January 9, 2016

Good documentaries on human Prehistory

I just watched the documentary "First Peoples - Asia" (by NOVA) and found it quite good, discussing many of the issues that I and the readers of this blog have been following and discussing the last years on the settling of Asia (and geographical dependencies): the Zhirendong jaw, the Nubian points of Arabia, the archaic admixture events... 

The only issue is that for some odd reason (copyright masking?) interviewed people voices often have a too high pitch.

I hope the other four documentaries of the series are similarly good. I haven't watched them yet but the full playlist is embedded below beginning with the Asian colonization movie. For many readers it won't be that interesting personally (they already know all or most of it, maybe even better than what the movie explains) but it is still a promising tool to share your hobby with family and friends, so watch it in good company. 


Update (Jan 9):

I've watched already four of them (Africa, Asia, Australia and Europe) and the European one is no doubt the worst: a superficial Neanderthal hybridization neo-myth spearheaded by John Hawks. Also the only map or description of the route followed by modern humans to Europe is absolute nonsense: directly from Africa via Palestine, when in fact it's extremely clear that at least most of the lineages went all the way to SE Asia and back before ever entering Europe. What happened to the spear in the rib of Zawi Chemi Shanidar man? What happened to the very fast replacement in the early Aurignacian, coincident with the Campanian Ignimbrite eruption? What about dogs? Not a word! Just whitewashing of the probably quite violent Sapiens-Neanderthal interaction. You can skip that one, really, it's pretty much nonsense.

Some hyper-hybridationism permeates all the documentaries but the others seem much better: the Asia one is quite good, the Africa one is not bad either (although could be much better if they paid more attention to archaeology, also Africa deserves 50% of the documentary space probably), the Australia one is OK but it simply ignores Papua and Wallacea altogether, what is a bit perplexing to say the least. The Europe one is just horrible: it has some facts but half of it its John Hawks' preaching his particular ideology about people being oh-so-nice that they probably used spears as toothpicks, Paabo making a lot of extra work for the cleaning crew (spectacular admittedly but should be in a separate Neanderthal docu, not in one dedicated to H. sapiens) and some real archaeology scattered around (but definitely not enough at all).

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