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The Lost Pyramids of Caral
The magnificent ancient city of pyramids at Caral in Peru is a thousand years older than the earliest known civilisation in the Americas and, at 2,627 BC, is as old as the pyramids of Egypt. Many now believe it is the fabled missing link of archaeology - a 'mother city'. If so, then these extraordinary findings could finally answer one of the great questions of archaeology: why did humans become civilised?" For over a century, archaeologists have been searching for what they call a mother city. Civilisation began in only six areas of the world: Egypt, Mesopotamia, India, China, Peru and Central America. In each of these regions people moved from small family units to build cities of thousands of people. They crossed the historic divide, one of the great moments in human history. Why? To find the answer archaeologists needed to find a mother city - the first stage of city-building. Caral, is so much older than anything else in South America that it is a clear candidate to be the mother city. It also is in pristine condition. Nothing has been built on it at all. Instead laid out before the world is an elaborate complex of pyramids, temples, an amphitheatre and ordinary houses. Scientists developed a number of theories. Some said it was because of the development of trade, others that it was irrigation. Some even today believe it was all because of aliens. Gradually an uneasy consensus emerged. The key force common to all civilisations was warfare. Crucially, there is not the faintest trace of warfare at Caral; no battlements, no weapons, no mutilated bodies. Instead, Ruth's findings suggest it was a gentle society, built on commerce and pleasure. In one of the pyramids they uncovered beautiful flutes made from condor and pelican bones. They have also found evidence of a culture that took drugs and perhaps aphrodisiacs. Most stunning of all, they have found the remains of a baby, lovingly wrapped and buried with a precious necklace made of stone beads.
Stonehenge was shaped over centuries, but to what purpose? Was it a temple to the sun, or the moon, an astronomical calendar, or a shrine to dead ancestors? Now Stonehenge may be about to give up some of its secrets. For the first time in nearly half a century a new archaeological dig the sacred stone circle. And the men who are leading the excavation are well aware of the significance of this moment.
The film exposes an investigation into a radical theory that Stonehenge, far from being a place of burial as is commonly assumed, was in fact a place of healing. The investigation takes in forensic testing of bones excavated over the past decades and hard-won permission for the first dig in 50 years at the Henge, watched live online by millions of viewers around the world. Does the theory of the healing stones bear up to modern-day forensic science?
The Incredible Human Journey: Europe
When our species first arrived in Europe, the peak of the Ice Age was approaching and the continent was already crawling with a rival: stronger, at home in the cold and even (contrary to their popular image) brainier than us. So how did the European pioneers survive first the Neanderthals and then the deep freeze as they pushed across the continent? Alice Roberts reconstructs the head of the 'first European' to come face to face with one of our ancestors; she discovers how art became crucial for survival in the face of Neanderthal competition; and what happened to change the skin colour of these European pioneers from black to white.
The Incredible Human Journey
Ancient Aliens Debunked: Nazca Lines
The Nazca Lines of Peru have been an important part of the Ancient Astronaut theory since its beginning. Originally Von Daniken claimed that the lines were kind of a UFO runway, or a type of alien airport, where the alien craft landed and took off. The idea that it was an airport makes no logical sense, and the symbols and rituals which were a huge part of the Nazcan culture more than explain the so called Nazca lines.
The Universe Season 7 Stonehenge
Perhaps the most mysterious structure on Earth, Stonehenge has stood on a plain in Southern England for 5000 years. Its foundations predate the Great Pyramids. It is one of mankind's most ancient mysteries. Why is it here? Is it a temple? A burial ground? A place for sacrifice? Or could the mystery of Stonehenge be revealed in its builders' desire to explore the unknown heavens and touch the universe? Using the cutting-edge computer-generated imagery that takes us into deep space, we'll also go inside a virtual Stonehenge to see what the ancients saw and push this prehistoric marvel to give up its age-old secrets.
In this episode we explore the possibility that this was a prehistoric astronomical observatory. Here ancient astronomer priests may have divined the complex movements of the Sun and Moon, recognizing patterns that would not be discovered elsewhere for thousands of years. The primitive Shamans may have also been the first astronomers to predict eclipses.
The Universe Season 7
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