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The British Museum

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The British Museum holds in trust for the nation and the world a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures. This collection offers a rich source of inspiration for teachers. Our classroom and visit resources support object-based learning across the curriculum and are designed to meet the varied needs of students from EYFS through to Key Stage 5.

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The British Museum holds in trust for the nation and the world a collection of art and antiquities from ancient and living cultures. This collection offers a rich source of inspiration for teachers. Our classroom and visit resources support object-based learning across the curriculum and are designed to meet the varied needs of students from EYFS through to Key Stage 5.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - The Sutton Hoo helmet
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - The Sutton Hoo helmet

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This helmet was found at a burial site in Suffolk along with many other valuable objects. The burial provides insights into the life of the Anglo-Saxon elite and into connections between Britain and other parts of the world. The finds at Sutton Hoo changed historians' views about the Anglo-Saxon period, which had been regarded as a Dark Age following the end of Roman Britain. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Arabic Medical Encyclopaedia
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Arabic Medical Encyclopaedia

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A page from De Materia Medica in Arabic. After becoming the capital of the Abbasid caliphate in AD 762, Baghdad grew into a great and prosperous city. Literature, art and science all flourished thanks to the wealth of the city and patronage by its rulers. This object is an ideal starting point to explore this golden age of Islamic culture and the key role of Baghdad in the development of medicine and science. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Tribute from Nubia
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Tribute from Nubia

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This wall painting from the tomb of the treasury official Sebekhotep depicts a Nubian diplomatic mission bringing tribute to the Egyptian court. The exchange of gifts between rulers was an important element of ancient diplomacy, allowing nations to display their wealth and generosity at the same time as accessing the commodities they needed. Paintings like this provide a wealth of information about Egypt's economy and its relations with neighbouring lands. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Seal-die of an English baron
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Seal-die of an English baron

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This object, known as a seal-die, is a metal mould from which the owner's emblem can be imprinted in wax. This one belonged to Robert Fitzwalter, a powerful English baron heavily involved in forcing the English king, John, to agree to Magna Carta in 1215. It offers insights into the intrigues behind Magna Carta, into medieval notions of knighthood and chivalry and into social diversity in the Middle Ages. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Russian revolutionary plate
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Russian revolutionary plate

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This plate, decorated four years after the Russian Revolution, depicts a worker trampling the word Kapital to release the dynamic forces of a new industrial order for the benefit of the workers. It was designed by Mikhail Mikhailovich Adamovich (1884 – 1947) and its symbolism sends a striking message about the total destruction of the old capitalist, imperialist system. It offers a chance to explore the history of change in the years following the revolution, the nature of socialist ideology and the use and workings of propaganda. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects -A Qing dynasty altar set
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Teaching History with 100 Objects -A Qing dynasty altar set

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This Buddhist altar-set was created in the court glass workshops of the Qianlong emperor, third ruler of the last of the Chinese imperial dynasties, the Qing (1644 – 1912). The shape of the incense burner draws on centuries of tradition whilst the skill in carving glass drew on Chinese expertise in carving jade. The glass technology draws on European glass-making expertise which arrived in the Qing court with the Jesuit missions of the AD 1600s and 1700s. The altar-set provides an opportunity to study the interplay of tradition and innovation in China and the impact of growing western interests. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects -The Atomic Apocalypse
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Teaching History with 100 Objects -The Atomic Apocalypse

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The Day of the Dead, Dia de Muertos, is the Mexican celebration of the three days of Hallowe’en, Hallowmas and All Souls Day 31 October – 2 November. Its origins pre-date the arrival of the Catholic Church in Central America and are probably to be found in Mexica (Aztec) celebrations of the Queen of the Underworld. It is a joyful and ironic and humorous commemoration of the dead, who experience a brief return to the pleasures of their former existence. In Through this group by the Linares family, amongst the most celebrated makers of papier mâché figures, we are encouraged to take an ironic look at the apocalyptic fears of the second half of the 20th century. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Suez Canal commemorative stamp
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Suez Canal commemorative stamp

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The postage-stamp on this envelope commemorates the nationalisation of the Suez Canal in July 1956. This bold move by General Nasser of Egypt was the trigger for a crisis of tension among world powers centred on Egypt. In October 1956, Israel, with military support from Britain and France, invaded Egypt in order to regain control of the canal and remove Nasser from power. The resulting international crisis led to an eventual withdrawal forced on Britain, France and Israel by the UN, the USA and the Soviet Union. This object allows us to explore this important moment in twentieth century history and the shift in the balance of power from the old European empires to new global powers. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - The State Entry into Delhi
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - The State Entry into Delhi

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This painting by the British artist Roderick MacKenzie (1865 - 1941) sits in a heavy frame inscribed with verses from the Qur'an in Arabic script. This is the second version of the painting. The original commission is in the Victoria Memorial Hall - now a museum - in Kolkata. It shows the Delhi Durbar of 1903, a dazzling state occasion to mark the declaration of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra as Emperor and Empress of India. Painted from a British perspective, it portrays the dominance of Britain over India. However, this image of British supremacy masks the realities and the often fragile nature of British power at a time when events elsewhere, such as the Boer war, prompted questions about the purpose and nature of British imperial rule. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Flour for Lancashire workers
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Flour for Lancashire workers

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This barrel was one of thousands sent in 1863 as a gift from northerners in the United States to feed starving, unemployed cotton mill workers in Lancashire. The American Civil War stopped the free flow of raw cotton to Britain causing a desperate Cotton Famine in the northern mill towns. The story offers insights into Britain’s greatest trade, the lives of its industrial poor and tensions between moral and economic decisions. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects -The Peterloo Handkerchief
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Teaching History with 100 Objects -The Peterloo Handkerchief

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The Peterloo Handkerchief commemorates what became known as the Peterloo Massacre of 16 August, 1819. On that day, more than 60,000 people from Manchester and the surrounding area gathered at St Peter’s Field in the city to demand the right to vote. Local magistrates ordered the arrest of the main speakers and the dispersal of the crowd. Eighteen people were killed and several hundred were injured. In the months that followed, prints, poems and a range of everyday objects such as plaques, jugs, bowls and handkerchiefs were produced in memory of the massacre. The Peterloo Handkerchief is a powerful reminder of this event and, more generally, of people’s long struggle for universal suffrage in Britain. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Enigma cipher machine
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Enigma cipher machine

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This is one of thousands of Enigma machines used during World War II by German forces to encrypt secret radio communications. The Germans believed the encrypted messages created by Enigma were indecipherable. A large team of workers, based at Bletchley Park in Buckinghamshire, succeeded in developing techniques that allowed the German codes to be deciphered. The Enigma machine provides an exciting starting point for several enquiries including the role of code breaking in the conduct of the war, the contribution made by women to the war effort and the development of the digital age. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects -  Aircraft Factory Works Pass
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Aircraft Factory Works Pass

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Thelma Barlow worked at the Parnall Aircraft factory in Yate, which made aircraft parts. On 27 February 1941 the factory was bombed by the Luftwaffe. Many people died in the raid. Thelma Barlow survived, but this charred works pass was all that was left of her personal belongings. The pass can be used to initiate or develop study of the impact of World War II on life in Britain in terms of the experience of the war and changes in the role of women. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - The mummy and coffins of an Egyptian woman
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - The mummy and coffins of an Egyptian woman

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This is the inner coffin of an ancient Egyptian woman of elite status who was 50 - 60 years old when she died. The mummy itself and the outer coffin have also survived. The decoration on the coffin illustrates some important elements of ancient Egyptian beliefs about the afterlife, while scientific examination of the mummy has shed light on aspects of health and aging in ancient Egypt. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - King Alfred's jewel
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - King Alfred's jewel

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This Anglo-Saxon jewel was probably part of an aestel or pointer and was made during the reign of Alfred, who became king at a time of change in Britain. Alfred's achievements in diplomacy and warfare with the Vikings and in education and culture make him the only English king or queen to be called 'the Great'. The jewel provides opportunities to discuss Alfred as a leader as well as Anglo-Saxon language, texts, art and religion. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Greek statue of a woman
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Greek statue of a woman

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This statue of a woman comes from a temple known as the Erechtheion in Athens. It is actually a support for the roof, used instead of the traditional stone column which is probably the most instantly recognizable feature of Greek architecture. It is a good starting point for considering the basic principles of Greek architecture and for exploring the Greek legacy in later architectural styles. The temple from which the figure comes can also prompt inquiries about the role of social and political role of religion in Greek city states. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Earliest handaxe in Britain
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Earliest handaxe in Britain

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This handaxe was a chance find in an area of eastern England where research has led to the date of the earliest human occupation of Britain being pushed back by 300,000 years. Investigations further along the coast uncovered 850,000 year old footprints, the oldest human footprints outside Africa. At around 500,000 years old the later handaxe shows how early humans made versatile tools from the materials available in their environment and leads into a study of the lives of early people in Britain. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - Greek jumping weights
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - Greek jumping weights

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These unusual-looking objects are weights used by ancient Greek athletes when taking part in the long jump. Athletics were an important aspect of the life of men in ancient Greek culture and, especially in the form of the Olympic Games, are one of the most familiar legacies of the ancient Greeks to the modern world. These jumping weights are a very good starting point for investigating the role of athletics in Greek society and the similarities and differences between ancient and modern athletic competitions. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.
Teaching History with 100 Objects - A Greek goddess
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Teaching History with 100 Objects - A Greek goddess

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This simple, but charming figure probably represents the goddess Demeter or her daughter Persephone. These deities were associated with growth and fertility and the cycle of life and death. An integral part of civic religion, their worship especially involved women and also had more personal, individual aspects. Greek religion was based on securing or maintaining the favour of the gods through ritual actions and not on sacred texts or beliefs. The figure, through its association with the famous myth of Persephone, offers the opportunity to open up the ways in which religion permeated every aspect of life in ancient Greece. Part of the Teaching History with 100 Objects collection from The British Museum.