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Africa's Great Civilizations

Africa's Great Civilizations

  • Premiered: 
    February 27, 2017
    (Click date to see TV listings for that day)

  • Network: PBS
  • Category: Series
  • Genre: Documentary
  • Type: Live Action
  • Concept: 
  • Subject Matter: Historical
  • Tags:

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Plot Synopsis

Hosted, executive produced and written by Emmy Award-winning Harvard scholar Henry Louis Gates Jr., AFRICA'S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS is a three-night, six-part documentary series that chronicles 200,000 years of Africa's untold history. Through anthropological and scientific discoveries, viewers learn that Africa is the genetic home of all currently living humanity. Only between 80,000 and 50,000 years ago, did some of humanity's common ancestors leave the continent to spread across the rest of the world. These great African migrations culminated in the diverse global peoples and societies that viewers know today. Beginning with this great revelation, Gates then traces the roots of agriculture, writing, artistic expression, and iron working to their birthplaces on the continent. In the new documentary, Professor Gates presents -- for the first time for a popular audience -- a new vision not only of Africa's pivotal place in world history, but also the world's relation to Africa. Africa is the ancestral home to the human community and to many of the pivotal breakthroughs in the history of civilization, yet the continent continues to be stereotyped as an isolated and underdeveloped region in the mind of outsiders, devoid of any profound historical achievements. AFRICA'S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS dispels these myths and other inaccuracies about Africa through a detailed and riveting examination of significant historical events, such as the rise of its powerful kingdoms, the growth of extensive trade networks with the Middle East, Europe and China, seminal technological and artistic discoveries, and its peoples' resilience in the face of harrowing past traumas.
On Wednesday, March 1, 2017 from 9-11pm (check local listings), PBS premiered the season finale of AFRICA'S GREAT CIVILIZATIONS showing back-to-back new episodes. In the penultimate episode (9pm), "Empires of Gold," Gates uncovers the complex trade networks and advanced educational institutions that transformed early north and west Africa from deserted lands into the continent's wealthiest kingdoms and learning epicentres. Then, in the finale (10pm), "Cities," Gates explores the power of Africa's greatest ancient cities, including Kilwa, Great Zimbabwe and Benin City, whose wealth, art and industrious successes attracted new European interest and interaction along the continent's east and west coasts.

Production & Distribution

  • Produced by Inkwell Films
  • Produced by McGee Media
  • Produced by Kunhardt Films
  • Produced by WETA