Living With The Gods-logo

Living With The Gods

BBC

Neil MacGregor explores the role and expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world. Produced in partnership with the British Museum.

Neil MacGregor explores the role and expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world. Produced in partnership with the British Museum.
More Information

Location:

London, United Kingdom

Networks:

BBC

Description:

Neil MacGregor explores the role and expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world. Produced in partnership with the British Museum.

Language:

English


Episodes

Living with Each Other

12/1/2017
More
Neil MacGregor concludes his series on how shared beliefs have shaped societies. He began with the Lion Man, an object created 40 000 years ago, and now reflects on the present, on the future and on hope. Producer Paul Kobrak The series is produced in partnership with the British Museum, with the assistance of Dr Christopher Harding, University of Edinburgh. Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Duration:00:14:06

The Search for a State

11/30/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on shared beliefs with a look at the attempts of some faiths to establish a state of their own. An over-printed coin from 2nd century Jerusalem tells of the failed attempt of Shimon bar Kokhba to lay claim to a state for the Jews, free from Roman rule - while a white cotton flag, framed in pale blue, flew over Sudan after it had been taken by Mahdist forces and before the Islamic state collapsed in the mid 1890s. Producer Paul Kobrak Produced in...

Duration:00:14:10

Turning the Screw

11/29/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on shared beliefs with a focus on those faiths seen as a threat to the state. A plain board, to be found on a 17th-century Japanese roadside, offers generous rewards to anyone who informs on Christians. At almost exactly the same time a print from France depicts the officially sanctioned destruction of a Huguenot Church just a few miles east of Paris. Producer Paul Kobrak Produced in partnership with the British Museum Photograph (c) The Trustees of the...

Duration:00:14:33

Living with No Gods

11/28/2017
More
Neil MacGregor focuses on societies which aimed to live without religious beliefs. Neil examines a revolutionary clock, from around 1795, created in the wake of the French Revolution, and designed to mark a new way of living: in an age of reason, there would no longer be royalism or religion in France. A poster from the Soviet Union celebrates the apparent triumph of scientific progress: the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin floats in space, looks out and proclaims 'There is no God!'. It seems that...

Duration:00:14:24

Ruling with the Gods

11/27/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on shared beliefs with a focus on earthly rulers and the gods. Queens and kings may be priests of the gods, or their representatives. They may be incarnations - or even gods themselves. Or the relationship may be so close that to divide spiritual from temporal power at all would simply make no sense. Neil examines these ideas, with the help of objects including a bronze staff belonging to the Oba of Benin, and a bronze vessel from China, whose...

Duration:00:14:16

Living with Many Gods

11/20/2017
More
Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues with a focus on societies living with many gods. In the mid-1840s, a Roman earthenware jar was dug from the earth near Felmingham Hall in Norfolk. Inside, excavators found several belief systems, all mixed up together - for buried in the pot was a jumble of gods, deities of different kinds and origins, that tell us what it meant for people in Roman Britain around the year 250 to be living with many gods. The great...

Duration:00:14:11

Rejecting the Image

11/16/2017
More
Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues with a reflection on faiths which focus on the word rather than the image. A striking cobalt blue mosque lamp, from around 1570, shows an Islamic way of doing honour to the word: calligraphy. In Jewish religious ceremonies a yad - a small silver rod with a little hand and a pointing index finger - is used to follow the text during readings from the Torah, to avoid any damage to the delicate parchment. Producer Paul...

Duration:00:14:11

Change Your Life

11/16/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series about the expression of shared beliefs with a focus on images which seek to change the viewer's behaviour. A small coloured wood-cut, created in the Netherlands around 1500, offers a particularly gruesome rendering of Christ's crucifixion. Christ is pictured with blood pouring from his torso, his head, his legs and his outstretched arms. These are not realistically arranged droplets; instead we see a flurry of vertical red strokes, tightly packed...

Duration:00:14:15

The Making of Meaning

11/15/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series about the expression of shared beliefs with a focus on how we come to comprehend sacred images. Our understanding of the rock art created by the San people of southern Africa over many centuries is helped by written accounts, so that what first appears to be an image of a hunting expedition becomes a record of a spiritual journey into another realm of experience. "For many years it was a matter of gaze and guess," says David Lewis Williams, an authority...

Duration:00:14:24

Festivals

11/10/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time, and focuses on festivals, and their role in shaping a communal identity. Producer Paul Kobrak Produced in partnership with the British Museum Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Duration:00:14:27

To Be a Pilgrim

11/9/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time, and focuses on pilgrimage, and its role in Christianity, Buddhism and Islam. Producer Paul Kobrak Produced in partnership with the British Museum Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Duration:00:14:21

Holy Killing

11/8/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time, and focuses on sacrifice.. Displayed in the British Museum is a finely-crafted Aztec knife, dating from around 1500, with a richly-decorated handle. It had a brutal purpose - human sacrifice. In ancient Greece, animal sacrifice was a vital ritual for connection with the deities: the grounds of a Greek temple were in part a sacred public slaughter-house. Producer Paul...

Duration:00:14:19

Gifts to the Gods

11/7/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time, and focuses on offerings. High in the Andes in Colombia, the indigenous Muisca population consigned highly-wrought gold figurines to the waters of Lake Guatavita. Records of the treasures stored in the Parthenon, Athens, dating from around 400BC, reveal numerous gifts for the goddess Athena - gifts with a double role. The Parthenon was also a kind of central bank,...

Duration:00:14:16

The House of God

11/6/2017
More
Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues with a focus on the creation of sacred spaces, built for encountering or engaging with the divine. Stone tablets in the British Museum detail how a temple was designed and formed in Mesopotamia about 4000 years ago - the first sacred space for which we have a written record. It was a god's home, complete with private areas crafted to meet his every need: kitchens and dining rooms, family rooms and spaces for guests....

Duration:00:14:15

The Power of Song

11/3/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time. He focuses on a Kirchenpelz or 'church fur' - a sheepskin coat made in the late 19th century in Transylvania, now part of Romania, for the German-speaking Saxon community there. This was not just 'Sunday Best': to wear this coat was to proclaim in public your allegiance to the Lutheran Church, and your identity as a Transylvanian Saxon. He also reflects on the importance...

Duration:00:14:05

Lines of Communication

11/2/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time. He focuses on prayer, reflecting on how this most highly individualized of activities is also a profoundly communal act, with objects including a 16th century ivory and gold qibla, used to find the direction of Mecca - a function now offered by smartphone apps. Producer Paul Kobrak Produced in partnership with the British Museum Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British...

Duration:00:14:12

Becoming an Adult

11/1/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time. He focuses on rites of passage, marking the transition from childhood to adulthood, including a lock of bound hair, from the collections of the British Museum, which reveals an important ritual for teenage boys on the Pacific island nation of Vanuatu. Producer Paul Kobrak Produced in partnership with the British Museum Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Duration:00:14:05

Mother and Child

10/31/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time. He focuses on how societies and communities seek to protect the newly-born and their mothers, including the role of St Margaret of Antioch, patron saint of childbirth, and the use of protective omamori in Japan. Producer Paul Kobrak Produced in partnership with the British Museum Photograph (c) The Trustees of the British Museum.

Duration:00:14:04

Living with the Dead

10/30/2017
More
Neil MacGregor's series on the role and expression of beliefs continues with a reflection on our relationship with the dead. In the British Museum, he focuses on mummy bundles from Peru, skeletons wrapped in textiles made of llama wool or cotton. For the living, these were ancestors with great wisdom and knowledge of the world, who could be called upon to help key decision-makers. He also examines two Chinese 'ancestor portraits', and discovers how and why they were venerated by surviving...

Duration:00:14:13

Dependence or Dominion?

10/27/2017
More
Neil MacGregor continues his series on the expression of shared beliefs in communities around the world and across time. He focuses on the natural world and seasonal change: the Yupik people of Alaska depend on the seal, and ancient Egyptians looked to the god Osiris to bring fertility to their arid land. Both societies, in radically different climates, devised practices that acknowledged the fact of their dependence on the natural world - and engaged everybody with the responsibility of...

Duration:00:14:27