almost 2 million years, the objects we use to face these challenges will go on to reveal our history to future generations.

Producer: Paul Kobrak.

Neil MacGregor completes his long history of humanity with 20th and 21st century objects.

Neil Macgregor, the director of the British Museum in London, finally completes his mamouth global history as told through objects from the Museum's collection.

In this final episode, he brings us to the world of our own making.

The 20th century saw objects used to express the power of totalitarian regimes, the sexual revolution of the 1960s and the end of Europe's colonial empires.

Technological innovations have changed the way we relate to each other and the material world.

The invention of man-made materials like plastic resulted in mass production and consumption on an unprecedented scale.

More objects have been produced in the last 100 years than ever before.

Yet many of these new objects are ephemeral and disposable.

This raises questions about the environment, global resources, and sustainability.

But, as has been true for almost 2 million years, the objects we use to face these challenges will go on to reveal our history to future generations.

Neil Macgregor completes his history of humanity, told through the objects it has made.