We still do not know why these stone balls were created. They date to the late Neolithic or early Bronze Age, between 3200 and 1500 BC. They are made of various types of rock, such as sandstone or granite. Could they have been made by ancient mathematicians?
On growing up and dying in ancient and modern populations.
What can we learn about the lives of ancient populations and how does this compare to modern societies? The boy lived during the Roman period of ancient Egypt (AD80–120), a time we know a lot about due to the Romans taking censuses and records of illness.
Professor Dame Hermione Lee, Ennui by Walter Richard Sickert
On Viginia Woolf's interpretation of Walter Sickert's painting of Ennui. Virginia Woolf, the famous author, wrote an essay 'Walter Sickert: a conversation' on the painting of Ennui by Walter Richard Sickert in 1933. Woolf describes how she imagines the characters in the painting as an old publican, 'with his glass on the table before him and a cigar at his lips.'
Rev. Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch, Henry VIII Renaissance Medal
On Henry VIII and the Founding of the Church of England Minted at London in 1545, this medal shows a bust of Henry VIII, with inscriptions in Hebrew and Greek on the reverse. As a consequence of Henry’s break with Rome in 1533, he claimed to be 'Supreme head of Church of England.'
Professor Eugene Rogan, Arab robe worn by T. E. Lawrence
On Lawrence of Arabia and wearing Arab robes. T. E. Lawrence, or Lawrence of Arabia was infamous for his scruffy appearance when in the British Khaki uniform, and wore it as little as possible. However, Lawrence took on quite a different guise when his friend King Faisal of Iraq suggested he dress in his set of Arab wedding clothes.
Professor Helen Watanabe-O'Kelly, Meissen porcelain chocolate cup and tea bowl
On arranged marriages among royalty.
How does porcelain represent a royal marriage? When Maria Amalia of Saxony married Carlo, King of the Two Sicilies, in 1738, she brought Meissen porcelain with her to Naples. Her grandfather had founded the first European porcelain factory in 1710 and the Saxon court often presented porcelain to ambassadors and others who helped them to broker strategic political marriages.
Today, there are no lions roaming wild in north Africa, but evidence from ancient Egypt suggests that lions once did. Could this Egyptian pottery lion, dated to 2,325 – 2,175 BC provide clues to what the north African lion might have looked like?
We are enormously grateful to Professor Raymond Dwek, CBE, FRS for his generous support of this new podcast project.