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Paul Sargeant Paul Sargeant | 16:40 UK time, Friday, 15 January 2010

A visit to the museumWelcome to the A History of the World blog.

Over the next year I hope to bring you all the news from the project, from the latest objects on the site to the best local events. I'll be talking to curators in museums around the UK and people uploading their own treasured objects. Plus, I'll be keeping an eye out for stories on historical objects in the news and what people are saying on the web.

David Prudames will be taking us behind the scenes at the British Museum, with insights into how the radio series came together, how the objects were chosen and what each week's programmes reveal about the story of who we are.

There will also be the occasional guest, starting with Neil MacGregor, the Director of the British Museum, who will give his personal introduction to the project.

The radio series kicks off on Monday, with Neil MacGregor unpicking the idea of telling history through objects by looking at the Mummy of Hornedjitef.

Finally, I'm looking forward to hearing your thoughts about the project and the objects on the site. What can objects really tell us about people seperated from us by hundreds, or thousands, of years of history? What are the real treasures on the site? And, most importantly, what are you going to add to it?

We're busy getting ready for the launch and still have a few glitches to sort out over the weekend. Let us know if you spot anything. It's going to be fascinating to see how people react to the radio series and what objects they add to the site. From Monday we're building a history of the world and, as the old joke goes, it's going to be just one thing after another.


  • Comment number 1.

    That's a very interesting idea to show history through objects. Especially concerning those pre-historic times, because we have nothing but objects and fossils left. Look forward to seeing first episods. Hope "World History" will be available to world audience and not to the UK citizens.
    Dmitry (from Russia)

  • Comment number 2.

    I have never seen so many spelling mistakes as appear under the listing for the "Jagaur E Type" (Sic). Shameful.

  • Comment number 3.

    What a pleasure it is to hear the erudition and enthusiasm of Neil MacGregor BUT this morning's programme on the Olduvai tool was blighted by unnecessary and inappropriate music and other sound effects. What we want to hear is Neil, and other experts, talking and enthusing - not a theatrical production. Why should he have to talk through music and other noises - they add nothing, and on the contrary detract from the real content of this otherwise excellent programme. Are we expected to believe that the fluting and singing in today's programme were actually going on in Olduvai 2m years ago? Surely not as they are competely anachronistic. I have been very much looking forward to this series but now find it very to listen. I'd like to hear the producers explain these unnecesary extras.

  • Comment number 4.

    Fantastic project. One quick question: is there going to be a podcast?

  • Comment number 5.

    We the moderators at congratulate you on this wonderful project for all ages, colours & creeds, something people worldwide can share in and learn from. We watched the television introduction last night and three of us chase the same the same answer as David Attenborough : ) (silicon chip) Look forward to participating.

  • Comment number 6.

    Congratulations on a fascinating approach to human history.
    Puzzled by the title however- "History of the World"; the World is roughly 4,500 million years old, but the oldest object featured is a mere 2 million years old. Analogous to discussing only the last 1-2 seconds in a an analysis of a Beethoven symphony.
    Similarly, are we really sure that man is so unique ? A variety of animals have been shown to use tools, engage in creative and decorative activity, use language, and have complex social structures. How long would it have taken for these characteristics to have evolved to human level in another species, if we had not got there first ?

  • Comment number 7.

    Thank you for bringing us such an interesting, intelligent and enlightening series. I look forward to the remaining 98 objects with great interest. Radio is so much better than TV - the emphasis is on the content rather than photogenic presenters and oft repeated 're-enactments'.

  • Comment number 8.

    An interesting project and maybe it goes some way to making accessible the super-abundance of artifacts in the BM. However, I would be pleased if objects in the BM could be returned to the area from which they came. My particular irritation is that Lindow Man was removed from Manchester Museum, and thus its geographical context, to the detriment of local history and culture. I understand the need for representative collections but the impoverishment of regional museums is inexcusable.

  • Comment number 9.

    Hello. Been incredibly busy this week. I hope that I can get back to you a bit sooner in future. Glad that everyone seems to be enjoying the series. A few points from above to pick up.
    Jeremy, the spelling on the E-Type Jaguar page wasn't great. All the descriptions are written by the museum, or individual, who added the object to the site, so we can't change them. All we can do is contact them, which we did in this case and they've corrected it. There are still a couple of misspellings on the photo caption but they're unable to change them at the moment due to a problem with our editing function. So, I guess, that what remains is now our fault not theirs.
    Crinan, I quite like the music. Don't you think it gives the whole series an epic flavour? Ben Hur marching through the desert? El Cid strapped to his horse? I guess it's a matter of personal taste.
    Lee, you'll be glad to hear that there is a podcast of every show. There will be some more obvious links to them on the site next week. In the meantime you can find the podcasts here.
    Douglas1951, interesting point. In geological terms we do seem to be the exclamation mark right at the end of the planet's lengthy, after-dinner speech. If you're interested in geology's influence on human culture, then take a look at the first episode of Professor Iain Stewart's new series How the Earth Made Us on BBC Two.
    Paul Sargeant, A History of the World blog editor

  • Comment number 10.

    The episodes,(2and3)that focused on early tools, suffered from vagueness about what is meant by 'human'. The Olduvai 'chopping tool'(2)was fashioned by a hominid (presumably that known as 'Homo Habilis', given the date)whom most people would regard as more Ape than Man. Similarly the maker of the more sophisticated handaxe was also a pre- Sapiens hominid known as 'Homo Erectus'. Neil MacGregor refers to both toolmakers simply as 'human'. Perhaps inconveniently Homo Erectus remains are found all over Europe and Asia. Is Mr.MacGregor ignoring the woolly mammoth in the living room in order to evade the politically tricky question of what, exactly, came Out of Africa?

  • Comment number 11.

    Are there any plans to publish these objects in book form at the end of the project?


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