Perhaps the best thing of all about being Director of the British Museum, and one that still gives me the most enormous thrill is that, now and then, I'm allowed to take some of the objects out of the cases and hold them.
And today I'm being allowed to hold something absolutely astonishing.
I've got to admit that if any of us saw this just lying on the ground, we'd probably walk past it, but in fact it's the oldest object in the British Museum, and it was made nearly two million years ago, in Africa.
It looks like a large, chipped grey cobble.
Holding this, I can feel what it was like to be out on the African savannahs, needing to cut flesh for example, needing to cut into a carcass, in order to get a meal.
This is one of the first things that humans ever consciously made. And holding it puts me directly in touch with them.
In this history of the world that I'm trying to tell through 'things', this chipped stone from Africa - from modern Tanzania - is where it all begins.
I've come out of the front steps by the main door of the British Museum.
One of the points of any museum is to allow you to travel through time, but our understanding of just how much time there is for us to travel through has expanded dramatically since the British Museum opened its doors in 1759.
At that point, most of the visitors would probably have agreed that the world had begun in 4004 BC, to be precise at the very beginning of Sunday 23 October. 下载全新《每日英语听力》客户端，查看完整内容