Andrew Marrs - History of the World
(picture courtesy of NASA.gov)
1/8 How the earliest humans spread around the world, adapting and surviving against the odds.
Age of Empire
2/8 The story of the first empires which laid the foundations for the modern world.
The Word and the Sword
3/8 Charting the spiritual revolutions that shook the world between 300 BC and 700 AD.
Into the Light
4/8 Andrew reaches the Middle Ages, when Vikings explored and pillaged.
Age of Plunder
5/8 Andrew tells the story of Europe's rise from piracy to private enterprise.
6/8 Andrew explores a time when people worldwide rose up in the name of freedom and equality.
Age of Industry
7/8 Andrew Marr tells how Britain's Industrial Revolution created the modern world.
Age of Extremes
8/8 Andrew Marr brings the story of human civilisation up to date with the twentieth century.
(Pictures taken from Episode 1- Andrew Marrs - History of the World)
Episode One encompasses roughly seventy thousand years, and by doing so, is bound to miss quite a bit. I have read a few reviews of this series, mainly from British newspapers, and the general consensus seems to be negative. I do not feel the same. The inaccuracies that are often referred to, such as the mud-caked Africans walking out of Africa across a narrow bridge over a a gorge or the appearance/disappearance of Neanderthals, do not upset my historical sensibilities or raise racial uproar within me. These dramatic elements of reconstructed history do not detract from the overall message, but they do need to be taken with a grain of salt. This series inevitably leans more towards entertainment than erudition.
For example, Andrew refers to territorial competition and cannibalism as possible explanations for the extinction of Neanderthals, while leaving out recent studies linking them to Homo Sapiens through interbreeding. That being said, I do not think that being nit-picky about each and every detail is required, so long as the audience realizes that a condensed history is naturally one lacking in depth.
The sections later in the episode, depicting the Chinese canal project and Egyptian pyramids, are especially fascinating. The places that are touched on during this episode make me wish there was more time to go into depth, in order to expand certain subjects and correct the misconceptions that the brief sections leave scattered here or there. The development of farming is dealt with in a semi-ridiculous way, but the section about the canal project brings me back into the fold.
The trial of a pyramid worker illustrates the beginnings of Egyptian law, complete with depicted punishments for ancient drunken and disorderly. While the development of law and order cannot be summarized in such simple recreations, it does paint a picture of a changing world, heading headlong towards centralized control and the next episode, Empires.
ps... the last part about the Minoans...gruesome is the right word. Thanks Andrew.