Legacy: The Origins of Civilization

Legacy: The Origins of Civilization is a documentary series presented by Michael Wood, searching for the first civilizations and their continuing legacies. The series consists of six episodes, each of which focuses on one of the following regions: Iraq, India, China, Egypt, Central America, and the West. In the beginning of the series, Michael Wood narrates: "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." Then he travels around the world exploring those ancient cultures; he tries to show how different cultures have developed over time and how the past greatly influences all our lives.

1. Iraq: Cradle of Civilization

Iraq: 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.

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.

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.

Egypt: The Habit of Civilization
Ancient Egypt was the first great nation on earth and endured for thousands of years. The god-like Pharaoh was the rock on which this civilization was built. Ancient traditions come together in the Moslem culture that is the Middle East today.

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.

Europe: 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.

Related Links
Andrew Marr's History of the World
This is a eight-part BBC documentary series looking at 70,000 years of human history and the story of the world.
Stories from the Stone Age
This tries to explain how humans could change their way of life from nomadic hunter-gatherers living in small groups to farmers living in large societies.
Secrets of the Stone Age
This is a three-part documentary series hosted by Richard Rudgley, taking us on a journey back in time and around the world to discover the real roots of civilization.
Secrets of Archaeology
This is a 27-part documentary series which explores some of rediscovered ancient cities and archaeological sites.