First up was the final episode of Lost Kingdoms of Africa - this one about Benin, which is in western Africa, part of modern Nigeria. He started by showing us some cast bronze plaques in the British Museum, which came from the city of Benin when the British sacked it back in the late 1800s (the Brits & the Benin people fell out over trade, first the Benin killed most of the 200 Brits in the country, then the Brits came back with 1200 soldiers to avenge them). They were another of those can't-possibly-be-African artifacts that European colonials found - you'd think they'd've started to realise a bit sooner that the Africans must be more sophisticated than they gave them credit for ;) The programme then traced the symbolism from those plaques to that of the animist beliefs of people in the Mali kingdom before they were converted to Islam & he went to visit a group of villages where they stick to the old beliefs and traditions. Including having metal working be a high-status occupation & making wooden plaques to commemorate & teach about past events that looked very like the bronze ones in concept.
Overall an interesting series - and I certainly learnt a whole lot about Africa that I never knew before. But in other ways it felt a bit shallow, I think I'd've preferred more history/archaeology & less looking at the modern peoples with an eye to "could they be descendants ...". Personal preference tho, and I suspect just a mis-match between what I expected & what the programme really was.
Next we watched the first episode of Seven Ages of Britain, to see if we wanted to keep recording it or not. We've decided on yes :) The premise is David Dimbleby does the history of Britain - can't tell yet if that's Britain for real or if it's mostly England, tho I suspect the latter. Mind you, that's where my interest lies, so I don't care so much. This first episode covered the time from the Roman conquest to the Norman conquest - a thousand years in an hour, so it was a fairly brisk trot through it. He was telling the story by looking at the art & artifacts from the period - so we were shown things like the Bayeux Tapestry, the Alfred jewel, a bible made in Northumberland that was sent to Rome as a gift to the Pope (it only got as far as Florence tho), a statue of Britannia ground beneath the heel of Rome (in Turkey) and loads more. Lots of locations both in Britain & abroad (a fair amount of David Dimbleby speaking foreign languages too). Not sure I'll learn anything from the series, but it looks like it will be fun to watch & will show us a lot of interesting & beautiful things. And the next episode looks like there'll be implements of pointy death, which is always a good thing ;)