Things structure our lives. They enrich us, embellish us and express our hopes and fears. Here, to introduce a month-long focus on research on material culture, four academics from different disciplines explain why understanding how we interact with our material world can reveal unparalleled insights into what it is to be human.
Every object in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology tells not just one but many stories. The Museum’s collections chronicle two million years of human history, revealing the diversity of human life over millennia and the ongoing dynamism of world cultures in the present. Many individual artefacts reflect histories and cultures that are contested.
An exhibition exploring human discovery in all its forms – selected from more than five million objects at eight University of Cambridge museums – will open in London on 31 January 2014.
Maori paddles presented to Captain Cook’s crew on their first voyage of discovery capture the spirit of a first encounter between two cultures.
Islanders: The Pacific in the Age of Empire tells the story of the Pacific Islanders and their early interactions with Western travellers from the viewpoint of the Islanders themselves and sets the arrival of Westerners within a context of existing voyages within the region.