Narrated by Oliver Stone, this new one-hour series features human events that at the time went under reported, but crucially shaped America’s unique and complex history. The 10-part series is worth seeking out.
A 4 minute documentary on the rock ‘n’ roll legacy of Cambodia. (4 min)
Gus Casely-Hayford traces the origins of Nubia, a fascinating kingdom that dominated the eastern Sahara for thousands of years, as far back as 10,000 BC. He explores how Nubia developed and what happened to it and its people, discovering that its kings once ruled Ancient Egypt and that it was defeated not by its rivals but by its environment. (59 min)
How did Stone Age people reach North and South America? Dr Alice Roberts discovers evidence for an ancient corridor through the Canadian ice sheet that may have allowed those first people through. But some very ancient finds in southern Chile seem to suggest a very different way into the Americas; an ancient human skull discovered in Brazil even points to an Australasian origin of the Americans. Could a route from Australia across the Pacific have been possible? (58 min)
In the fourth episode, Alice Roberts looks at our ancestors’ seemingly impossible journey to Australia. Miraculously preserved footprints and very old human fossils buried in the outback suggest a mystery: that humans reached Australia almost before anywhere else. How could they have travelled so far from Africa, crossing the open sea on the way, and do it thousands of years before they made it to Europe?
The evidence trail is faint and difficult to pick up, but Alice takes on the challenge. In India, new discoveries among the debris of a super volcano hint that our species started the journey much earlier than previously thought, while in Malaysia, genetics points to an ancient trail still detectable in the DNA of tribes today. Alice travels deep into the Asian rainforests in search of the first cavemen of Borneo and tests out a Stone Age raft to see whether sea travel would have been possible thousands of years ago, before coming to a powerful conclusion. (58 min)
After the fall of the Soviet Union, Russia switched to a free market economy, opening the doors for the Red Mafia to take control of an estimated 40% of the nation’s economy. As one of the most fearsome, violent, creative, and well-educated criminal organizations in the world, the Red Mafia has been difficult to locate and shut down. (44 min)
In the third episode, Alice Roberts describes the various waves of anatomically modern humans that settled the continent of Europe about 40,000 years ago. She crosses the Bosphorus and travels up the Danube River, following their likely route. She then describes the already resident population of Neanderthals, and visits Gibraltar, the last known site occupied by Neanderthals. She suggests that the principal difference between them and Homo sapiens was the latter’s ability to create art, and visits the cave paintings at Lascaux. She discusses the theories about why Europeans have white skin and describes the birth of agriculture and the societal changes that took place as a result, visiting the spectacular Neolithic temple at Göbekli Tepe, in southeastern Turkey.
I’ve been reading the book “Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World” by Jack Weatherford which was a 2004 New York Times best seller. Through extensive research, Weatherford makes a convincing argument that Genghis Khan was an excellent and noble king contrary to the traditional Western image of him as a bloodthirsty pagan.
Pursuing the notion that Genghis Khan was the noblest of kings, this great movie from 2007, spoken in Mongolian with English subtitles brings the beauty and brutality of ancient Mongolia to life. The epic film recounts the story of a young Genghis Khan and how events in his early life lead him to become a legendary conqueror. The 9-year-old Temüjin is taken on a trip by his father to select a girl as his future wife. He meets Börte, who says she would like to be chosen, which he does. He promises to return after five years to marry her. Temüjin’s father is poisoned on the trip, and dies. As a boy Temüjin passes through starvation, humiliations and even slavery, but later with the help of Börte he overcomes all of his childhood hardships to become one of the greatest conquerors the world has ever known.
In this episode, Dr Alice Roberts’ journey continues into Asia, the world’s greatest land mass, in a quest to discover how early hunter-gatherers managed to survive in one of the most inhospitable places on earth, the Arctic region of Northern Siberia.
Alice also explores what may have occurred during early human migration to produce Asian physical characteristics, and considers a controversial claim about evolution; that the Chinese do not share the same African ancestry as other peoples. (59 min)