“The Story of Us, Then”

BBC Two is currently running a series of programmes on History. Last night kicked off with the first episode of a series called Ancient Worlds, fronted by historian and archaeologist Richard Miles. I thought it was very good. Here’s a Guardian article about Miles and the programme.

I was struck by Miles’ statement in the programme that this was not a story of long-dead civilisations, but that this was “the story of us, then” – his point being that despite living 6,000 years ago, the people were recognisably just like us. He illustrated this by reading a letter (incised on a clay tablet) from a merchant’s wife to her husband, who was working away from home in a city. She was bemoaning the fact that he never sent her enough money to cover her expenses in running the house, and their neighbour had just had a new house built for his wife; why wouldn’t he do that for her?

As I’ve mentioned before, our operating system is still at Homo sapiens version 1.0, despite our strides in technology, so Miles has a point, I believe.

In watching the programme and listening to Miles, I was also reminded of the atmosphere of Samuel R. Delany’s Return to Nevèrÿon series of books. Tales that seem to be set in an ancient civilisation (or possibly in the far future, where much of technology has been once again lost), yet which deal with human themes immediately recognisable to us today. I must reread them again.

About Geoff Coupe

I'm a British citizen, although I have lived and worked in the Netherlands since 1983. I came here on a three year assignment, but fell in love with the country, and one Dutchman in particular, and so have stayed here ever since. On the 13th December 2006 I also became a Dutch citizen.
This entry was posted in Archeology, History, Television. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to “The Story of Us, Then”

  1. technogran says:

    I’ll make a point of watching this program Geoff. Is it a series? If so I will set my recorder to record it. I always enjoy watching programs about our history. I find them fascinating despite the fact that when I was at school I wasn’t particularly interested in history at all.

  2. Geoff Coupe says:

    Hi, TG, yes, it is a series – there are six episodes in all. See http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00w0bl0

    I think the first episode is being repeated tonight at midnight on BBC HD, or (since you live in the UK), you can catch it on iPlayer…

  3. technogran1 says:

    No Geoff, I’ll record it on BBC HD. I have it on my 3View HD personal video recorder. Thanks for the heads up. Will set it up as a series link.

  4. Pingback: 2010 in review | Geoff Coupe's Blog

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