The BBC is producing a series of 100 “podcasts” which explores the history of the world through the lens of 100 different objects. Each episode is about 15 minutes long, and while you can subscribe to the series for your iPod or on iTunes, you can also listen to each episode individually on the web: thirty of the planned one hundred episodes are now available.
One interesting episode focuses on the Clovis Point. They mainly give weight to a Clovis First model of the first peopling of the Americas (including a bizarre quote from Gary Haynes to the effect that yes, there is older material than Clovis but nonetheless Clovis is first), but they do also offer an indigenous perspective which is unusual.
From the transcript:
Historian Gabrielle Tayac is a Piscataway Indian. She works for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian, and she studies how Native Americans are reacting to this new narrative that science is giving them:
‘This is an affront to their very specific beliefs … If you look at creation stories, there are certainly people who have very strong beliefs that either they emerged from the earth, or fell from the sky or developed out of the back of a water beetle, depending on where they were … Native American religions were repressed for a very long time and so people have become very protective. For some Native people, though not all, the insertion of scientific findings that Native people did not get created from the very site that they emerged from, or that there are findings that might be counter to a specific oral recitation, can be seen as a way of invalidating Native traditions.’
I suspect this series of mini-documentaries will be quite entertaining and a good way to have 15 minutes of culture each day while riding the bus. Most of the objects so far are archaeological, including the rather stunning Jomon pot from Japan, below – one of the few examples of hunting-gathering cultures who made extensive use of ceramics. Eventually it looks like they get to lego and other such serious matters.