iPlayer Radio What's New?

Empire Builders (300 BC - 1 AD)

Neil MacGregor continues his global history told through objects. This week he is with the great rulers of the world around 2,000 years ago

Last on

Head of Augustus

5/5 The 2,000-year-old bronze head of one of the world's most famous rulers: Caesar Augustus.

Sat 22 May 2010 00:30 BBC Radio 4

See all previous episodes from A History of the World in 100 Objects



    31 Coin with head of Alexander
    32 Pillar of Ashoka
    33 Rosetta Stone
    34 Chinese Han lacquer cup
    35 Head of Augustus

    See all 100 British Museum objects
  • Alexander the Great

    Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 334 BC ushered in an age of megalomaniac rulers and great empires. Although there had been individual empires before, this was the first time superpowers spanned the globe. Alexander became a model for other rulers to emulate or reject. Augustus, the first Roman emperor, imitated Alexander by using his own image to represent imperial power to his subjects. In contrast, the Emperor Ashoka rejected authoritarian rule, promoting his peaceful philosophy through inscriptions on pillars across the Indian subcontinent. While Ashoka’s ideals did not last long beyond his lifetime, the Roman Empire continued for the next 400 years. It was only rivalled in size and population by the Han dynasty in China.

Shakespeare's Restless World

Image for Shakespeare's Restless World

Neil MacGregor uncovers Shakespeare's world through twenty objects.

Buy online

Available on: CD

From one supplier: Amazon

Where to buy

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss