Accessibility statement

Story of Things

Posted on 22 June 2017

A series of podcasts discussing our relationships with objects

The three-part series is presented by archaeologist, Dr Penny Spikins, and philosopher, Dr Dorothea Debus. In episode one they discuss what objects meant to human ancestors and whether forming emotional relationships with objects is uniquely human—using an ancient hand axe.

The podcast, supported by the York Festival of Ideas, coincided with a live event led by Dr Spikins and Dr Debus, where they explored the meaning of various objects submitted to them via an online survey by members of the public.

Dr Spikins said: "The hand axe, on loan to us from the Yorkshire Museum, looks like it could be a weapon but in actual fact it is a tool used for cutting meat approximately 70,000 years ago. Aside from its practical application, it was made in a way that was also aesthetically pleasing. 

"So why would this ancient community care about what a basic cutting tool looked like? One theory is that its pleasing aesthetic demonstrated skill, patience, and knowledge on the part of its maker. 

"In this podcast episode we discuss what this tells us about our human attachments to everyday objects and how it helps us interpret the world we live in today."

The podcast series has been produced by third year students, Matthew Edwards and James Legros, from the University’s Department of Theatre, Film and Television, and the music was written and performed by PhD student, Richard Evans, from the University’s Department of Music.

Listen to episode one, The Story of an Ancient Hand Axe, here.  

Episode two, The Story of a 1950s Brooch, will be released on Thursday, 22 June.

Please fill out the survey at

Vist the website at