01 June, 2005
This is easily the best of the films. When reading about history, or archaeology, an area that is often neglected – in fact, almost always neglected – is that of sub-Saharan Africa. Case in point, I cite myself: I have been interested in archaeology for most of my life, and yet I had never ever heard of Great Zimbabwe before this film.
Although I usually donft care much for pre-literate civilizations, this one grabbed my attention, even more than the Chaco Canyon people. The film was absolutely fascinating – I loved the controversy around the ruins of Great Zimbabwe. The way that Rhodesian and other white scholars tried so hard to offer eprooff that the ruins were built by some ancient white people – the Queen of Sheba, even! – was almost comical, but in a dark, sinister way.
The Swahili coast I had had some vague notion of previously, but the really interesting part was the detailing of the excavation of old proto-mosques. I loved the sheer integration of culture – the Islamic flavour mixed with the African, to make something new and different, and still the same.
The fact that African history has been suppressed and altered, and completely screwed over (to use the vernacular) by the rest of the world for so very long is sad. But itfs heartening to see that now, finally, there is some proper archaeo-historical research done on the great civilizations of Africafs past.