Monday, January 23, 2017

Our forebears were peaceful and pious - as are we

The presenter is beautifully turned out. She started her career on a well-regarded archaeology show but has blossomed into every public broadcaster's dream of a popular science presenter. She's attractive, well-informed and of impeccable views.

As befits a photogenic media star, she is also a professor at one of our better universities.

The archaeologist she is interviewing is old-school. His teeth aren't right, his clothes an afterthought and his accent atrocious.

"This hill fort," she says pointing to it, "There's the ditch and wall surrounding it, and this curious set of angled avenues making the entrance diagonal, with sharp turns before you can ..."

"Yes," replies the archaeologist, "An attacking force can't directly ..."

She talks over him.

"Many scientists believe it's to allow the children to get a good view of visitors bringing interesting and exciting goods to trade."

The camera now turns to a mass grave, excavated outside the walls. Skeletons had been dumped in disarray with missing limbs and cut marks to the bones, particularly the skulls.

"This grave shows how fascinating were the burial practices of our neolithic ancestors, ..."

"It's consistent with a band of attackers being repulsed with heavy casualties and their ..."

"On the other hand, many scientists think what we're seeing here are the results of a sky burial, where the bodies of the revered dead were offered to wildlife and then the bones carefully decorated and buried. There's been a great deal of time for ground-disturbance of course."

His face set, the archaeologist turns his attention to the table, where bronze swords have been laid out. But he's too slow.

"These swords, quite corroded now, show the beautiful craftsmanship of grave goods or perhaps marks of status for the most elite leaders. You can see how much effort has gone into them as prestigious works of art ..."

At this point, the set is invaded by a young man draped in a black flag and toting a Kalashnikov. He shouts religious slogans and brings his weapon to bear.

The presenter is unfazed.

"What a beautifully-designed artefact he's carrying. Clearly it's of great religious signif ..."

The tape ends there.

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