BBC TV Series About How Humans Spread All Over the World
The Incredible Human Journey is a fascinating five-episode science documentary that aired on the BBC in 2009 and on the Travel Channel in 2010. Each episode is an hour long. The series is primarily about investigating the migration of modern humans — that is, Homo sapiens — to Asia, to Europe, to Australia, and to the Americas. The underlying theory here is that every human on Earth today is descended from modern humans who lived in Africa.
Perhaps the single most stunning idea in the series is that roughly 70,000 years ago a handful of African families crossed the Red Sea and settled on the Arabian shore, eventually giving rise to the entire human population of the world outside of Africa.
But the series is filled with thought-provoking material. People migrated to frigid Siberia because the hunting was good, but were driven south to China by an Ice Age. People migrated to Europe, only to find themselves in competition with Neanderthals, but modern humans won out, possibly because of our larger, stronger social networks. Also, there's now evidence that humans walked from Siberia into Alaska a couple of thousand years earlier than previously believed, then apparently used rafts to gradually work their way down the coast to southern Chile. But one of the most difficult things to explain is how people got to Australia tens of thousands of years ago since they would seemingly have to cross at least 90 miles of ocean to get there.
Dr. Alice Roberts, Charismatic TV Personality
The material in The Incredible Human Journey is essentially a complex mix of genetics, anthropology, archaeology, geography and climatology, and you might expect it could get boring. But it doesn't, largely due to the fact that everything is seen through the eyes of an enthusiastic British woman who is about 36 years old, Dr. Alice Roberts.
Roberts is a gifted teacher who understands that television works best when you show rather than tell. Thus she sleeps outdoors in the jungle at night, jogs with Bushmen, walks through a cave where the water is up to her armpits, climbs a snowy mountain, takes a raft trip on the ocean, hangs out with tribal people, and tries out various primitive tools. But the main thing is that she makes the series into an adventure story, and we viewers are fortunate enough to get to travel along with her. The story she is telling is about DNA, bones and stones, but she manages to inject it with a flesh-and-blood warmth.
Release Date: August 24, 2010
Number of Discs: 2
Total Runtime: 4 hours 53 minutes