Kenneth Clark's 1969 BBC series 'Civilisation' is perhaps the most celebrated documentary series ever made, except that it was entirely of its time: patrician to the exclusion of women and western to the exclusion of all other cultures. 2018 sees an ambitious BBC re-make, embracing global civilisations and exploring different themes in the universal histories of art and culture. In this book, Mary Beard investigates two aspects of what it means to be human. In Part I, she focuses on some of the earliest human figures in art - from the Olmec heads of pre-historic Mexico to the first nudes of the ancient Greek world, asking what were these images for, how they were understood by people in the past and why were they sometimes so dangerous and unsettling. In Part II, Beard shows how for millennia art has inspired religion as much as religion has inspired art.