26 February, 2010

History of the world in 100 objects - early modern bits

A History of the World in 100 objects is a joint venture between BBC Radio and the British Museum. It is written and presented by Neil Macgregor, Director of the BM and cleverly focusses on a single object from the Museum's collection for each 15 minute radio program. The programs are aired 3 times a day (ze nation vill be educated!), Monday to Friday, and if you miss all of these are also on the BBC iPlayer....

The official website is a confusion of whirling graphics and whoever designed it should have their head chopped off, or at the very least put in the stocks for a day. Objects submitted by the general public (this is a participative exercise) mingle with the "official" objects, and I got lost in the navigation. One minute you are looking at a Chinese bronze bell from 500BC, the next at a Sutton's Seeds catalogue (albeit an old one). It's all rather confusing. At least the radio shows are available on the website permanently.

Hurray for the Radio Times, which has published a nice simple list of the 100 objects, or rather 99. The last one has yet to be revealed. According to the RT, there are 4 European objects from the 1500-1800 period in the list:

75 Dürer's Rhinoceros - 1515 (pictured above)
"A woodcut made by the German painter, said to be based on a sketch of an Indian rhino that had arrived in Lisbon that year. Described by the British Museum as one of the great images of European art."

76 The mechanical galleon - 1585 AD
"The Nef Galleon, an intricate mechanical "toy" that demonstrates the importance that ships had for Europeans."

80 Pieces of eight - 1589–1598
"Made for the Spanish empire from silver mined in the Peruvian Andes, these coins became the world's first global currency."

85 Reformation centenary broadsheet - 1617
"Produced in Leipzig to mark the centenary of the start of the Reformation. The woodblock print of Protestant propaganda is seen as a forerunner of the print media."

An interesting selection...


Hels said...

Since the history of the world covers hundreds of countries, thousands of years and millions of people, choosing only 100 important objects is going to be a tricky task.

Who got the final say, do you know? A historian and if so, what type? An anthropolgist? A cleric? Was the final judge European, Asian, African or something else? Was she a woman? Inquiring minds want to know.

joe said...

Great blog.
I love to read about history.

Indus Valley Civilization said...

Have they revealed the 100th item?

I think this is an excellent way to present history in a vibrant manner.

cardinal_wolsey said...

Apparently the British Museum is going to reveal the 100th object on October 14th . Regards CW.