A History Of The World In 100 Objects - BBC Transcript by Neil MacGregor

By Neil MacGregor

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That's the sensation I have that links me with the man who actually laboriously chipped it once, twice, three times, four times, five times on one side. One, two, three ... three times at the other ... " (David Attenborough) In the British Museum, we've recently made a new chopping tool using the same techniques as would have been used in Olduvai Gorge. If I now hold that new one in my hand, it becomes very clear how well you can use it to strike meat off an animal. We don't have any African wildebeests to hand, so I can try it using a bit of roast chicken.

Our stone chopping tool was one of the ones that Leakey found. "Picking it up, your first reaction is it's very heavy, and if it's heavy of course it gives power behind your blow. The second is that it fits without any compromise into the palm of the hand, and in a position where there is a sharp edge running from my forefinger to my wrist. So I have in my hand now a sharp knife. And what is more, it's got a bulge on it so I can get a firm grip on the edge which has been chipped specially, which is sharp ...

6 million years ago - arrived in southern Europe and parts of Asia just under a million years ago, and reached Britain somewhere between 600,000 and 500,000 years ago. Of course today it's a beach, but the coast all those many years ago would've been several miles further out. And if you'd walked along that ancient coastline, you would have arrived in what nowadays we call The Netherlands, in the heart of central Europe. At this time there was a major land bridge connecting Britain to mainland Europe.

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