A History of the World in 100 Objects

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Making us human (2,000,000 – 9,000 BC)

Olduvai stone chopping tool

From Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
Made nearly two million years ago, stone tools such as this are the first known technological invention. This one is the oldest object in the British Museum.

British Museum

Olduvai handaxe

Lower Palaeolithic, about 1.2 million years old, Olduvai Gorge, Tanzania
The first great invention, this tool is called a handaxe. Handaxes were first made in Olduvai Gorge about 1.5 million years ago.

Britisch Museum

Swimming reindeer

From the rockshelter of Montastruc, Tarn et Garonne, France, Late Magdalenian
This is one of the most beautiful pieces of Ice Age art ever found. It is carved from the tip of a mammoth tusk and shows two reindeer, one behind the other.

British Museum

Empire builders (300 BC – AD 1)

Mummy of Hornedjitef

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From the burial of Hornedjitef, Asasif, Thebes, Egypt
Early Ptolemaic Period
Hornedjitef was a priest in the Temple of Amun at Karnak during the reign of Ptolemy III (246-222 BC)

British Museum 1
British Museum 2
British Museum 3