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  4. Empire Builders (300 BC - 1 AD)

Empire Builders (300 BC - 1 AD)

Neil MacGregor continues his global history told through objects. This week he is with the great rulers of the world around 2,000 years ago

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on BBC iPlayer (5)
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    Head of Augustus

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    Available since Fri, 21 May 2010.

    5/5. The 2,000-year-old bronze head of one of the world's most famous rulers: Caesar Augustus.

  2. Also available

    1. Chinese Han lacquer cup

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      Available since Thu, 20 May 2010.

      4/5. Neil MacGregor on a beautiful lacquer cup and the imperial ambitions of Han Dynasty China.

    2. Rosetta Stone

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      Available since Wed, 19 May 2010.

      3/5. Neil MacGregor with one of the past's most recognisable objects; the Rosetta Stone.

    3. Pillar of Ashoka

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      Available since Tue, 18 May 2010.

      2/5. Neil MacGregor on the life and legacy of the great Indian ruler Ashoka.

    4. Head of Alexander

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      Available since Mon, 17 May 2010.

      1/5. Neil MacGregor tells the story of Alexander the Great through a small silver coin.

Featured

WHERE THESE OBJECTS WERE FOUND

31 Coin with head of Alexander
32 Pillar of Ashoka
33 Rosetta Stone
34 Chinese Han lacquer cup
35 Head of Augustus

See all 100 British Museum objects

Alexander the Great

Alexander the Great’s conquest of the Persian Empire in 334 BC ushered in an age of megalomaniac rulers and great empires. Although there had been individual empires before, this was the first time superpowers spanned the globe. Alexander became a model for other rulers to emulate or reject. Augustus, the first Roman emperor, imitated Alexander by using his own image to represent imperial power to his subjects. In contrast, the Emperor Ashoka rejected authoritarian rule, promoting his peaceful philosophy through inscriptions on pillars across the Indian subcontinent. While Ashoka’s ideals did not last long beyond his lifetime, the Roman Empire continued for the next 400 years. It was only rivalled in size and population by the Han dynasty in China.

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