New Lost Kingdoms

Regular readers may remember my enthusing over the two BBC series of Lost Kingdoms of Africa. Well they have done it again, but this time the focus has changed. The new series looks at South America and is hosted by Dr. Jago Cooper of the British Museum (who has the advantage of speaking excellent Spanish). There are four programs, each of which looks at a South American culture or two that you have probably never heard of.

There is some amazing material. I was blown away by the cliff tombs of the Chachapoya, and loved the fact that the Tiwanaku are starting to re-use the scared solar observatory in their ancient capital city. Then there’s the segment where Cooper visits a village in Colombia of what is believed to be a remnant of the Tairona living much as their ancestors did. I’d love to do a story about a group of English pirates visiting Ciudad Perdida to trade, as apparently did take place.

Oh, and modern theory suggests that the quipu, far from being simply accounting devices, could be used to create books. No one has any idea how to translate them, but the potential information content is huge.

There’s so much more to South America than the Inca (and remember that the Maya and Aztec lived much further north). The programs are available on iPlayer, though I have no idea what territorial restrictions might apply. One of the four programs, the one set in Colombia, is on YouTube. With any luck the rest will follow. There’s also a section of the British Museum website devoted to the series.

Talking of my favorite museum, next time I’m in London I may just splurge £10 on a visit to the Ice Age Art exhibition. It sounds awesome.

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2 Responses to New Lost Kingdoms

  1. And, huzzah, Lost Kingdoms of Africa is finally available on Netflix here…

  2. Narmitaj says:

    Fun typo: “the scared solar observatory”. I went to Tiwanaku once (Explore Worldwide trip to Peru and Bolivia about 20 years ago). Impressive and austere.

    Of course we also went to Machu Picchu (not in Cooper’s series, as he was doing more out-of-the-way pre-Inca stuff) which is still a great place, albeit touristified. Photos (even mine, ho ho) really don’t do the landscape justice and it is even more tremendous than it looks (though I guess it is probably overcrowded nowadays). No Stonehenge-style busy road just out of shot, for instance, or Giza-Pyramids-style Cairo-sized city right next door.

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