Over 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans—people physically identical to us today—left their African homeland and entered Europe, then a bleak and inhospitable continent in the grip of the Ice Age. But when they arrived, they were not alone: the stocky, powerfully built Neanderthals had already been living there for hundred of thousands of years. So what happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did we make love or war?
Mankind takes on godlike powers: to feed billions of people, reshape the landscape, re-engineer the human body. The greatest power of all was unleashed over Hiroshima on 6 August 1945. Since entering the Atomic Age we’ve been living between eternity and oblivion. But at the same time, we’ve become more connected as a species. 100,000 years ago there were a few thousand hunter-gatherers on the African savannah. Today there are 7 billion of us in every corner of the globe. It’s been an amazing journey.
Henry Louis Gates, Jr. uncovers the complex trade networks and advanced educational institutions that transformed early north and West Africa from deserted lands into the continent’s wealthiest kingdoms and learning epicentres. In Part 4 Gates explores the power of Africa’s greatest ancient cities, including Kilwa, Great Zimbabwe and Benin City, whose wealth, art and industrious successes attracted new European interest and interaction along the continent’s east and west coasts.
Andrew Marr sets off on an epic journey through 70,000 years of human history. Using dramatic reconstructions, documentary filming around the world and cutting-edge computer graphics, he reveals the decisive moments that shaped the world we live in today, telling stories we thought we knew and others we were never told. (Part 4: Into the Light) Andrew Marr reaches the Middle Ages. After the collapse of the Roman Empire, Europe was little more than a muddy backwater. Vikings explored and pillaged from Northern Europe to North America. But they also laid the foundations of powerful new trading states - including Russia. This was also the Golden Age of Islam, and the knowledge of ancient civilisations from India, Persia and Greece was built upon by Islamic scholars in Baghdad's House of Wisdom. By exploring the conquests of Genghis Khan, the adventures of Marco Polo and the extraordinary story of an African King - the wealthiest who ever lived - Marr finds out how Europe emerged from the so-called 'Dark Ages' and used influences from around the world to rise again with the Renaissance.
If David Olusoga's first film in Civilisations is about the art that followed and reflected early encounters between different cultures, his second explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century. David shows the growing ambivalence with which artists reacted to the idea of progress, both intellectual and scientific, that underpinned the imperial mission and followed the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.