Time Team is back! Proclaim it from the hills Time Team is back! TIME TEAM IS BACK! This British classic aired on TV from 1994 to 2014. In the past two years, Time Team added a YouTube channel showing classic episodes of Time Team. This prompted a demand for the TV series to return. Through fundraising through Patreon, Tim Taylor, the producer was able to announce the return of the Time Team.
On May 2021, there was an official announcement of the Time Team’s return. Now viewers from all over the world will be able to watch new episodes of Time Team on YouTube. They will be free to everybody. If you subscribed to Time Team through Patreon, viewers will be able to access bonus content and updates on the sites they dig. The premise for the show will be the same: three days to examine a site and help the local population preserve and understand a bit of their history. The bonus content will allow the viewer to get a picture behind the scenes from the dig.
The new Time Team will consist of Carenza Lewis, John Gater, Helen Geake, Stewart Ainsworth, Raysan Al-Kubaisi, Neil Emmanuel, Naomi Sewpaul, Matt Williams, Henry Chapman, Dani Wootton, Brigid Gallagher, Neil Holbrook, Suzannah Lipscomb, Jimmy Adcock, Natalie Haynes, Derek Pitman, Lawrence Shaw, and Pete Spencer. Many of the original camera people are also returning. They will continue to use the artwork the late Victor Ambrose created for the original show. The Ambrose family permitted the team to use Victor’s archive for the new show.
Unfortunately, Tony Robinson and Phil Harding will not participate in Time Team so far. I, for one, will miss Tony’s narration and excitement over the digs. Phil will also be greatly missed as well. I especially liked the way Phil explained things about the dig and what was found. I hope that they will show up from time to time. Although the new show won’t be the same without them, I am excited about how the new Time Team episodes will turn out.
In honor of Time Team’s return, I gave myself a challenge: Blog 31 Days of Time Team. Every day in March, I will feature a classic Time Team episode. This is a celebration of the Time Team’s return. During the Pandemic, it was my one go-to binge TV series, and if I was not binging, I would pop a Time Team on. If you can support Time Team through Patreon, go for it. Help Time Team bring more episodes to YouTube.
The original Time Team explored a variety of sites from a variety of historical eras. They rooted for Romans, looked up Naughty Nuns, lost monasteries, and explored World War II. The digs could often get frustrating. They could be confused by what they found. They also left the shores of England and helped on digs in America and Spain. There were a variety of helpers who provided additional context to the digs. They even got the Queen’s permission to dig in Buckingham Palace!
Just because it is a British TV series does not mean American teachers’ cannot use it. Time Team presented a variety of topics in archelogy which helps enhance student’s understanding of history. Teachers, you should be able to find something that you can match with your history class. The Roman Digs was particularly exciting. Science and STEM teachers can also demonstrate practical applications of what students are learning. This Time Team will feature how far technology and its application in archeology.
Let the 31 Days of Time Team commence! I hope that teachers and students find something to use for the classroom or further research.
This is the February round-up of the blogs I featured for the month!
George Washington Carver Tech - YouTube
George Washington Carver is known worldwide for his research into peanuts. He saw infinite uses for the peanut plant and inspired generations on researching the peanut plant. He worked at the Tuskegee institution and worked in agricultural research. His research would revitalize the southern region. Carver was born into slavery and was kidnapped by bushwalkers. He was taken in by a family and raised as their own. He worked in the house and was able to explore nature. Nature would inspire his research. *Highly recommended for history and agricultural classrooms and biography projects.*
Ida B. Wells - YouTube
Ida B. Wells’ story starts at the end of the Civil War and highlights growing up years. At 16 years old, she returned to the plantation where her family was. She had found out her parents died and so she decided to take on the challenge of raising her siblings. She got a teaching job and was the breadwinner of the family. Her grandmother helped her out. She would eventually make her way to Chicago where she would become an investigative journalist and a passionate suffragist. *Recommended for an American history class as well as class projects.*
The Lost African Metropolis of Mapungubwe - YouTube
The Lost African Metropolis of Mapungubwe is about the ancient African Kingdom that was on the northern border of South Africa. It was in the Limpopop Valley, and this valley divides Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Many clues are still buried in the ground, and these clues can tell the story of the Mapungubwe Metropolis. It was the largest known settlement in Africa. *Recommended for college history and archeology classrooms.*
Tuskegee Airmen - YouTube
Dogfight: The Tuskegee Airmen is a History Channel-produced documentary about the Tuskegee Airmen. They guarded bomber groups as they carried on raids in Germany and Eastern Europe. They were the best at guarding the bombers and fighting the Germans. This documentary has the Tuskegee Airmen speak about their experiences in the fighter group. *Recommended for independent student students and American history classes.*
The Black Pharoh's of Ancient Egypt - YouTube
David Adams goes to the lands of the Kush and explores the history of the Black Pharaoh of Egypt. He travels down the part of the Nile that has never been traveled down. Adams wants to learn more about how these pharaohs impacted ancient Egypt. Nearly 3,000 years ago the Kings of Kush conquered Egypt. They would rule Egypt for nearly a century. Adams follows the trail of a British general as he marched to Khartoum. How did these kings of Kush do it? Adams explores this question. *Recommended for a geography class, but not a history class.*
Lost Kingdoms of Africa
Nubia - YouTube
Gus Casely-Hayford explores the Lost Kingdoms of Africa. His first lost kingdom is Nubia. The history of Africa was not written down all the time. However, the people of Africa preserved their culture through objects. Nubia was the traditional name of Northern Sudan. The civilization dominated the area in the Sahara. For the Egyptians, they were a source of slaves and treasures. For the Romans, the Nubians were barbarian people. The Nubians were ultimately defeated by their environment. *Highly recommended for a history class. Also recommended for independent study students.*
Ethiopia - YouTube
Gus Casely-Hayford explores the lost kingdom of Ethiopia. In 1974, the Ethiopian military rose against the king and deposed him. It brought to an end one of the world’s longest dynasties. The Ethiopians remember their empire proudly. King Menelik II fought back against any attempts to invade it and make it a colony. Gus wants to go back to ancient times to try to find the secrets of the Ethiopian empire. What will he find? What made the Ethiopians so independent? *Highly recommended for a history class. Also recommended for independent study students.*
Great Zimbabwe - YouTube
Great Zimbabwe was discovered in 1871. A German geologist stumbled upon some splendid ruins. He had no idea who built the stone structure. He assumed that they were not built by Africans. However, that myth has been dispelled. Could Great Zimbabwe be the equivalent of El Dorado? Gus Casely-Hayford travels the length of Africa to discover the secrets of Great Zimbabwe. *Highly recommended for a history class. Also recommended for independent study students.*
West Africa - YouTube
Gus Casely-Hayford begins at the British Museum. He is exploring the Kingdom of Benin. When the British discovered the artifacts they did not believe they were carved by Africans. However, they are not carvings, they were copper cast. Copper casting is a difficult skill to masters and the fact that Africans mastered it baffled Europeans for ages. Where did the Benin people learn these skills? How did they manufacture these artifacts? Gus goes to Nigeria to find out. *Highly recommended for a history class. Also recommended for independent study students.*
Zulu - YouTube
In Eastern South Africa, there was a battle. It was where the British army was humiliated. The British had the latest in war-making technology and they were defeated by an army armed with spears and old muskets. They were brought down by the Zulu empire. Gus Casely-Hayford explores the people beyond that story. The Zulu were a peaceful people, more interested in raising cattle than war. How did the Zulu rise to power? *Highly recommended for a history class. Also recommended for independent study.*
Berbers of Morocco - YouTube
The Berbers turned the northwest corner of Africa into a kingdom. The Sahara Desert has one of the harshest climates in the world. It is an unlikely location for an empire. However, the Berbers did it. This empire stretched from the Sahara to Spain. This kingdom lasted for centuries. The Berbers left their mark on this stretch of desert. How did the Berber nomads create an empire in the desert? *Not recommended for a history or independent study students.*
David Adams goes to the lands of the Kush and explores the history of the Black Pharaoh of Egypt. He travels down the part of the Nile that has never been traveled down. Adams wants to learn more about how these pharaohs impacted ancient Egypt. Nearly 3,000 years ago the Kings of Kush conquered Egypt. They would rule Egypt for nearly a century. Adams follows the trail of a British general as he marched to Khartoum. How did these kings of Kush do it? Adams explores this question.
The Nile was the lifeline of the Kushite kingdom. However, it is a thin lifeline. Barely a mile from its banks is desert. Adams explores Sudan to learn more about the Black Pharaohs of Egypt. Even today, the descendants of the Kushites still live in colorful mud houses. Adams tours a school and tells the student about his home in Australia. After this visit, he goes off to explore more about the Kings of Kushites.
Across the river from the school, Adams sees a reminder of the past: an old fort. It was a reminder of how the Nile was fought over. Then he sees a temple built by Amenhotep III. It was this temple that the Kushite kings gained their inspiration for building. Amenhotep III had an outpost in the Nubian Kingdom because it was seen as the end of the earth for Ancient Egyptians.
As Adams travels the Nile, he runs into the third cataract. He cannot go further. This cataract was the original border of Ancient Egypt and the Kushite Kingdom. The next day, Adams goes on the trail of the Kushite Kings. It was here where the Black Pharoah’s launched their invasion of Egypt. Then Adams discusses the modern history of Sudan and talks about the riverboat culture of the Nile. Adams then experiences a local tradition: being buried in the sand. He is reminded of the tradition where when a Pharaoh died his wives and courtiers were buried alive with him.
Adams goes further into Sudan to learn more about the Black Pharaohs. He enters the land of old pyramids and temples. These temples and pyramids date back to the Black Pharaohs. He climbs a sacred mountain and it was from this mountain that the Black Pharaohs launched their invasion of Egypt. This sacred mountain was the home of the gods; where heaven and earth came together. It was the highest point in Sudan and the place where they could survey their kingdom.
Inside this mountain is a secret labyrinth and inside Adams discovered pictographs. It was here that the Pharaohs prayed to become gods. It was here that the pharaohs planned to launch their invasion of Egypt. After viewing a wedding, Adams wants to go further into the desert to see the pyramids of the black pharaohs. He goes on a train journey.
Adams eventually sees the pyramids of the Black Pharaohs’. These pyramids are known as the “forgotten pyramids.” These pyramids are relatively new, about 2,400 years old. However, like their counterparts in the north, these pyramids have been vandalized by tomb raiders. Nineteen kings and fifty-three queens were buried in these pyramids. The tops of these pyramids were blown off by a treasure hunter. This pyramid complex highlights the uniqueness of the Kushite civilization.
This series is more of a travel documentary than a historical documentary series. It would be a good fit for a geography class. I would not show the full documentary to a history class, but I would use clips in a lecture from this documentary. Other than clips, I do not recommend this documentary for a history class.
Good morning, today we are going to explore the life of Ida B. Wells. This is from the Public Television station in Chicago.
Ida B. Wells’ story starts at the end of the Civil War and highlights growing up years. At 16 years old, she returned to the plantation where her family was. She had found out her parents died and so she decided to take on the challenge of raising her siblings. She got a teaching job and was the breadwinner of the family. Her grandmother helped her out. She would eventually make her way to Chicago where she would become an investigative journalist and a passionate suffragist.
Ida and her siblings made their way to Memphis to live with her aunt. Ida enjoyed the city life but would teach in the country. She enjoyed dressing well. She successfully sued a railroad company for forcing her to move to the smoking car. She eventually lost the case and this was before Rosa Parks and the NAACP. All Ida had was herself and her attorney. She was starting to make a name for herself in Memphis.
Ida joined up with a group of African American teachers. She demonstrated a continued thirst for learning and worked to sharpen her skills. She scraped together what funds she could gather to continue to learn. The teachers would then ask her to write for their journal. The proposal shocked her but she threw herself into writing. She loved writing and could express herself better through writing. She wrote about education. She documented segregation and the teachers. She had a low opinion of some of the teachers. She did not get in trouble for speaking against her employer.
Writing became Ida’s true passion. She bought into a local newspaper and became its editor. The readership tripled with her as the head. She made waves. She then started writing against lynching. One murder changed her life. The man who was murdered was her friend and he had opened up a grocery store. This grocery store competed with a white grocery store owner. Things came to a head over a marble game. A posse was gathered, the grocery owners were arrested and the grocery owners were lynched.
Ida began to wonder about lynching. She started speaking out against lynching. She went across the south with a book in hand. She interviewed witnesses and documented their stories. After that, she wrote a blistering editorial. She wrote to inform and shame. Within days, her editorial was reprinted. The Memphis press wanted vengeance against Ida, unaware that the person who wrote it was a woman. The newspaper Ida wrote for was destroyed and she had fled Memphis.
Ida arrived in Chicago having lost everything. In Chicago, she was free, to tell the truth. At the Worlds Fair, she pleads for inclusion. Ida used the international stage to expose lynching. She pulled no punches in her work. After the Worlds Fair, she set out to find allies in her anti-lynching campaign. When she returned to Chicago, she met up with Ferdinand Barnett, who would eventually become her husband. He was ten years older than her. He also liked strong women and encouraged Ida in her endeavors. What did Ferdinand do to encourage Ida’s work, continue to watch this documentary to find out?
This would be a good episode to show in an American History class and for students working on a project on Ida B. Wells. This documentary is a gem when it comes to exploring the life of Ida B. Wells. Teachers, you are only limited by your imagination to how you use this documentary in the classroom.
Today, I am doing a Modern Marvels episode about George Washington Carver Tech.
George Washington Carver is known worldwide for his research into peanuts. He saw infinite uses for the peanut plant and inspired generations on researching the peanut plant. He worked at the Tuskegee institution and worked in agricultural research. His research would revitalize the southern region. Carver was born into slavery and was kidnapped by bushwalkers. He was taken in by a family and raised as their own. He worked in the house and was able to explore nature. Nature would inspire his research.
Carver asked why and these questions would lead to a love of painting. He loved learning and sought to further his education. He walked to school and was determined to learn. He lived with another family and worked for food and board so he could go to school. He drew a picture of the school and the house he lived. Eventually, he applied to college but was turned away because of his skin color. He went to Simpson College in Iowa. He first started classes in painting. His painting leads to understanding nature and it was here he changed his study from art to agriculture.
His keen eye and his eagerness to learn made an impression on the people around him. After he graduated with his bachelor he was offered a teaching job at Iowa State. Booker T. Washington then offered him a job at Tuskegee. Carver was the only black agricultural expert in the country. So he went to Alabama to teach at Tuskegee. Little did the Carver know that he would make some serious discoveries.
When Carver arrived in Alabama, he was disappointed to see that there were no peanut fields. Instead, Alabama was filled with cotton fields. Depending on one single crop would eventually lead to an economic collapse. The soil would wear out if it constantly grew one crop. The soil would be depleted. However, the people would also be vulnerable, especially with a crop tied to one industry. Carver wanted to change that.
However, he needed a laboratory. He did not have money to start one, so he went out to the junkyard and grabbed what he could to form his first lab. The first lab at Tuskegee was started. HE then went to the farmers and showed how the soil was being ruined by growing one type of crop. He then explained what could be grown to put life back into the soil. Then he established the Moveable School program and went into the community to talk to the farmers. One group stood in his way: the banker. The bankers did not want to give loans for other crops. However, the boll weevil was making its way to Alabama and these insects would destroy the cotton crop.
The peanut would be the best defense against this menace the boll weevil. However, there was no market for peanuts. Carver would have to explore ways to make the peanut useful. He found 300 different ways to use the peanut. It could be used in floor wax, soups, soap, and shaving cream. In 1915, the boll weevil hit Alabama and destroyed the cotton crop. The peanut would have to be the crop grown in the south. Peanut became a lucrative crop for the south.
Continue to watch this episode to learn more about the peanut and George Washington Carver’s research.
This would be a good episode to show in history and an agricultural class. If you had a student working on a biography of George Washington Carver this would be an excellent episode to recommend to them.
Today, I am going to blog a History Channel Documentary: Dogfights: Tuskegee Airman Break Barriers.
July 18, 1944, the Tuskegee Airman are escorting bombers to bomb an airbase in Austria. Suddenly, the enemy is spotted. The airmen are sent into action and they start fighting. They are led by a pair that has the nickname “The Gruesome Twosome.” Captain Wendall Pruitt and Lee Archer are leading the way in the dogfight. They are on the tail of a German aircraft.
However, there is something wrong with Pruitt’s plan. The guns are jammed and Archer takes on the chase. He locks on his target and shoots. This is Archer’s first victory in the skies. Archer and Pruitt return to the fight. Another fighter goes after a German plane. He gives chase and shoots him down. He narrowly avoids crashing as the plane in front of him explodes. His aircraft is unscathed. Then he spots another target and goes after this second target. He goes after a third target and the German crashes into the mountain. He returns to his unit. The Tuskegee Airmen shot down 12 aircraft in one day.
At the start of World War II, African American men were regulated to support roles. They were deemed as inferior and unable to learn how to fly a plane, let alone a fighter plane. However, with increasing pressure, African American men were allowed to train as fighter pilots. They were trained at the Tuskegee Institute and the efforts to train the men were deemed as “an experiment.” World War II was the first time African American men could be assigned to combat uniforms.
In April 1943, the 99th Air Squadron was sent to the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. Two additional squadrons were also sent, they would be assigned the number 332nd Squadron and they would be known as the Tuskegee Airmen. The Tuskegee Airmen would be fighting against a veteran and tenacious enemy. The Tuskegee Airmen would be tested like never before.
The 332nd Squadron is heading to Czechoslovakia and an airfield there. The enemy is alerted and is going to engage with the Tuskegee airmen. The Tuskegee airmen are going to go toe to toe with Germany’s most advanced single-engine fighter. One fighter pair goes after one of the German fighters and it is led by a fighter named McGee. The German fighter does whatever he can to try to lure the Tuskegee airman to an airfield that was bombed earlier by the Americans. The German fighter hoped to take out an American air fighter.
The German did not succeed. He made a mistake. He turned towards McGee and McGee opened fire on him. The German fighter is done for, he hits the ground exploding on contact. McGee lives to fight another day, McGee’s wingman who had gotten lost in the chase catches up with McGee, and they return to the position guarding bombers. Their reputation for being a good escort as well as a fighter grew. Stars and Stripes, a military magazine, wrote about the squadron and their reputation.
The Tuskegee Airmen flew mission after mission as the bombers went after dams, airfields, marshaling yards, and oil rigs. They flew all over Eastern Europe. To continue to learn more about the Tuskegee Airmen continue to watch this episode.
If you are interested in military history or aviation history, then you should watch this episode. There was a discussion on the specs for the fighters. At 15:00 minutes there is the discussion of the two fighter planes and aerial combat strategies. If you have an independent study student, then you can recommend this episode for them to watch. This would also be a good episode to show during an American History class on World War II.
Today, Gus Casely-Hayford explores the Berber Kingdom of Morocco. How could an empire be built in the Sahara Desert? Tune into this episode to find out!
The Berbers turned the northwest corner of Africa into a kingdom. The Sahara Desert has one of the harshest climates in the world. It is an unlikely location for an empire. However, the Berbers did it. This empire stretched from the Sahara to Spain. This kingdom lasted for centuries. The Berbers left their mark on this stretch of desert. How did the Berber nomads create an empire in the desert?
Twenty-First century Morocco is a Muslim kingdom, ruled by a king who claims descent from Muhammad. It has a cost that runs from the Atlantic ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The Atlas Mountains find their home in Morocco. Half the population still speaks the Berber language. The Berbers were farmers, traders, and nomads. They became Muslim and maintained their traditional Berber customs.
One man turned the Berber people into Muslims. He had studied the Koran and became a fiery preacher. Abdullah. He pulled together an alliance of tribes and was their spiritual leader. In 1054, he led an army to a trading post. This trading post was one of the most important cities in Africa. This city was called Sijilmassa and its remains are spectacular. Sijilmassa was a city of over 50,000 people. It remains to hide a more significant past. The city was wealthy and was the commercial hub of Morocco. It was in an oasis.
Africa was looking to the Sahara Desert for trade instead of the Atlantic. They traded Gold, books, and horses. Gold made the city wealthy. Sijilmassa minted gold coins and sent them all over the world. It was the envy of all empires. Only one man succeeded in taking the city. Then the army secured the sources of the gold trade. Awdaghust was taken and the Berbers had a monopoly on the gold trade.
After these two were taken, the Berbers had what they needed to take the rest of Morocco. However, there was one thing missing: water. The Berbers were excellent at finding water and building irrigation for water. Below the surface, there was a complex of tunnels that funneled water under the landscape. Water could be funneled for miles. This shows that the Berbers were more than familiar with their landscape.
The next step in spreading the Islamic message was to cross the Atlas Mountains. The mountains were dangerous and it would have been a challenge for any army to cross. Thieves were also attracted to the area. The trade routes through the Atlas Mountains were dotted with fortified houses. The merchants needed to be protected along the trade routes. The Berber army crossed over the Atlas Mountains and invaded Aghmat.
Aghmat would be the launching point for further conquest. It was based north of the Atlas Mountains and was in a green valley. At first, the history of Aghmat was lost, until archeological excavations uncovered the city. A bathhouse from this time was excavated almost intact. It was one of the biggest bathhouses in the Muslim world.
The Berbers enjoyed city life, however, they did not like where the city was located. The Atlas Mountains surrounded Aghmat. Aghmat was not a good city for defensive purposes. The Berbers would eventually move to a new, pitch their tents in an open field, and create a new city: Marrakesh. To find out more about the Berbers and Morocco continue to watch this documentary.
It was a huge misstep not to share the history of the Berbers pre-Islaam. What were the Berbers like before their conversion? This was a disappointing episode in the Lost Kingdoms of Africa series. This episode would not be one I would show to a history class.
Good morning, today we are going to explore the Zulu Kingdom. This series was part of the Lost Kingdoms of Africa series and comes from the second series. This series is led by Gus Casely-Hayford.
In Eastern South Africa, there was a battle. It was where the British army was humiliated. The British had the latest in war-making technology and they were defeated by an army armed with spears and old muskets. They were brought down by the Zulu empire. Gus Casely-Hayford explores the people beyond that story. The Zulu were a peaceful people, more interested in raising cattle than war. How did the Zulu rise to power?
The Zulu were people who raised cattle. That changed with trade. However, trading led to trouble. The Dutch, British, and Portuguese traded in South Africa. Trading started in the 16th Century and continued well into the 18th Century. Rival ethnic groups started to vie for attention. This led to clashes. Smaller chiefdoms started to shrink. They were fighting for control and access to the water routes. However, out of the turmoil, a leader emerged from the Zulu people.
Shaka was his name. He was a leader. He was the founder of the Zulu nation. He transformed the Zulu chiefdom into a kingdom and a large military force. It took only twelve years for the Zulu to change. Unfortunately, there are no good records available about Shaka. Myths have grown up around the man. He is seen as a romantic person. Others he is a brutal dictator. Gus has to get second-hand knowledge of Shaka. Shaka was raised in a neighboring chiefdom. He learned how to rule and to be a soldier. When he returned to the Zulu people he became chief. In becoming chief, he transformed the lives of his people.
What was true behind Shaka’s efforts? Did Shaka rule with fear? Were the people scared of him? Was he a benevolent ruler? There seemed to be a mixture of people’s reactions to Shaka. Gus meets with a descendant of Shaka himself to talk about his ancestor. Shaka united the people and create the Zulu identity. Today, Shaka is known as a protector and defender of the people.
Today, a small regiment performs on ceremonial occasions. Shaka built his army through conscription. The young men were separated from Zulu society, cementing loyalty to the Zulu king. Each regiment had a name and a leader. By creating an army, Shaka was able to unite the Zulu nation. Even the Zulu weaponry was changed. Shaka favored a short spear. If you lost your spear, you were known as a coward. If you lost your spear, you would be executed and left for the vultures. Gus throws himself into learning how to fight with the spears.
The Zulu were transformed from cattle-herding people into a militarized people. With the military, he was able to turn his small chiefdom into a kingdom. Gus explores this period of conquest and incorporation. The people who were conquered had a choice: join or be exiled. So what happened to these people? Tune into this documentary to find out more about the Zulu people and Shaka.
Gus Casely-Hayford continues to explore the lost kingdoms of Africa. His episode on the Zulu was a fascinating look at this people, particularly its leader Shaka. Gus is an excellent narrator for this series and dives deep into the history of Shaka. I would have liked to have learned more about the Zulu before Shaka, but I understand that Shaka looms large over Zulu History. This would be a good documentary to show in a history class or for an independent study student.
The Lost African Metropolis of Mapungubwe is about the ancient African Kingdom that was on the northern border of South Africa. It was in the Limpopop Valley, and this valley divides Botswana, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Many clues are still buried in the ground, and these clues can tell the story of the Mapungubwe Metropolis. It was the largest known settlement in Africa.
Mapungubwe was concealed on a hill but it was a powerful kingdom. It means Place of the Jackal or Place of the Stone. In 1933, farmers discovered the riches of the people. The artifacts that were found are stored in a museum, unseen by the public. This valley was the home of the first cattle settlement. 800 years ago, the people buried their last king. A new king was elected in his place. His grave lies peacefully on top of the hill.
Mapungubwe is home to the king. The people hauled sand up the hills to level out the mountain. The Mapungubwe valley was the first site where cotton was grown. The soil conditions and the rainfall amounts help provide for the farmers. These conditions lead to the rise of Mapungubwe. Seafarers were attracted to the coast and they would eventually make their way to the coast. The Mapungubwe coast was the hub for trading. This trading contributed to the rise of Mapungubwe.
The Mapungubwe king controlled as much territory as the Zulu king. He lived on top of a hill. However, as the resources became exhausted. They looked to the interior for more resources. Trading made the site of Mapungubwe expand.
Schroder, one of the hills was home to the first cattle settlement. Cattle were used to barter, even today. Eventually, the residents started trading in beads. Beads were in high demand. In 1000 AD another settlement sprung up, it was known as K2. They were conquerors and they started crafting their glass beads. These conquerors stored up wealth and tried to keep glass beads exclusive to their higher classes. Trade activities went up and now gold was introduced. Cattle were no longer an indicator of wealth and were pushed to the side.
Commoners and the elite lived side by side, however, this would have to change and the elites moved up and lived on hills. This would lead the king to be separated from the people and this separation would show that the King was close to his ancestors. The commoners gathered into a court. The King was separated from his people, but his brother lived closer to the court and would be closer to the people.
It was a difficult path to get to the king. He lived on the hill with his wives and advisors. You would have to zig-zag to climb up the hill to either pay tribute or bring supplies to the king and his court. If the king sneezed, the whole kingdom knew about it.
The demand for gold grew and it made the king wealthy. Gold was transformed into an internal value to the people. It was a challenge to get to the gold. Only one person at a time could go down the mine shafts to get gold. It would be then brought up to the surface where it would be worked by the metalworkers. These metal workers were skilled in iron and now turned their craft to craft gold. These gold objects were a mark of a great civilization. Continue to watch this documentary to learn more about Mapungubwe.
This is an older documentary on Mapungubwe. This documentary would be good for a college history class or a class on archeology. There are brief scenes of nudity in this documentary, so I would not recommend it for a private school or a regular high school.
The first series of Lost Kingdoms of Africa concludes with the kingdom of West Africa. What will Gus find out about the kingdoms of West Africa? Tune into this episode to find out.
Gus begins at the British Museum. He is exploring the Kingdom of Benin. When the British discovered the artifacts they did not believe they were carved by Africans. However, they are not carvings, they were copper cast. Copper casting is a difficult skill to masters and the fact that Africans mastered it baffled Europeans for ages. Where did the Benin people learn these skills? How did they manufacture these artifacts? Gus goes to Nigeria to find out.
Nigeria was home to the kingdom of Benin. Gus will then travel to Mali to discover more about the kingdoms of West Africa. He begins in the former kingdom’s capital. He sees a 500-year-old feat of engineering. Moats and walls protected the Benin capital. They stretched for an incredible 4,000 miles. These walls protected a very important city. The kingdom was governed from a palace by a hereditary ruler. He ruled a country over 40,000 square miles.
The British established a trade agreement with the Kingdom of Benin. However, relations soured, and as a result, there was a British massacre. The British fought back and raised the city to the ground. It was a huge defeat for Benin. When the British arrived at the palace, they discovered the bronzes. They could not believe that Africans had the skills to create them.
In 1914, the British brought back the king to Benin to help them administer their Nigerian colony. The King or Oba made rulings for the Benin kingdom. The Oba believes that the plaques were made to mark important events and rulings that were made by the Oba. They were not made for museums. Present-day bronze casters still have a guild. Membership is hereditary and they skill use their skills to cast bronze plaques.
Gus accepts that the bronze plaques were used to mark history and events, but he wants to know why they were created. He dives further into the history of the Lost Kingdoms of Africa. He goes to Mali and he wants to explore the evidence of the Benin craftsmanship. Timbuktu was the hub of trade for West Africa. Mansa Musa was the emperor of Mali and he was the richest man in Africa. He sent envoys to Europe.
Copper from North Africa made it's to Timbuktu and would eventually make its way to Benin. Gus talks with a historian about the bronzes. The historian explains that in Islam that images of human forms were forbidden. In Islam, poetry, geometry, and calligraphy were the art forms. So how did the Kingdom of Benin craftspeople manage to learn the casting techniques?
Gus continues to explore Mali to discover more about the skills behind the Benin Bronzes. He looks at the architecture of Mali. The wealth Mali had enabled it to create fantastic buildings. Gus ends up in front of a house of a wealthy man who showed that she had two wives and five children. Gus could tell this by how the man built the house. What will Gus find? Will he find the answers he seeks? Tune into this documentary to find out.
This is one neat episode about the Benin kingdom. Gus covers thousands of years of history in one episode. The downside of this series is that it was too short. I am glad that there was a second series for the Lost Kingdoms of Africa. This one would be a good filler episode, otherwise, I would share this episode with an independent study student.
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