A History of the World in 100 Objects

Last year, the BBC Radio 4 and the British Museum partnered to produce a podcast featuring the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, who, over the course of 100 “episodes”, told the history of mankind through objects.  Working his way chronologically through the beginning of human existence in and working his way up to the present, MacGregor chose 100 different objects in the museum’s collection to illustrate watershed moments in human culture and civilization.

The oldest object is called the Olduvai stone chopping tool, dated between 1.8 to 2 million years old.

I listened to these podcasts in quick succession while packing up my belonging in Austin.  Now, many years out of school, I don’t have the pleasure of learning much about history anymore, and I’ve forgotten how much I enjoyed it.  All of those people who lived before!  Who worked, thought, were brought to anger, felt compassion, loved, felt, now dead.

This series also reminded me about how very much our stuff — practical items, cherished mementos,  throwaway consumables, coveted objects — say about our lives.

See a list of all 100 objects here.


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