[The Persian Empire] left a dream of the Middle East as a unit, and a unit where people of different faiths could live together.
From the point where our ancestors started making tools, people have been unable to survive without the things they make; in this sense, it is making things that makes us human.
For a million years the sound of making handaxes provided the percussion of everyday life. Anyone choosing a hundred objects to tell a history of the world would have to include a handaxe.
For many, the icon of the British Museum is the Rosetta Stone, that administrative by-product of the Greek imperial adventure in Africa.
Objects let you tell a narrative that encompasses everybody. Texts don't.
Objects are better than text at conveying narrative
In the world of the Middle East at the moment, the debates are shrill. But ... the wisest voice of all of them may well be the voice of this mute thing, the Cyrus cylinder.
In 1600, when Shakespeares audience at the Globe heard Hamlet for the first time, every one of them knew very well what it meant to be handed a cup of wine by a figure of authority and told to drink.
The British Museum was founded with a civic purpose, to allow the citizen, through reasoned inquiry and comparison, to resist the certainties that endanger free society and are still among the greatest threats to our liberty.
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