Legacy: The Origins of Civilization
We humans have been on the Earth for more than a million years, but civilization - life in cities - has come about only in the last 5,000. Through history civilizations have rose and fell, carved out of nature, dependent on nature, in the end - nature took them back.
But in the past few hundred years, one form of civilization - that of the West - has changed the balance of nature forever. And now it is civilization itself that has become the central problem of our planet. To understand why, we must look afresh at how we see history.
Host Michael Wood traces the rise of both Asian and Western civilization in one global perspective in these thought-provoking videos. From the crumbling ruins in the Iraqi desert to those of Greece and Rome, viewers contemplate thriving cities and complex societies that have vanished, a reminder that other nations prospered for thousands of years. Now all that remains is their legacy.
1. Iraq: The Cradle of Civilization. After thousands of years as a hunter/gatherer, man built the first cities 5,000 years ago on the banks of the Euphrates River. Civilization as we know it began with the glorious cultures of Ur, Nineveh, and Babylon.
2. India - The Empire of the Spirit. Ancient India is with us today in the living tradition of the Hindu religion, the basis of Indian culture. The traditions that are honored by millions of Hindus in the present were born in the Indus valley 5,000 years ago.
3. China - The Mandate of Heaven. Many breakthroughs on which the modern world is based were discovered in China long ago... iron-casting, gunpowder, even printing. When introduced to Europe, these things changed Western civilization. This episode presents the synthesis of East and West.
4. Egypt - The Habit of Civilization. A great documentary about Ancient Egypt that confirms that it was the birthplace of modern civilization, more than 5000 years ago. This documentary supports many of Dr. Walter Williams claims in regard to Egypts influence in the founding of Christianity and Islam.
5. Central America - The Burden of Time. Isolated from the rest of the world, the Mayans and Aztecs created sophisticated civilizations that in many ways paralleled ancient Mediterranean empires. God-like kings and a priestly ruling class dominated splendid cities of temples and pyramids.
6. The Barbarian West. Civilization arose in Asia, but it was the West which would create the first world culture. This final episode traces the origins of western culture through Greece and Rome prevailing by borrowing from the legacies of the original five old world civilizations.
I recall this as a good TV series "For the Time" i.e. early 1990's by Mr Wood. It gave a grounding to the knowledge available at that time. (Pre Internet and all of todays mod cons).
Yes it may have dated views but please do not judge it on 21st Century attitudes remember this was made around the time of the "New World Order" and "History is Dead" comments of the post 1989 fall of Eastern Europe Dictatorships.
Thanks for giving us YOUR VERSION of the history of the world. Note to readers of the Comments posted here: I have two words for everyone; Graham Handcock
Was Abraham came from Egypt ? And why did he miss the history about Jews and Christians resided in IRAQ ?. This looks like one sided Islam apologism.
As a white person who has spent his life studying socio-political and economic history of the world it should be self evident that the current paradigm is the conceited and narcissistic construction of an elite society. That society is a coveted and secretive Zionist collective, that has historically controlled the development of the banking systems, and have manipulated religious systems, political systems and whole nations. They have enslaved and abused the entire human race and continue to do so. Atrocities have been committed, whole peoples manipulated into committing them, and today the consequences and if you like the Karma of our historical legacy is now unfolding before us. What we see now is divided social groups who blame each other for all the pain in the world, rather than looking beyond to see the truth.....that we have been duped into this division, and given away our power, to be spoon fed false culture and history, to keep us dumb and divided. Stand together, white and black, Christian and Muslim, Hindu or Jew, Man and Women....Stand united, forgive, and fight the real evil in this world....Zionism!
as you know sam blacks in the UK is relatively new...you might want to begin with how blacks found their way to britain, you can't get one to take a bath let alone cross an ocean.
As a black person brought up in the UK ( London) which i will say is a wonderful and multi-cultural place its a shame the true history of Africa is never told.... its a shame the motherland is never recognised in the way it should be... my parents are nigerian and I know black history is not just a history of slavery its a shame .... such is life
An excellent series. Very thoughtfully presented and respectful of the various cultures and their contributions to civilization.
The one technical comment I have is that the content was somewhat marred by the narration which unfortunately is very dated by the liberal references to the "late 20th century". Yes, the making of the series might easily have been dated by the lack of 21st century ubiquitous accoutrements like cell phones, Bluetooths and tablets and even by the lack of mention of common 21st century events, but the continual references in the narration were really "in your face" - kind of a virtual watermark timestamped onto the video that was hard to ignore. If the producers are even thinking of a re-make/re-mix, they might want to listen closely to the narration and edit out the comments which so clearly mark it as a '90s product.
So judge by the works,of all.Do you follow lord Jesus,or do you follow lord oppenhiemer,simple...
watched the first 3, Iraq, India, and China - WOW absolutely fabulous. I have ONE only suggestion for Michael Wood- if you ever re-mix this series (& it would be well loved again if u did) just add a few MAPS and Dates and it will be perfect... So many excellent quotes I will choose a descriptive one rather then poetry. China was successful in holding off western expansion for a time; when they could not anymore, these first descriptions of westerners said much:
"These barbarians have a grim look - untidy hair and unpleasant smell...They are liars-and rather arrogant.They conquer countries by fraud and force,ingratiating themselves in a friendly way,before they oppress the natives; at the heart of their conduct is violence"
Well? Has anyone ever said it better?
I love how it seems like all ancient historians, on the one hand, casually dismiss specific accounts of the ancient world, like the bible (or the Gilgamesh epic for that matter), as fables, and, then, turn around and make very firm assertions, like where writing FIRST began, or where the very FIRST temple was EVER built, or what the FIRST epic story EVER was. Our evidence of the ancient world is too limited to make such absolute statements. In my mind it just replaces the dogma of Christianity with the dogma of a particular person's whims. Science is not in the business of dogma!
Sure, ancient Sumer has the oldest evidence we've uncovered of writing. But is that to say that it IS the oldest place we could ever find writing? And are we so arrogant as to say that the oldest place WE will ever find writing is where it MUST have began because we can't find it anywhere else? And the Gilgamesh epic is "the world's FIRST literature?" Our best source of that epic dates to long after our archaeological evidence for the stories told by ancient Egypt. How do we know what we claim to know so absolutely? Why can't we present that evidence for what it is, truth that leads us to our best but still very fallible conclusions?
It's ridiculous to have each generation of archaeologists and ancient historians pretending they've finally figured out everything about the ancient world while trying to invalidate specific beliefs firmly held by everyone who was ever in the field before them. Learning more, as time goes on, is a cause for humility, not greater pride and arrogance.
Long before Iraq formed as country it was PERSIA ,and then the civilization started in PERSIA which now is part of Iraq.So for this reason you cann't say that civilization started in Iraq ,it was Persia that everything happend..............please correct
Dear Global Friends,
These histories are not accurately to be true. It is just to be part of general knowledge to comprehend, but it won't help us to be more specific in living a civilised world. As for several centuries until today there were and are still wars going on without halting, only with lots of words to have PEACE. After peace then wars start again. Outwardly people seem to be civilised but inwardly they are not, because many impure or immoral thoughts like cheating, lying, killing, distorting, betraying, discriminating, hating, craving endlessly for power, fame and all the sensual desires on lust, pleasures, wealth and spoiling Mother Nature for the commercial greed are still going on.
A true civilised world is for one to self-examine one-self and get rid of one's bad or immoral habits, then to care and share indiscriminately in loving together as a One Global Big Family without considering a slightest development of war. Zero air, land and sea combat forces and weapons of destruction. Everyone's responsibility is lead a moral example, not complaining nor criticising on others.
after all what human kind owed to mesopotamia.bombs is our way of thanking it
For what reason is there for civilizations? For what biological purpose is there for them? There was no need for them really. Our ancestors were doing fine before civilization or at least the modern concept of what is a civilization. Now we have more problems and worries than our ancestors did. Our ancestors only had to worry about were predators, finding food and finding shelter. As for a mate, you found someone of the opposite sex whom you met while bumming into another tribal group. You weren't picky because you just never know when the next tribe will pass on by so you kept the mate you found very close by... thus monogamy relationships were form. Humans weren't living close together with one another back then as they are today, so pair bonding was a sure way for one to get access to sex and thus reproduce.
Modern civilization is overrated... it is why there are tribal societies (hunter gatherer groups) still in existence. We can argue all week or month over how great civilizations are and how evolved we are because of them, which I think is a load of garbage. Civilization does not equate to true biological evolution. We humans are still vulnerable, physically weak beings and we haven't really changed at all for the pass 200,000 yrs ago when the first true homo sapien evolved .
Another thing I like to point out is that we humans created a make believe game called civilization; where there are governments and economics. BTW money isn't real, but I love the game of Monopoly so I'll play the real life version of it with the rest of you. :) Yet those from advanced civilizations call tribal societies primitive... I think they're way ahead of us and I have huge respect for their skills and abilities to survive at ripe old age in an environment where one could easily die from being bitten by an animal overnight. Anyways at least their money can feed a whole clan of people and has real value... yes, I'm referring to the humble cow. Plus as long you raise cows you're never bankrupted. :)
Unfortunately I grew up to this domesticated life, IE being in captivity, being in a civilization, so I don't think I could live the way our ancestors did. I know,.. I know it's the slave mentality talking, but those of us here watching these vids and posting comments have to be realistic about these things. We all know that those of us raised in advanced civilizations would have a difficult time surviving in the wild. Nor would some of us want to leave the familiarity of our way of life. If I was forced to choose between being free in the forests or being the slave of a advanced alien species, I think I would choose the life of being a slave to a race of superior beings. I would be more comfortable being an indoor pet than being a free person being eaten alive by bugs in the unfamiliar wilderness and have my skin burnt by the sun (I have albino skin, so sue me LOL). Some of you may disagree with my thoughts on the matter and that's ok. You have your beliefs and I have mines. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. We're not all perfect. I just wanted to share one of my weaknesses with you all. I was only being truthful and realistic here, and I do give out my humblest of apologizes if anything stated in my comment has offended anyone. I only wanted to share some of my thoughts on the matter to which this series of documentary has brought up.
To the up-loader of the video... thank you so much for uploading this fascinating and mind stimulating documentary. I know it has brought up more questions than answers, but that's the many wonders of life. Can you image if there weren't any questions to answer? I would be frightened by that because it would mean that we humans had stop using our imagination and creativity. Anyways I saved the video in my bookmark folder labeled "videos" so I may share it with other. Again, thank you so much for the video.
Michael Wood suggests that civilization started for what reason?
Michael Wood made a great job with this documentary!
It is very, very important for those viewers who are ignorant of the european atrocities that came with colonization, but who are open to understand them, to have them enumerated in documentary form. This sort of doco balances the plethora of pro-european white-wash docos that abound. perhaps this series was not created for those who don't like to admit what really happened. If so, then just don't watch it. I myself am caucasian and have an interest in central american history, and i did learn a lot from that episode; but more than that, I found Woods' presentation one of admission and kindness and empathy for a defeated culture, and to my mind that really enhanced the viewing experience. Recommended.
Re: Iraq. Was hoping for and expecting a history of Sumer and Babylon rather than a travelog on Islamic culture in Iraq. Some interesting facts presented though.
loved these documentaries, and learnt so much about all these civilizations. It makes you realise how anicient the earth really is. But just a small correction, Buddha ( or Gautam Buddha) was a Nepali Prince born in Lumbini, Nepal, who gained enlightenment in India, he was not an Indian prince.
On any best day in film history, a documentary exists to expose and inspire, to expose the deceptions and false perceptions that drive our thinking, and to stir us to be inspired by different kind of thinking that is more progressive, more just, and makes more common sense.
Religion, economics, and sociology amidst the events of politics aids in that process. For example, insight is gleaned from the recognition that no Negroes were ever needed for slavery; they were not the chosen people in Egypt, and are not those chosen now. Why? because slavery is addictive and tolerance comes with the territory, the less brutal the better for tolerance. But, it need not be a fact of life!
Religion need not be freely granted, but it needs to be nonviolent. Rome's legacy remains the epitome of evil upon Christians, but it is not the only example in history.
Being humane is not about saving the animals from extinction though that is admirable. Conservation and preservation is not always about the environment and global warming though that is helpful to prevent human extinction.
Common sense is not about who is wealthiest, or what produces the greatest power and influence. Children are not nearly as resilient as people are led to believe.
Highlighting our inane ideas, and sociopathic personalities can only do us good if shown to be the bane of existence as we are led to think they are rooted in preferences, and choices, not misunderstandings of history and illogical thought.
People with common sense tend to be those who reign with what society has come to view as popularity and prominence, but not always.
Documentaries that disturb the conscience are always useful but too gross, vulgar, or severe, and they turn people off. Thinking is something to be embraced, not shunned as irrelevant.
Documentaries are not the only medium that can penetrate society's protective core, but they are a method that when used to good advantage, have powerful abilty to transform.
The fact of the matter is, Europeans really HAD pillaged and wrought all sorts of horrible things upon the world during the imperialistic period. While you may think this documentary has an overly negative view of european history, I think the documentary is merely using it's limited time to educate westerners on a part of history most of us don't know. We ALREADY know the great achievements of western history and how western civilization has benefited the world. however most of us do not know about the true extent of the crimes committed by westerners of the past. The fact that you took such offense that a chinese girl mentioned looting by westerners honestly amuses me. Just recently, yet another auction house was selling a chinese antique that belonged to royalty. There was NO WAY in hell a westerner could have gotten the item if not for looting (it was definitely NOT a gift as it was a part of the palace).
Every time I watch The Antique's Road Show, I find things that disturb me deeply. Often times I'll see a white western family selling an item from another culture. One woman was selling an item that is considered to be a sacred family heirloom in the alaskan native culture. The woman claims the item was something that an explorer uncle "found" but anthropologists say such an item would NEVER be part from a family if not for some catastrophic event. I really wonder how he uncle "found" the family heirloom.
500 years fromnow we will be concidered UN-CIVILIZED people who believed in god,Jesus Buddah ect.
I'm English but i don't go round looking down my nose at the ancient celt's culture- dont be painting all us modern middle class englishmen with the same brush, even if we are the best
Each civilization that was depicted here contributed greatly to the development of the human species. That does not make any one of them close to being perfect. Slavery, forced migration, genocide, gladiator sports, religious human sacrifice, and economic exploitation are a shameful legacy of our human history. Not one culture can claim complete innocence. What we can do is study these cultures and their histories and try not make the same mistakes. Invariably we will; because we are human. A good honest attempt, by everyone, to make the world a better place will dampen the effects of our errors. A perfect society will never be achieved. All we can do is treat each other in a fair and honest way. What cannot and does not help is finger pointing and accusations. As long as there are people who insist on doing this there will always be some kind of strife in the world. We can't change the past; only try to make a better future.
I am on this site because it was required for an online class at Sacred Heart University, I am actually viewing the page in blackboard now. The adds are absolutely repulsive; very very racy and totally inappropriate for a college environment.
What did I drop $1500 on?
Western world is but sequential civilisation that will take much more time than the others to disrupt because it situated itself better in history by learning from other cultures and civilisations. Western civilisation has its own strengths and its own weaknesses. Wonderful series though, a great contemplative analysis into the origins of civilisation.
@Yunya He says that western civilization has changed the balance with nature forever and you take that as whining about western civilization. Q.Q dude! Also didn't know pollution was a western value.
This Doc is major Bull****. :/
Two minutes into the documentary and he's already whining about western civilization. He uses petrochemical products and I'll bet he drives a car and lives in a nice house in suburbia. Michael Wood is the typical liberal hypocrite. If people don't like western values there are many places in the world where they can go. It's funny though how practically everyone in the world wants to live in the west.
Bloody English going around the world and subtly showing their superiority by conducting a survey of all other civilizations. What condescension. Why aren't they coming to England to do a survey of her. The sun has set on the British Empire.
Haha, just joking, great series, his enthusiasm is infectious. As long as globalization does not ruin what is special to each civilization, which its seems to be doing, everyone becoming a bland monotone modern materialistic culture without any higher motives. The richness of the West and the development of her civilization through Rome, Greece, and Jerusalem is not imitated, but rather the modern lowbrow pop culture.
I found this series very 'monotone" don't get me wrong the subject and the civilisations in question are v interesting, but it felt more like a lecture than anything, the content I think, I would have found more interesting and more suited to a book.
I don't see Caral here....the answers for why do people come together and start a civilization are there!
I loved your take on history, But when the oil runs out! I will go back to my Viking roots and England and drink all of their Beer. ( life goes on )
great docs Vlatko!!!!
OK let's get some things straight here. The Romans were'nt Christianized until Constantine during the 4th century. Patrick was from Brittania and was a prisoner of the Irish until he escaped and then went back to Ireland as the 1st Bishop of Ireland and converted the Irish people to Christianity. Not that the Irish were uncivilized as so everyone thinks or lacking in technology. Ever been to Newgrange? It took some thinking to build that edifice. The Romans never did conquer Ireland or Scotland for that matter either. They tried to though but one look at the long-haired naked Irish brandishing weapons on the shore changed their minds pretty quick and when they got a look at the Picts in Scotland with painted blue faces they built Hadrians Wall. I myself am of Irish and Hungarian descent. The Romans did conquer the Slavic countries thus the etymology of the word slave from Slav. Mr. Woods is a very good narrator and presented this series tastefully and brutally honest I think. The European powers did a smash and grab of Africa and what they could of Asia and what the Spaniards did in Central America and Mexico was horrendous. And now there is US and what we did to our Native Americans and around the world under the False Flag Doctrine and Big Business. We've been sold a bill of goods and most don't even know it....yet.
News flash, they mapped the human genome and it turns out we're all the same. One species.
Its kinda strange how we all did things independently of each other but ended up doing the same things all over the world.
i liked these docs, thanks v man.
@ Robert Lewis
Mr. Woods presented six segments with one sixth devoted to, what many consider, the most astonishing civilization that has existed on this planet. In his presentation of Egypt he correctly identified the Nubian area where the worship of Ausar (Horus) apparently originated. He took the viewers back to that area so that the descendants of those people could be observed (avaiding confusion with the Arabization of modern Egypt). There was no Afro-Centric infusion that I could see. I suppose you became agitated with him pointing out Auset (Isis) Hathor and Anubis in the tomb scene in Alexandria where they wer prominently displayed above the Greek cultural motifs. Egypt certainly is in Africa and it shares its glorious past with African people. Do you resent your African roots?
Egypt is in Africa you numpty!
There is always a dark continent--who's contribution to civilization is grossly ignored. And this series just did that.
I would like to add something to your knowledge :we have to overcome all the obstacles in order to Appeal to one Civilization to the One world.The overarching arguments of the new project would be only an appeal to one civilization for all human beings because we have starting from Nothingness and we will end our philosophy with Nothingness.
"Bloody english. They’d still be wearing animal skins, swilling mead, and praying to their saxon gods had we irish not re-educated them and converted them to christianity during the 5th and 6th centuries. Considering how they repaid us over the next millenia or so i’m sorry we did"
Really, are you sure, i thought it was the Romans during the first century. Firstly, i can't believe your blaming modern English, like myself, for what the British did to Ireland that long ago, the people responsible for it are dead dude, get over it, or should we, following by your example hate the Germans for the blitz over London during WW2, and the Scadinavians for when the Vikings invaded 1000 years ago,No of course not. Seriously fella, you need to grow up, remembering the past is important, so we don't make the same mistakes, but don't live in it, or you'll just fill yourself with hate.
"They’d still be wearing animal skins, swilling mead, and praying to their saxon gods" are you really that small minded to think thats actually true.
I haven't even watched this Doc yet, but one smug Englishman doesn't speak for us all, like you seem to think so, so maybe i should take what you say as the will of the Irish. But of course, i know that even with a small amount of intelligence thats not true.
dashu,I agree with your comment,why cant he just state facts and information on a nuetral plane and not compare to others,dynasty will come and grow and still will come and go,just like trade we all learn and borrow from one another good and bad look at all the 20 century inventions and technology that all the world enjoys especilaly refrigeration that contribute to the growth and sustain many peoples and of cultures with there right hand and wars and conflicks with there left hand,like are individual life,we have a beggining and end weather a virus,war or durration of time ,so does any civilization,we are competive people either by working or inventing uses to get ahead or survive or from taking from otheres,all societies have been guilty or contibute to another,everyone has been givers and takers in history,also the conflicks of those who move forward and who hang back,almost all wars are based on deception ,I heard onece edjucation had us fell fromthe garden and edjucation can bring us back provided is use for good and not evil.
An excellent series but I want to strongly agree with someone who was very annoyed with the anti-western comments and really 'propaganda' interjected in so many places.
What is especially offensive to me is that it comes off as so elitist and condescending. Its so 'obligatory' as he gives some 'dark period' or any sort of 'down time' for the foreign culture he must 'throw them a bow' by self-emasculating a chunk of his own bits to show 'see I do it to my own people too' aren't you satisfied now good.
Look, I am NOT asking for Europeans to be spared anything but likewise I don't need to see them cherry-pick the worst, amp up the worst offenses and incidents and then present them as 'what whites did to them' either.
Seriously.. it was annoying the hell out of me, and, this type of thing has REAL consequences. Chinese people (for example) see that and really believe this is what English must have done to them and everyone knows it. It fuels hatred.
Meanwhile, how about discussing the majority of Brits who actually had EXCELLENT relations, respect and SERVICE and superb stories in China? Because that definitely happened. MANY great stories and many excellent 'win-win' relationships, deals, and wow.. believe this crazy story but... wow.. sometimes BENEFITS were gained by Chinese FROM British. What?
If you watch this series and did not know any better you would believe every people on earth were brilliant and civilized except one evil disgusting soulless bunch of phony sickos - Europeans. Get real!
Just recently I had to CORRECT this kind of **** as a Chinese girl was complaining that English had looted and pillaged some ancient arts and treasures. She saw this in a western documentary too. (probably one like these with anti-british 'white guilt' propaganda), however, she informed me that actually many local Chinese ALSO stole relics and arts.
Then I explained how some of those relics and ancient arts were in the British Museums and that (at the time) many Brits thought of themselves as 'rescuing' these artworks. I then explained how they spend millions of pounds preserving these and showing to the world. She was absolutely amazed to hear this!
She had NEVER heard that British RESCUED ancient works FROM local looters, and, she was actually amazed that Brits spent massive tax-payer money to preserve them.. which to her was.. didn't even make sense.. she couldn't believe anyone would give so much to help her history for no gain?
At the end she actually agreed that maybe the Brits HELPED China's great culture in that sense. So do you see what I am saying here? These 'whites are evil guilt' propaganda films have REAL consequences and cause REAL confusion, and, annoy the hell out of me to be honest.
Having said all that - save the antichristian anti-white crap - the rest of these are fairly excellent. I could nitpick at a lot of other things too but 'overall' well done as great overviews and general information.
I always amused by the statements "the most destructive force the world has ever seen": in this case, the Europeans coming to the new world. True, they were dreadful, but so throughout history were other conquerors. The Persians, the Turks, the Huns, the Mongols, just to name a few, razed everything in their path after taking the prized loot and slaves. White men, black men, oriental warlords, all did the same thing. I win, you lose was the game of war.
Cradle of Civilization well highlighted the depth of history that comes from what is now Iraq. I couldn't believe though he scavenged those pieces of ancient pottery and broken tile from the fallen buildings from the first civilizations... then again his film was supported by the British Museum.
Great doc. !! I really enjoy Michael Woods' take on history.
Bloody english. They'd still be wearing animal skins, swilling mead, and praying to their saxon gods had we irish not re-educated them and converted them to christianity during the 5th and 6th centuries. Considering how they repaid us over the next millenia or so i'm sorry we did.
Just watched the cradle of civilization and found it very interesting. Like the way how he combines myths and historical research. Recommend it.
Michael Wood is a particularly annoying sort of modern Englishman. On the one hand, he ascribes to the widely discredited Afro centrist belief that Greece acquired all or most of its civilization from Egypt. On the other hand, he gives absolutely no credit to the Celtic people for any contribution to western civilization whatsoever, despite the fact that the Celts invented the European common market and saved civilization from the onslaught of the very Germanic hordes he loves so much, even going so far as to completely overlook the numerous and indispensable contributions of Scottish scientists and engineers to the industrial revolution. This is sad, but not surprising. It's actually quite traditional for the English historian (or in Mr. Wood's case, "historian") to overlook or even disparage the Celtic people. Pre 20th century Englishmen said, "We Anglo Saxons are the crown of creation and civilization and we'll bloody well make certain everyone knows it."; 21st century Englishmen say, "Early English (read Western) civilization may come up short when compared to the ancient civilizations of Asia and Africa, but were still better than those damned Irish!"