01: STONE HAND-AXE

About 800,000 years old, Tanzania

Stone

Carved out of quartz, an unconventional material for a hand-axe, this artefact represents the development of human thought beyond survival. “The maker chose quartz to show off his skill, which suggests the hand-axe had a symbolic function. This is evidence not just of man’s capabilities to make functional objects, but also the first direct example of art,” says Moore.

02: WOMAN’S CLOTH

2001, El Anatsui, Ghana

Womanscloth

Inspired by the traditional kente cloth of Ghana, which is woven in complex patterns to symbolise a person’s identity and status, this wall sculpture made from aluminium bottle tops and wrappings folds in different ways at each installation, just like a piece of fabric would. Moore says: “In a sense, this piece looks back to the traditions of textile manufacturing, but also suggests new possibilities for Africa.”

03: MUMMY OF AN ADOLESCENT BOY

AD100-120, Egypt

Mummy

What makes this specimen unique is the fusion of Egyptian funerary tradition with a Roman-style portrait placed on it. The sophisticated image provides a vast contrast to the more idealised Egyptian-style paintings of earlier days. Observes Moore: “This fusion of styles is a pattern you see around the world, with people moving and ideas colliding.”

04: GENERAL VIEW OF THE TEMPLE AT BOROBUDUR

Around AD1814, from the Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles Collection

Trobodour

It is a little-known fact that Sir Stamford Raffles rediscovered Borobudur in Central Java. This painting was commissioned by Raffles and was the first European view of the complex. The trees depicted around it were likely to have been chopped down by the time the work was painted, implying that the artist might have “added a little bit of prettiness” a la the English watercolour style.

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