About the project

A History of the World was a 2010 partnership between the BBC and the British Museum, involving schools, museums and audiences across the UK. This website features all the objects added to the project during the year both by museums and individuals.

You can also listen to and download all the episodes of the radio series A History of the World in 100 objects.

The series

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Fast forward through A History of the World in five minutes.

At the heart of the project was the BBC Radio 4 series A History of the World in 100 Objects. One hundred 15-minute programmes, each focusing on an object from the British Museum’s collection, written and narrated by Neil MacGregor, Director of the British Museum.

The programmes told a history of two million years of humanity through the objects we have made, starting with the earliest object in the museum’s collection.

Deep zoom imagery of the British Museum objects on the site lets you see the objects in stunning detail while listening to the programme. Just click on the main image of a British Museum object to zoom in.

You can also download all the episodes to enjoy away from your pc.

Other programmes

CBBC's Relic: Guardians Of The Museum bought the objects from A History of the World to a younger audience. It followed a group of children visiting the British Museum at night to unlock the mysteries behind 13 of the objects featured in the series, accompanied on their journey by Agatha, a mysterious and ghostly tour guide. Find broadcast details here and play the Relic game.

BBC Cymru Wales, BBC Scotland, BBC Northern Ireland and BBC English Regions all broadcast a range of programmes which tell their nation's history and their links with the rest of the world. These include Wales and A History of the World looking at the objects and discoveries that started their journey around the world in Wales.

Across the UK

A History of the World was a partnership that extended to museums across the UK. Inspired by the Radio 4 series, museums teamed up with the BBC in their area and selected over 1,000 objects from their own collections reflecting world history from their perspective.

Over five hundred museums are registered on the site during the year and many ran events including over 200 Relic Trails. These fun, challenge-filled treasure hunts for families helped those inspired by CBBC's Relic: Guardians of the Museum explore objects in their local museum collections.

Schools were also able to work with the project with lesson plans focusing on a selection of objects from the British Museum. These encouraged students and teachers to identify their own objects that tell 'a history of the world'. The Relic Challenge saw schools uploading their objects and a series of features based on the best objects will feature on BBC Radio 7.

Explore the website

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Marcus du Sautoy, Simon Mayo and others on the objects they've contributed to the project.

You can still browse all objects that were added to the site during 2010. Browse the complete list, or filter the list by culture, material, time, theme - and even colour. Just use the buttons above the list.

You can also look at highlights from our collection on the topics pages or look at the objects added by individuals that appeared on Radio 4 in a series of Audience Stories.

If you just want to see the objects from the Radio 4 series, you can see the British Museum's 100.

Look back at all the news and features from the project on our blog, or our Facebook page.

Also available in bookshops

There is also a book of the series published by Penguin: A History of the World in 100 Objects by Neil MacGregor (ISBN 9781846144134).

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