We will get to the very beginning of human history, but I'm not going to start there because I want to begin with the mummies which is where I began when I first came through these doors into the British Museum in 1954 at the age of eight, and I think that's where most people begin when they first visit a museum.
It's a pretty safe bet that most of the children you can hear round about me are also headed for the Egyptian mummies.
What fascinated me then was the mummies themselves, the thrilling gruesome thought of the dead bodies, but I'm now much more interested in the mummy cases - and I've chosen one particular mummy case for this opening programme, because it carries all the different kinds of messages across the millennia, signals from the past if you like, that 'things' can communicate to us, and that I'm going to be looking for in all the objects in this series.
Telling history through things, whether it's a mummy's coffin or a credit card, is what museums are for and, because the British Museum has collected things from all over the globe, it's not a bad place to try to tell a world history.
Of course it can only be 'a' history of the world, not 'the' history.
When people come to the museum, they choose their own objects and make their own journey round the world and through time, but I think what they will find, is that their own histories quickly intersect with everybody else's -and when that happens, you no longer have a history of a particular people or nation, but a story of endless connections.
Nobody has thought more deeply about this than the Indian economist and Nobel Prize winner Amartya Sen:
'I think what is really very important to recognise is that, when we look at the history of the world, we're not looking at the history of different civilisations truncated and separated from each other.
They've a huge amount of contact with each other, there is a kind of inter-connectedness.
So I've always felt, not to think of the history of the world as a history of civilisations, but as a history of world civilisations evolving in often similar, often diverse ways, always interacting with each other. 下载全新《每日英语听力》客户端，查看完整内容