Stories From the Stone Age
An exploration of the revolutionary period of prehistory that began when humans abandoned the nomadic hunting and gathering existence they had known for millennia to take up a completely new way of life – the decisive move to farming and herding the ration of permanent settlements and the discovery of metals – setting the stage for the arrival of the world’s first civilisation.
Stores from the Stone Age ask some intriguing questions. Why did some of our ancestors never become farmers at all? Why do some still continue hunting and gathering despite their contact with farming people and advanced technologies? How and why did our paths become uniquely shaped after emerging as a species from a single genetic family in Africa?
Based on extensive research, Stories from the Stone Age takes us on a journey where we get to live alongside our ancestors as they cross between the Old and the New Worlds and into Civilisation. The series utilises detailed re-enactments and short interviews with key archaeological experts.
Ep 1 - Daily Bread
Daily Bread begins 15,000 years ago, at the end of the last Ice Age, when the world became warmer and wetter. Landscapes were changing everywhere, and plants and animals were flourishing. It was a hunter-gatherer's paradise. In the Middle East, the nomads were about to change the world forever. Here, a hunger-gatherer people called the Natufians used stone sickles to harvest huge crops of wild cereals. In order to stay put for long periods, they built semi-permanent circular stone huts, and - perhaps out of a new sense of belonging - buried their dead beneath the floors. But, after 1,500 years, this bold new culture was decimated. In a dramatic climate crash, the world suddenly became cold and dry again. Only a remnant of the Natufians survived by planting seeds saved from their wild harvest. They were not to know it but this small act was the beginning of true farming.
Ep 2 - Urban Dream
Urban Dream shows the early Europeans 12,000 ago, living a hard life in nomadic bands. For hundreds of generations they had followed the wild herds, depending on them for survival. But they were about to face a new challenge from the green hills of the Middle East. There, the hunter-gatherers had lived very well; they had abundant food and they had learned to hunt with dogs. But when the Middle East was hit with a sudden and catastrophic climate change - and more than 1,000 years of drought - the hunters were forced to change. To save themselves, they took control of their prey. They began to manage the wild herds and breed selectively, keeping the animals alive, rather than killing them.
Ep 3 - Waves of Change
Waves of Change starts 6,000 years ago in the Middle East, at a thriving town at the edge of the Dead Sea - Teleilat Ghassoul. The Ghassoulians had placed themselves directly on a major trade route that linked two great emerging powers - the Sumerians on the Euphrates and the Egyptians on the Nile. The Ghassoulians were the providers of mass-produced staples, such as olives - the liquid gold of the Middle East - and salt. Their trading culture was successful and sophisticated. Archeologists have found evidence of early irrigation. They had discovered copper; the smelters cast axe-heads and ornate ritual objects. It was a prime trade item, and the idea of trading and how to live by it - rather than farming - moved from the Middle East to Europe.
Year of Production: 2004
Production note: © Beyond Productions in association with S4C International
Duration: 3 x 54 mins