Legacy: The Origins of Civilization



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Episode Guide


  • Season 1
    • 9/24/91
      Now adopted nearly all over the globe, the modern Western ideas of individualism, property, and purposeful history trace their roots to Christianity, Greco-Roman humanism, and Germanic social values.
    • Independent of great civilizations elsewhere, the Maya and Aztecs developed a fatalistic culture, envisioning a cosmos that required bloody sacrifice for renewal. It placed the sovereignty of nature above all else--even human life.
    • In the world's first great nation, the annual flooding of the Nile conferred not only fertility, but also a deep respect for social and cosmic stability, a belief in the resurrection of the dead, and the hope of eternal life.
    • 8/27/91
      With great thinkers such as Confucius and Laozi, the Chinese conceived of civilization as reflecting cosmic harmony, sustained by civic and social virtue, ancient ritual, and reverence for ancestors.
    • 8/20/91
      Beginning 5,000 years ago, the "Land of the Seven Rivers" cultivated a tradition of nonviolence, renunciation of the material world, and a focus on humans' inner life. Today, these survive in tension with the vestiges of Western colonialism.
    • 8/13/91
      In places like Uruk and Eridu in what is now Iraq, humans founded the first cities nearly 6,000 years ago. They left us literature, astronomy, and mathematics, as well as lessons in overpopulation and environmental stewardship.