A History of the World in 100 Objects

Front Cover
Penguin UK, Oct 6, 2011 - History - 640 pages

This book takes a dramatically original approach to the history of humanity, using objects which previous civilisations have left behind them, often accidentally, as prisms through which we can explore past worlds and the lives of the men and women who lived in them. The book's range is enormous. It begins with one of the earliest surviving objects made by human hands, a chopping tool from the Olduvai gorge in Africa, and ends with an object from the 21st century which represents the world we live in today.

Neil MacGregor's aim is not simply to describe these remarkable things, but to show us their significance - how a stone pillar tells us about a great Indian emperor preaching tolerance to his people, how Spanish pieces of eight tell us about the beginning of a global currency or how an early Victorian tea-set tells us about the impact of empire. Each chapter immerses the reader in a past civilisation accompanied by an exceptionally well-informed guide. Seen through this lens, history is a kaleidoscope - shifting, interconnected, constantly surprising, and shaping our world today in ways that most of us have never imagined. An intellectual and visual feast, it is one of the most engrossing and unusual history books published in years.


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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - bostonian71 - LibraryThing

Fantastic resource for anyone who loves history, culture and/or museums. Even though the title reads *A* history, it could've been called *The* history, given the sheer breadth of the themes and ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - murderbydeath - LibraryThing

Wow, this book took awhile for me to get through. So much interesting information that I had to read only a few sections per sitting if I had any hope of retaining what I read. I found the objects to ... Read full review


Mission Impossible
Signals from the Past
PART ONEMaking us Human
1Mummy of Hornedjitef
2Olduvai Stone Chopping Tool
3Olduvai Handaxe
4Swimming Reindeer
5Clovis Spear Point
53Lothair Crystal
54Statue of Tara
55Chinese Tang Tomb Figures
PART TWELVEPilgrims Raiders and Traders
56Vale of York Hoard
57Hedwig Beaker
58Japanese Bronze Mirror
59Borobudur Buddha Head

Food and Sex
6Birdshaped Pestle
7Ain Sakhri Lovers Figurine
8Egyptian Clay Model of Cattle
9Maya Maize God Statue
10Jomon Pot
PART THREEThe First Cities and States
11King Dens Sandal Label
12Standard of Ur
13Indus Seal
14Jade Axe
15Early Writing Tablet
PART FOURThe Beginnings of Science and Literature
16Flood Tablet
17Rhind Mathematical Papyrus
18Minoan Bullleaper
19Mold Gold Cape
20Statue of Ramesses II
PART FIVEOld World New Powers
21Lachish Reliefs
22Sphinx of Taharqo
23Chinese Zhou Ritual Vessel
24Paracas Textile
25Gold Coin of Croesus
PART SIXThe World in the Age of Confucius
26Oxus Chariot Model
Centaur and Lapith
28BasseYutz Flagons
29Olmec Stone Mask
30Chinese Bronze Bell
PART SEVENEmpire Builders
31Coin with Head of Alexander
32Pillar of Ashoka
33Rosetta Stone
34Chinese Han Lacquer Cup
35Head of Augustus
PART EIGHTAncient Pleasures Modern Spice
36Warren Cup
37North American Otter Pipe
38Ceremonial Ballgame Belt
39Admonitions Scroll
40Hoxne Pepper Pot
PART NINEThe Rise of World Faiths
41Seated Buddha from Gandhara
42Gold Coins of Kumaragupta I
43Plate showing Shapur II
44Hinton St Mary Mosaic
45Arabian Bronze Hand
PART TENThe Silk Road and Beyond
46Gold Coins of Abd alMalik
47Sutton Hoo Helmet
48Moche Warrior Pot
49Korean Roof Tile
50Silk Princess Painting
Secrets at Court
51Maya Relief of Royal Bloodletting
52Harem Wallpainting Fragments
60Kilwa Pot Sherds
61The Lewis Chessmen
62Hebrew Astrolabe
63Ife Head
64The David Vases
65Taino Ritual Seat
PART FOURTEENMeeting the Gods
66Holy Thorn Reliquary
67Icon of the Triumph of Orthodoxy
68Shiva and Parvati Sculpture
69Sculpture of Huastec Goddess
70Hoa Hakananaia Easter Island Statue
PART FIFTEENThe Threshold of the Modern World
71Tughra of Suleiman the Magnificent
72Ming Banknote
73Inca Gold Llama
74Jade Dragon Cup
75Dürers Rhinoceros
PART SIXTEENThe First Global Economy
76Mechanical Galleon
The Oba with Europeans
78Doubleheaded Serpent
79Kakiemon Elephants
80Pieces of Eight
PART SEVENTEENTolerance and Intolerance
81Shia Religious Parade Standard
82Miniature of a Mughal Prince
83Shadow Puppet of Bima
84Mexican Codex Map
85Reformation Centenary Broadsheet
PART EIGHTEENExploration Exploitation and Enlightenment
86Akan Drum
87Hawaiian Feather Helmet
88North American Buckskin Map
89Australian Bark Shield
90Jade Bi
PART NINETEENMass Production Mass Persuasion
91Ships Chronometer from HMS Beagle
92Early Victorian Tea Set
93Hokusais The Great Wave
94Sudanese Slit Drum
95Suffragettedefaced Penny
PART TWENTYThe World of Our Making
96Russian Revolutionary Plate
97Hockneys In the Dull Village
98Throne of Weapons
99Credit Card
100Solarpowered Lamp and Charger
List of Objects
Picture Credits and Text Acknowledgements

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About the author (2011)

Neil MacGregor was Director of the National Gallery, London from 1987 to 2002 and of the British Museum from 2002 to 2015, and Chair of the Steering Committee of the Humboldt Forum in Berlin from 2015 to 2018. His previous books include A History of the World in 100 Objects, Shakespeare's Restless World and Germany: Memories of a Nation, all available in Penguin and now between them translated into more than a dozen languages. In 2010, he was made a member of the Order of Merit, the UK's highest civil honour. In 2015 he was awarded the Goethe Medal and the German National Prize. In 2018 the radio series Living with the Gods received the Sandford Saint Martin Award for Religious Broadcasting.

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