If you’re into history, archaeology, and art, this book is an absolute delight. If you know nothing about the history of the human race, this book will save you from ignorance.
British Museum director Neil MacGregor has chosen 100 artifacts from different periods in history to create revealing snapshots of how people lived in those times.
The Standard of Ur, a wooden box inlaid with mosaic, dates back to 2600 BC. Archaeologists thought it was a standard, a sign carried into battle on top of a pole. They still don’t know exactly what it’s for, but most likely it’s a box to keep precious objects in. The mosaic carved in shell, red stone and lapis could be the first comic strip, portraying life in the ancient city of Ur in Sumer in Mesopotamia. You see the king ruling his subjects, and leading them in wartime. Note the chariots: as early as 2600 BC, artists had figured out how to render movement graphically.
This reliquary made in Paris in 1350 or so is made of solid gold and encrusted with sapphires, crystals, rubies and pearls. Look closely: there are angels blowing their trumpets and people rising from their coffins and raising their hands. It’s a scene from the Last Judgement. The reliquary contains a single thorn purportedly from the Crown of Thorns that was placed on Jesus’s head. In the Medieval Ages there was a booming trade in holy relics: saints’ fingers, skulls, bits of bone.
From Mozambique in 2001: A throne built from decommissioned weapons from various wars, monument to all who suffered in the civil war in Mozambique. (Is it possible that they got the inspiration from the Iron Throne in George R.R. Martin’s epic?)
A History of the World in 100 Objects is available at National Bookstores, Php1195.