Watch First Civilizations

Using the latest in archaeology, anthropology and genetics, this series tells the story of where the modern world began. Incorporating studies of artifacts, renowned sites of archaeological interest and interviews with leading experts, it moves around the geographic zones of the world, exploring how and why civilization first sparked into life.

Tuesday at 8:00 PM on PBS
1 Season, 4 Episodes
April 24, 2018
Documentary & Biography, History
6.4/10
Cast: Kerry Shale
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First Civilizations Full Episode Guide

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • The secret to the stability and cohesion of Ancient Egypt was religion. When people share a core set of beliefs, they are more likely to identify as one. That was true for the first civilizations, it's just as true today.

  • 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.

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