World In The Age Of Confucius (500 - 300 Bc), The [A History Of The World In 100 Objects]

Episodes

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01Oxus Chariot Model2010022220200824 (R4)

Neil MacGregor's world history told through objects at the British Museum arrives in Persia 2500 years ago. Throughout this week, Neil is looking at powerful leaders across the ancient world. Today he focuses on Cyrus, the first Persian emperor who created the largest empire the world had ever known. It stretched from Turkey to Pakistan and required a hugely sophisticated network of communications and control.

At the heart of today's programme is a gold chariot pulled by four gold horses. This hand-sized model helps explain the rule of Cyrus, the "king of kings", and his ambitions for his vast territory - with contributions from the historian Tom Holland and Michael Axworthy of the University of Exeter. How does this glorious pre-Islamic past sit with the people of Iran today?

Neil MacGregor tells the story of a tiny gold chariot from ancient Persia.

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

01Oxus Chariot Model2010022220200824 (R4)Neil MacGregor's world history told through objects at the British Museum arrives in Persia 2500 years ago. Throughout this week, Neil is looking at powerful leaders across the ancient world. Today he focuses on Cyrus, the first Persian emperor who created the largest empire the world had ever known. It stretched from Turkey to Pakistan and required a hugely sophisticated network of communications and control.

At the heart of today's programme is a gold chariot pulled by four gold horses. This hand-sized model helps explain the rule of Cyrus, the "king of kings", and his ambitions for his vast territory - with contributions from the historian Tom Holland and Michael Axworthy of the University of Exeter. How does this glorious pre-Islamic past sit with the people of Iran today?

Neil MacGregor tells the story of a tiny gold chariot from ancient Persia.

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

02Parthenon Sculpture: Centaur + Lapith2010022320200825 (R4)

Neil MacGregor's telling of the story of humanity through individual objects at the British Museum. This week he is looking at the emergence of powerful new forces across the globe around the 5th Century BC, from Confucius in China to Cyrus in Persia.

Today he looks at the emotionally charged sculptures that were made for the Parthenon in Athens. Carved out of marble around 440BC these beautiful figures continue to generate huge controversy around the world for the fact that they remain in London and have not been returned to Greece. In today's programme the British Museum's director acknowledges the political controversy of the Elgin Marbles (named after the British Lord who carried them off) but concentrates on their artistic story and on exploring the ancient Greek world that created them. He describes a culture besotted with the myths and imagery of battle. The Greek archaeologist Olga Palagia and the classicist Mary Beard help conjure up the extraordinary city of antiquity.

Neil MacGregor with some of the world's most disputed objects - the Parthenon sculptures

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

02Parthenon Sculpture: Centaur + Lapith2010022320200825 (R4)Neil MacGregor's telling of the story of humanity through individual objects at the British Museum. This week he is looking at the emergence of powerful new forces across the globe around the 5th Century BC, from Confucius in China to Cyrus in Persia.

Today he looks at the emotionally charged sculptures that were made for the Parthenon in Athens. Carved out of marble around 440BC these beautiful figures continue to generate huge controversy around the world for the fact that they remain in London and have not been returned to Greece. In today's programme the British Museum's director acknowledges the political controversy of the Elgin Marbles (named after the British Lord who carried them off) but concentrates on their artistic story and on exploring the ancient Greek world that created them. He describes a culture besotted with the myths and imagery of battle. The Greek archaeologist Olga Palagia and the classicist Mary Beard help conjure up the extraordinary city of antiquity.

Neil MacGregor with some of the world's most disputed objects - the Parthenon sculptures

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

03Basse Yutz Flagons2010022420200826 (R4)

Neil MacGregor's history of the world recounted through objects at the British Museum arrives in Northern Europe two and a half thousand years ago.

Neil explores the early world of the Celts through two bronze drinking flagons, considered to be the most important and earliest examples of Celtic art. The writer Jonathan Meades and one of the world's leading experts on this period, Barry Cunliffe, help describe the Celts, dissect the stereotypes and consider their celebrated love of drink.

Neil MacGregor continues his material history of humanity, with the early Celts.

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

03Basse Yutz Flagons2010022420200826 (R4)Neil MacGregor's history of the world recounted through objects at the British Museum arrives in Northern Europe two and a half thousand years ago.

Neil explores the early world of the Celts through two bronze drinking flagons, considered to be the most important and earliest examples of Celtic art. The writer Jonathan Meades and one of the world's leading experts on this period, Barry Cunliffe, help describe the Celts, dissect the stereotypes and consider their celebrated love of drink.

Neil MacGregor continues his material history of humanity, with the early Celts.

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

04Olmec Stone Mask2010022520200827 (R4)

Neil MacGregor, in his history of mankind as told through objects at the British Museum, selects a miniature mask to tell the story of the Olmec - the mysterious people of ancient Mexico who lived before the time of the Aztecs or Maya.

As the Parthenon was being created in Greece and the Persians were expanding the world's biggest empire, what was life like for the "mother culture" of Central America? Neil explores the life of the Olmec and visits the remains of one of their greatest legacies. He considers their remarkable skills in mask making with the Olmec specialist Karl Taube and the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes.

Neil MacGregor's history of the world tells of a forgotten people of ancient Mexico.

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

04Olmec Stone Mask2010022520200827 (R4)Neil MacGregor, in his history of mankind as told through objects at the British Museum, selects a miniature mask to tell the story of the Olmec - the mysterious people of ancient Mexico who lived before the time of the Aztecs or Maya.

As the Parthenon was being created in Greece and the Persians were expanding the world's biggest empire, what was life like for the "mother culture" of Central America? Neil explores the life of the Olmec and visits the remains of one of their greatest legacies. He considers their remarkable skills in mask making with the Olmec specialist Karl Taube and the Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes.

Neil MacGregor's history of the world tells of a forgotten people of ancient Mexico.

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

05Chinese Bronze Bell2010022620200828 (R4)

This week Neil MacGregor is exploring the emergence of sophisticated new powers across the world 2500 years ago, from the Parthenon in Greece, to the great empire of Cyrus in Persia and the forgotten people of the Olmec in Mexico.

Today he arrives in China at the time of Confucius. He explores the Confucian view of the world with a large bronze bell - with help from the writer Isabel Hilton and the percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Confucius believed in a society that worked in harmony. How do his teachings go down in China today?

Neil Macgregor tells the story of a Chinese bronze bell from the age of Confucius

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

05Chinese Bronze Bell2010022620200828 (R4)This week Neil MacGregor is exploring the emergence of sophisticated new powers across the world 2500 years ago, from the Parthenon in Greece, to the great empire of Cyrus in Persia and the forgotten people of the Olmec in Mexico.

Today he arrives in China at the time of Confucius. He explores the Confucian view of the world with a large bronze bell - with help from the writer Isabel Hilton and the percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Confucius believed in a society that worked in harmony. How do his teachings go down in China today?

Neil Macgregor tells the story of a Chinese bronze bell from the age of Confucius

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