Friday, 22 October 2010

100th object going "to change the way we think"

In an hour's time, the British Museum director Neil MacGregor will give the last of his 100 talks in A History of the World. The 100th object is the solar-powered lantern.

A History of the World, or AHOW, has not focussed on the history of conflict, or the clash of personalities, but on the history of things, how things influence one another, and how those things have changed the way we live. It's global, generous, and disarming.

The statistics bear this out. Half of the 10 million downloads have been from outside the UK.

At the very start we learnt about the Olduvai stone-chopping tool (picture) the oldest humanly-made object in the British Museum. The choice of the solar-powered lantern is entirely consistent with that early choice. Last week, Neil MacGregor said the idea of capturing the sun is:

"the oldest myth of every culture in the world. You can take the sun and use it whenever you want. The myths in Ancient Egypt, and every culture, are now reality ... We felt that this was a kind of tool that – like the stone chopping tool – is really going to change lives, to change the way we think and the way we are."

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