School of History, Classics & Archaeology

Dr Christopher Harding, 'Living With the Gods' on BBC Radio 4

A brand new series examining religion across time and the globe is being broadcast on BBC Radio 4, produced in partnership with Dr Christopher Harding, HCA Lecturer in Asian Studies. (Published 26 October, 2017)

HCA Lion Man
The Lion Man. Stadel Cave, Baden-Württemberg, Germany, The earliest known evidence of religious belief. © Ulmer Museum.

BBC Radio 4’s new series, Living With the Gods, explores belief and belonging across thousands of years of human history. Presented by Neil MacGregor, it is a collaborative project with the British Museum, produced with the assistance of HCA’s Dr Christopher Harding.

Using objects from the British Museum – beginning with the Lion Man, a 40,000-year-old mammoth ivory sculpture, and the oldest known image of a being that does not exist in nature – the series goes from deep history to the present day in Europe and around the world. It complements a new exhibition at the British Museum, and a forthcoming book with Penguin Allen Lane.

Speaking about the experience of working on the series, Dr Harding said, 'This was a fascinating opportunity to pool expertise with the British Museum and the BBC. The curators at the British Museum have an enviably broad understanding of this enormous subject, moving across time and place and making connections that you would never expect. The BBC production team helped us see how we might bring structure to it all, and use particular angles on this rich material to get our ideas home to listeners. Neil MacGregor’s broad vision and his talent for the telling detail held it all together from start to finish. The planning meetings and writing sessions were a delight, and it was fun to work with an animator for the first time, too, producing a series of shorts that begin with the Lion Man. It was great to see three cultural institutions – museum, media, and universities – working so well together.'

Dr Harding was one of AHRC/BBC's ten New Generation Thinkers for 2013-14. He now contributes to and presents Radio 3's Free Thinking programmes, mixing research and teaching with broadcast journalism for BBC Radio 3, 4, and the World Service. His four-part series on global cultures and mental health, The Borders of Sanity, was broadcast last year.


Dr Christopher Harding's staff profile

Living With the Gods on BBC iPlayer

British Museum exhibition - Living with gods: peoples, places and worlds beyond