A History Of The World In 100 Objects [Ancient Pleasures, Modern Spice (1 - 600 Ad)]

Episodes

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03Ceremonial Ballgame Belt2010052620201209 (R4)Neil MacGregor's history of humanity as told through one hundred objects that time has left behind. This week he is looking at objects of leisure and pleasure around the world about 2000 years ago. How were we amusing ourselves back then? Today's object is a large stone belt, a heavyweight ceremonial version of the leather and fibre padding that was used in an ancient ball game in central America. This was a game with a rubber ball that dates back as far as three and a half thousand years ago - the world's oldest known organised sport. Neil offers up the rules of the game and describes how it connected players to the realm of their gods. The historian Michael Whittington considers the ritual aspects of the game while the writer Nick Hornby describes how sport straddles the emotional territory between the sacred and the profane.

Producer: Anthony Denselow

Neil MacGregor discovers the oldest ball game on earth.

Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells humanity's history through objects

04Admonitions Scroll2010052720201210 (R4)Throughout this week, Neil MacGregor has been exploring pleasure and recreation across the world of 200 years ago. Today he arrives in China to explore a painting based on a poem that attempts to define the proper behaviour for women during the tumultuous time that followed the collapse of the Han Empire. This eleven foot long scroll offers a guide to manners along well established Confucian principles. Neil MacGregor tells the story of the scroll and finds out what it is was about women's behaviour that was so worrying men of the period. The historian Shane McCausland, the politician Charles Powell, and the Chinese art expert Jan Stuart help paint the picture.

Producer: Anthony Denselow

Neil MacGregor and an ancient Chinese scroll that rules on how women should behave.

Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells humanity's history through objects

05Hoxne Pepper Pot2010052820201211 (R4)Neil MacGregor's world history told through objects at the British Museum arrives in Britain at the time of the Roman collapse. Throughout this week he has been looking at how different cultures around the globe were pursuing pleasure, roughly 2000 years ago, from smoking in North America to team sports in Central America.

Today, Neil looks at how the elite of Roman Britain sustained their appetite for luxury goods and good living in the years before their demise. He tells the story through a silver pepper pot that was discovered as part of a buried hoard - hidden possibly by Romans on the run. He describes the ambitions of the elite in Roman Britain and how they satisfied their particular taste for pepper, with contributions from the food writer Christine McFadden and historian Roberta Tomber.

Producer: Anthony Denselow

Neil MacGregor uses a silver pepper pot to tell of the Roman spice trade with India.

Director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, retells humanity's history through objects