Heaven… on Earth

From sacrificial blades to seal-gut parkas, a new Radio 4 series and British Museum exhibition are exploring some of history's most intriguing religious objects. Neil MacGregor reveals what the artefacts tell us about man's 40,000-year relationship with the divine...

Great Court, British Museum, Bloomsbury, London. (Getty Images)

This article was first published in the November 2017 issue of BBC History Magazine.

What can objects tell us about different belief systems through time?

The exhibition and radio series Living with the Gods is not about individual faith. It is about the shared beliefs of whole societies, the narrative of their place in the great scheme of things – and how those beliefs are then expressed in rituals designed to bind the societies together. We shall be looking at how both dead and living religions have tried to do this. Examining objects in the British Museum will help us explore practically what people really did, and do. The objects allow you to ground religious beliefs in the practicalities of daily life: how do people actually live, and live together, with their gods?

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