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Aired January 19, 2010 on BBC Two
Professor Iain Stewart tells the epic story of how geology, geography and climate have influenced mankind. Using spectacular images, illuminating science content and compelling narration, the series discovers how four different planetary forces have shaped human history.(Thanks to AnonyKai)
Programme one explores the relationship between man and the deep Earth. Since the dawn of civilisation a network of active fault lines have provided key resources for civilisations to flourish. Professor Stewart explores iconic locations, including the barren deserts of Iran, ancient tin mines in Britain, the Timna Valley in Israel and the Naica Crystal Cave in Mexico, to discover how planet Earth has changed the path of human civilisation.
Professor Stewart starts his journey in the deserts of Southern Israel. Over 7,000 years ago, the Timna Valley was the site of one of the world's first great scientific discoveries, when man first realised that by smelting rocks he could release metals trapped inside. It was a defining moment in human history.
Continuing his journey to the barren deserts of Iran and with a 50-metre plunge down a tiny shaft, Iain discovers one of the main reasons why so many societies chose to live along fault lines ñ the presence of water. Early civilisations learnt to access this water through tunnels, turning arid deserts into lush oases. This critical supply of water combined with access to metals persuaded 11 of the 13 most powerful civilisations of the ancient world to unwittingly build their cities along the edges of a plate boundary.
Today, man understands the downside of living along fault lines, as these areas are prone to powerful earthquakes and frequent volcanic activity. Yet, incredibly, half of the largest cities on Earth still lie along these boundaries. Ian explores why man still lives in these danger zones. Taking to the skies in California to see the San Andreas Fault ñ the largest earthquake fault in the United States ñ he discovers how the fault continues to bring long-term economic benefits to the 24 million people who live in the state.