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Unlike traditional narratives that focus on selected periods or cultural zones, this exhibition reviews the common stories of human development in a new perspective. Tracing human activity from 2 million years ago to the present, the stories behind the objects reveal how mankind in various areas and cultures shared similar aspirations and development in aspects of power, belief, art, trading and technology. Through this broadened vision, visitors may gain new inspiration about the world we live.
Take this wooden drum acquired in Virginia around and sent to a wealthy collector in England. Scholars now believe that the drum traveled across the Atlantic in a slave ship and spent some time on a Virginia plantation before winding up in London. It is a remnant, in other words, of the Atlantic slave trade, as well as of the Enlightenment impulse to collect and classify material from around the world. Based on a set of radio programs aired in by the British Broadcasting Company BBC in collaboration with the British Museum, the book is a later print adaptation that closely follows the contents of the radio broadcasts.
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The twenty parts into which the book is divided, each covering 5 objects, are organized both chronologically and by theme. Collectively, the objects cover a breath-taking expanse of time, beginning with a stone chopping tool from the famous Olduvai Gorge dating back about two million years and ending with a Chinese solar-powered lamp made in Petersburg, among other places.
Related A History of the World in 100 Objects
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