More than 2,000 years ago, the thriving city of Petra rose up in the bone-dry desert of what is now Jordan. An oasis of culture and abundance, the city was built by wealthy merchants whose camel caravans transported incense and spices from the Arabian Gulf. They carved spectacular temple-tombs into its soaring cliffs, raised a monumental Great Temple at its heart, and devised an ingenious system that channeled water to vineyards, bathhouses, fountains, and pools. But following a catastrophic earthquake and a slump in its desert trade routes, Petra's unique culture faded and was lost to most of the world for nearly a thousand years. Now, in a daring experiment, an archaeologist and sculptors team up to carve an iconic temple-tomb to find out how the ancient people of Petra built their city of stone. Meanwhile, scientists using remote sensors and hydraulic flumes uncover the vast city and its sophisticated water system. The race is on to discover how these nomads created this oasis of culture in one of the harshest climates on Earth.
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.
Our planet has amazing power, and yet that's rarely mentioned in our history books. This series tells the story of how the Earth has influenced human history, from the dawn of civilisation to the modern industrial age. It reveals how geology, geography and climate have been a far more powerful influence on the human story than has previously been acknowledged. A combination of epic story telling, visually stunning camerawork, extraordinary locations and passionate presenting combine to form a highly original version of human history" In the first episode professor Iain Stewart explores the relationship between the deep Earth and the development of human civilisation. He visits an extraordinary crystal cave in Mexico, drops down a hole in the Iranian desert and crawls through seven-thousand-year-old tunnels in Israel. His exploration reveals that throughout history, our ancestors were strangely drawn to fault lines, areas which connect the surface with the deep interior of the planet. These fault lines gave access to important resources, but also brought with them great danger.
Category:Science Duration:59:00 Series: How Earth Made Us
Hundreds of years ago in faraway Iceland the Vikings began to write down dozens of stories called sagas - sweeping narratives based on real people and real events. But as Oxford University's Janina Ramirez discovers, these sagas are not just great works of art, they are also priceless historical documents which bring to life the Viking world. Dr Ramirez travels across glaciers and through the lava fields of Iceland to the far north west of the country to find out about one of the most compelling of these stories - the Laxdaela Saga.
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