What is the human world made of? All our genius and imagination would be nothing without the raw materials to turn dreams into reality. Stone, wood, metals, fuels – these are the basic elements of our ‘Material World’.
This six-part series reveals the natural and cultural histories of the materials that define human civilisation. The same iron that raised the Eiffel Tower gave a red tint to Stone Age clay, allowing our ancestors to start the first ‘art revolution’ on cave walls. The petroleum that powers the 21st century is another form of the natron that the Ancient Egyptians
once used to mummify their dead.
Each episode traces the individual atoms and molecules of a single material from their origins to their incorporation in important historical objects, for example the iron atom first created in an exploding star that went on to form part of the steel frame of the first skyscraper. We observe hands-on demonstrations by master craftspeople and zero in on key objects and historical events to chart one substance’s path through human history – and into the future.