The Frankincense Trail
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The Frankincense Trail

2009, History  -   46 Comments
Ratings: 6.51/10 from 45 users.

The Frankincense TrailSeries in which intrepid presenter Kate Humble follows the ancient frankincense trade route of Arabia across the amazing modern world of the Middle East.

Kate's journey along the 2,000-mile trail that first connected the Arab world with the West takes her on a quest that's steeped in history, searing with desert heat, and full of characters and adventure.

Oman, Yemen and Saudi Arabia. Kate begins her epic journey following high in the hills of southern Oman. With her own supply of the precious resin, she walks with the Al Mahri tribe - the descendants of the ancient traders - and their 300 camels along the original trail through the scorching Empty Quarter desert. Crossing into Yemen, Kate arrives at the world's first skyscraper city, where her frankincense is used at the ritual blessing of a newborn baby.

Saudi Arabia. With unprecedented access, Kate enters the world of the nation's richest man, meets a remote mountain tribe whose ancestors once guarded the trade routes and who live at the fringe of Saudi society today, and explores the treasures of an untouched shipwreck that once carried frankincense on the crystal-clear waters of the Red Sea. Travelling by camel, glider and boat, she traces the 1,000-mile trail through the Kingdom and discovers the modern nation and its people.

Egypt. This episode, Kate Humble crosses the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia to Egypt following the frankincense trail of the Pharaohs. Travelling the length of the Nile, Kate enters Karnak, the world's largest religious site. She looks at the mummy of the once beautiful Queen of the Pharaohs, reveals the death rituals of the Pharaohs in the vast tomb of the Pyramids of Giza, jostles with thousands of ecstatic Christians, and in an extraordinary ceremony in the Sinai desert, she is cleansed of evil spirits.

Jordan and Israel. In this final episode, Kate Humble concludes her remarkable frankincense trail from Oman, across seven nations to Jordan, and on to Israel. She reveals the secrets behind the ancient Jordanian stone city of Petra, flies with a daredevil female pilot over the Sinai desert, travels to the sacred city Jerusalem, and finds out why a small plot of land is the most contested site in the world. Kate ends her extraordinary journey following in the footsteps of the Three Wise Men to Bethlehem.

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3 years ago

Am I the only one who saw the slaves...@1:09? Ms. Humble didn’t mention the modern day slaves held there...

7 years ago

It is very nice documentary about the gulf region particular the Saudi Arabia,Egypt and Oman.
Thank you very much Kate for producing such an informative film.

7 years ago

I love the history. I'm confused by the current state of affairs as it relates to the west.

eliza fortes
7 years ago

At this time, October 2015 the audio and the video are out of sync. mostly in the second half of the doc. It is very hard to hear once description and see another view. Please get it fixed.... Otherwise great!

7 years ago

Kate Humble is the most annoying woman currently in British television.

8 years ago

This documentary started off ok, then (at about 40mins) it turned into a sob story about a poor western white woman that had to wear the customary clothing of women in Saudi Arabia. The title of the movie should be "The poor British woman that was so dumb and ignorant, she went to the Middle East and had a whinge about Middle Eastern customs". In my opinion, dont waste your time watching this bigoted garbage.

9 years ago

I suffered through and finally had to give it was horrible and so was she and I'm not Muslim! Too many whites I've found think that everyone is happy to see them. I couldn't believe how she argued with her Saudi tour guide/driver at the women's basketball court, the whole documentary was awful and so was the editing.

Inaya Shujaat
9 years ago

The line I hated the most was, "I'm so lucky to be a woman living in the west." As a Muslim woman myself, I hear this garbage A LOT. I wear a headscarf, and on occasion, an abaya. And when I am not wearing an abaya, I am still wearing loose fitting clothes (nothing like the Yemeni woman she was with!).

While I do not personally wear the niqab (face veil), I was nonetheless offended by the comments that both she and the Yemeni made. Okay, I get it. You guys don't like it. You think it's oppressive, and uncomfortable, and all the other garbage that the un-informed think that it is. Simple fact is that many women CHOOSE to wear it, and they do not feel like it holds them back in any way (and I'm talking about Muslim women who are "luck to be living in the west").

I think one episode was enough for me to get the idea. This lady does, in fact, think the world should be like England. God forbid that there be different cultures from her own.

9 years ago

The Temple of Karnak was constantly added to due to the egyptians honouring the golden mean.. ie an endless spiral of life and NOT because the pharaohs wanted to outdo each other. This temple in particular is the embodiment of very high knowledge within a mathematical representation. Its funny how the egyptians of today fill europeans with their own flavour of disinformation.

9 years ago

I'm about one episode through this and i'm not going to make the end of the route. y'see my toes won't unfurl. It's not just the yellow blouse (um.. wardrobe??) or got-up like a silly t u r i s t a map-a-nose lost about Malaga, it's not the wedding steps with the goatherd who never really dreamed he'd get within pogoing distance of this blonde, sans burkha, decolette like some proverbial slut of the kaffir west. Then the subtext of the 'why don't you do-in-rome-and-cover-up-a-bit-yer-whisky-knob-hussy' clothing gift -- nicely sidestepped..
So why didn't they entitle it "We're so fkn multiculti pc up-ourselves we don't have to make any concession at all for any (automatically inferior) variant culture" ? It's none of that, that's just for wincing to .. 'I've never even sniffed, oo-er a rifle you see I spent all my life under a stone in Cambridge haaaar! ' , no it's just those bright-but-silly-schoolgirl wrists, expressing their continuous scandalised credibility ---- "why didn't somebody TELL me the world is at war?!&!) .. wow.. the sun is so hot.. hey.. these men are so craaazy, wow, this is profound! .. suck what?? " When are the english gonna get it --- the world is not england, and when you get out in it, it's as well to take the socks from under the sandals and adapt a bit. Great idea, lovely uh, gel, but frankly just a bit curly-toe.

10 years ago

Great documentary, had to watch it all in one hit. Asolutely enjoyed it, thank you.

11 years ago

good documentary

11 years ago

This lady should be a bit more respectful of tradition and culture in Saudi Arabia, otherwise, it was an interesting documentary.

11 years ago

Wonderful documentary. Yes, she can be annoying at times, but you should watch it to the end. Pay close attention to the signs (Arabic and Englsih only). Wonder why? 9/10 You'll be glad you saw this.

11 years ago

That was beautiful. She must have some higher power watching over her. It's amazing she managed to document her entire journey with just her cameraman, but I'm glad she did. I didn't expect the locals to wear jeans or to speak english so well. I'm wondering if it has something to do with American soldiers inhabiting the areas (which wasn't mentioned) because most spoke with American jargon and they used dollars (not Euros) as means of common currency. It's also amazing and almost incredible to see her being granted permission to meet this people of power, the Prince, his Holiness, various historians; my gosh- what did she do to gain access to see them? I mean millions of people would kill to see them and did she just give them a phone call?

I liked her journey. I enjoyed watching the people go about their business and I just can't imagine living under such circumstances (the heat, the dust, the politics, the religion). It must be very difficult to have to walk around under the sun and I can just picture the bug bites. Or the scorpion stings; I can't believe she didn't get stung. What I didn't like was her interviews.. or lack of. I mean there she is meeting people who have so much influence over the entire WORLD and she asks the STUPIDEST questions: "Is there such a thing as too much money?" WTF?? T__T"

She was too blunt with her opinons and the proper thing to document would be an objective point of view. I don't need to hear her opinion, she could just write a book about that. And she kept complaining about the lifestyles and cultures saying she didn't agree with it. Hello? You're there to document not change the world. She was annoying with her subjective perspective. But other than that, it was interesting. I will go buy some franincense myself when I get the chance. Of course it made such a big impact with world. It was the very first attempts of TRADE. Which led to a more unified planet, since the frankincense trade route actually began in China.

11 years ago

OK for you to sit in safety and critcise Arnie about bombings. You may not have noticed, but the bombings have declined markedly since the wall went up. Not everyone in Israel agrees with policy there and many people have NOT died because of the random bombings which would have occurred otherwise.They hit the innocent as well as the guilty. You would have been better to leave your naive politics out of this arena and simply commented on something you do know about. It's mostly a rather good documentary.Some useful information, although I feel the front lady could have made more concessions to local custom. She seems rather detached from the reality of the situation she is in, especially right at the start with the Omani camel herder.

11 years ago

Arnie. You may not have noticed, but the bombings have markedly declined since the wall went up. It's fine for you to sit in relative safety in isolation. Wait until someone starts bombing you. Your comment is naive at best

11 years ago

I loved the idea of this documentary but as a woman who has extensively traveled and worked in the Arab and Muslim world, the hostess' apparent lack of cultural sensitivity in her interactions and dress were so cringe-worthy I had to turn the documentary off.

11 years ago

Saudi Royal family is Jewish

11 years ago

Just an amazing series! Thank you BBC! I have learned more about Frankincence, its origin, history, ancient history and modern day uses than I ever thought possible! Educational story telling at its very best!

Episode 4 - Tragic and so silly the wall that Israel has built to isolate the Palestinian people from the Israelites. This is a wall that in my opinion should be torn down to allow the free mixing of both societies.

11 years ago

Episode 3 - I have to disagree with the information about Khufu's Pyramid. Recent evidence suggests that the Pyramid Complex on the Giza plateau was built around 10,500BC to 10,450BC, 7,000 years before Khufu's reign.

One of the purposes of the pyramid complex is that of a star clock that measures Earth's Great Year, the Precession that lasts 25,800 years.

The Sphinx marks the date of the Giza pyramid complex at 10,500BC to 10,450BC. The sun rose in the constellation LEO at the Vernal Equinox around 10,450BC.

The three smaller pyramids beside the largest pyramid mark the positions of the three stars of Orion's belt at their lowest point in Earth's Precession in 10,450BC. (the beginning)

In 2,400AD to 2,450AD the three smaller pyramids beside the smallest pyramid will mark the highest point of Orion's belt in Earth's Precession. (the midway point after 12,900 years)

The largest pyramid has also been determined to mark the winter solstice, summer solstice, spring equinox and fall equinox. Important for agriculture.

A minor detail to an otherwise great series that is very interesting and visually stunning!

11 years ago

Amazing documentary! It is wonderful to see this part of the world. All new! All wonderful!

11 years ago

Great docu ; very beautiful. ?

11 years ago

What a wonderful journey, it must have been unbelievable!
Thank you for this documentary.

11 years ago

The woman in this documentary is a first rate sniffer. Happy New Kibbles!

11 years ago

ex-military security guide Julian Davies assures us "a threat from al qaida does exist" in Yemen. (16:59) Talk about bullshit war propaganda in support of this phony 'war on terror.' -A lot of fascinating history & locations as well. ;}

11 years ago

I love this site where else on the web can you get such great entertainment commercial free Thank You

11 years ago

Really enjoyed this! I would love to go to Arabia... so beautiful

11 years ago

This was wonderful!! Thank you :)

11 years ago

Thanks facebook Arabic link. Saw this series when it was broadcast and am delighted to find this link so I can watch it again. what a pity severl of the places Kate visits are of limits at the moment. I was hoping to go to Yemen this year but it will have to wait, sadly.

11 years ago

Oh this sounds like an exciting adventure, Can't wait to watch it.