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Arts & Culture


Nabta Playa, Egypt. (undated photo)
Courtesy of PBS
Nabta Playa, Egypt. (undated photo)

Airs Tuesdays, April 24-May 15, 2018 at 9 p.m. on KPBS TV

In this four-part series, explore the seedbed civilizations of Mesoamerica, the Middle East and the Indus Valley to learn how and why early humans, who had been mobile foragers, created villages, towns, cities and states, establishing the blueprint for the modern world.


Episode 1: “War” airs Tuesday, April 24 at 9 p.m. - Examine the process of “destructive creation” — the idea that fear, rivalry and conflict strengthen community bonds while stimulating an arms race of technological progress. The result is civilization. Ancient Mesoamerica exemplifies this development.


Episode 2: “Religion” airs Tuesday, May 1 at 9 p.m. - Discover the secret to the stability and cohesion of Ancient Egypt — religion. When people share a core set of beliefs, they are more likely to identify as one. That was true for the first civilizations and it’s just as true today.

Episode 3: “Cities” airs Tuesday, May 8 at 9 p.m. - View the birthplace of civilization: the Middle East, site of the world’s first villages, towns and cities, from the hills of Turkey to the plains of Iraq. They were crucibles of invention and innovation — turbo-charging the pace of progress.

Episode 4: “Trade” airs Tuesday, May 15 at 9 p.m. - Examine an ancient civilization unlike any other, that of the Indus Valley. Rather than imposing order through war or religion, it relied on the free flow of trade. The exchange of goods promoted wealth, co-operation and trust.

Produced by Wall to Wall Media.