Understanding how we interact with our material world can reveal unparalleled insights into what it is to be human.

How 9,000 lists written over 300 years are helping to test theories of economic growth

03 July 2018

The handwritten inventories had lain largely untouched for centuries. Sand used to dry the ink still lay between the pages. Written neatly inside...

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A feather in your cap: inside the symbolic universe of Renaissance Europe

02 November 2017

Today, feathers are an extravagant accessory in fashion; 500 years ago, however, they were used to constitute culture, artistry, good health and...

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Pre-Inka elites and the social life of fragments

31 October 2017

Objects unearthed in the Andes tell new stories of societies lacking hierarchical leadership in the time before the Inka Empire.

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The man who tried to read all the books in the world

26 October 2017

One man’s quest to create a library of everything, 500 years before Google Books was conceived, foreshadowed the challenges of ‘big data’ and our...

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Animating objects: what material culture can tell us about domestic devotions

24 October 2017

Rustic figurines of a resigned-looking Virgin clutching her child may have no obvious literary or artistic merit to us today. But understanding...

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Living in a material world: why 'things' matter

18 October 2017

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...

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Two million years of human stories

12 October 2017

Every object in the Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology tells not just one but many stories. The Museum’s collections chronicle two million...

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‘France’s Samuel Pepys’ is elevated from the footnotes of history

29 June 2017

The journals and scrapbooks of Pierre de L’Estoile have for generations provided a vivid picture of France in a time of religious upheaval. Now...

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Earliest-known children’s adaptation of Japanese literary classic discovered in British Library

14 June 2017

A chance discovery in the British Library has led to the discovery and reproduction of the earliest-known children’s adaptation of one of Japan’s...

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