Segments in this Video

First Man (04:40)


Earth has water and an atmosphere—unique conditions for life. Humans evolved in East Africa; we all share a genetic ancestor. Traits supporting a hunter-gatherer lifestyle included stereoscopic vision, dexterity, speed, and the ability to make tools and project power.

Controlling Fire and Migration (03:15)

Cooking food improved nutritional uptake, shrinking the stomach and expanding brain volume. Fire also protected humans from other predators. Humans were an endangered species until around 70,000 years ago, when pioneers ventured out of Africa.

Ice Age Adaptations (03:51)

A shift in Earth's axis cooled the planet and glaciers advanced across Northern Asia and Europe. Facing wolves and extreme cold, humans sheltered in caves and developed needles to sew clothing. Cave paintings demonstrate a sense of identity and creativity.

Domesticating Dogs (02:40)

During the Ice Age, wolves aiming to exploit a new food source became companions and formed hunting alliances with humans. As the planet warmed 400 generations ago, people began farming.

Our Farming Mother (02:38)

As the planet warmed 10,000 years ago, humans settled around grassy meadows. A woman discovered discarded seeds growing, and experimented with planting grain. Farmed land fed 100 more people than hunting and gathering; wheat became widespread.

Village Life (04:04)

Farming reached Southern England by 3,000 B.C. Livestock enabled population growth, but introduced infectious diseases. Hard work and a restricted diet made us less healthy. Crop failure drove early farmers to raid other settlements, leading to warfare.

Organized Religion (01:45)

Farming led to new mourning methods. Belief in the afterlife inspired monuments like Stonehenge.

Great Pyramid (05:08)

Pharaoh Khufu had 35,000 workers build a monumental tomb without iron tools or wheels. Architect Hemiunu used writing to organize materials and laborers; learn about construction methods and occupational hazards. It took twenty years and two million stone blocks to build.

Kanash Trade (03:44)

Cities grew across the Middle East so that farmers and craftsmen could live together. In present day Turkey, a bronze industry developed; entrepreneurs risked bandits to transport tin from Iran and Afghanistan. Writing developed to keep business records.

Early Entrepreneurs (02:06)

Merchants risked bandit attack while transporting tin through the Middle East. Trade became a specialization that spread civilization across the world.

Battle of Megiddo (04:00)

In 1457 B.C., war lords seized a strategic trading city. Pharaoh Tuthmose III commanded 12,000 soldiers in the first recorded battle that ushered in mass warfare. Chariot archers defeated the enemy.

Megiddo Outcome (03:37)

Thutmose III led his men into battle over resources, defeating a coalition of war lords and expanding his empire. Hear an Egyptian poet's description of the conscripted soldier.

Controlling Mankind's Destiny (01:25)

Humans harnessed fire, began farming, built cities, forged trade routes, and developed warfare. Pharaoh Thutmose III now ruled millions of people as a divine king. (Credits)

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Part of the Series : Mankind: The Story of All of Us
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



The unique human species evolved on a unique planet. This documentary explores innovations and adaptations that brought us from the brink of extinction to control our destiny. Fire and clothing enabled us to survive the Ice Age, during which we domesticated the wolf. Farming led to settlements, but crop failures brought warfare and livestock bred infectious disease. Organized religion inspired monuments like Pharaoh Khufu’s Great Pyramid, engineered with the help of written communication. As cities grew, trade developed and entrepreneurs risked their lives transporting tin for bronze production. The Battle of Megiddo—fought to control trade—ushered in mass warfare and extended the Egyptian empire.

Length: 45 minutes

Item#: BVL130800

Copyright date: ©2012

Closed Captioned

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