First Peoples: Asia, and Australia

First Peoples continues tonight on PBS, with two episodes that focus on the dispersal of modern humans into Asia and Australia.

The Asia episode includes archaeological work at Tam Pa Ling, Laos, and goes to the Arabian peninsula with Jeff Rose to track the earliest archaeological evidence of African contacts there. The episode introduces the mysterious Denisovans and talks about the importance of this population mixture to present-day populations.

The Australia episode begins with the Lake Mungo skeletal remains, which similar to the Kennewick skeleton in the U.S. were the subject of conflict between government and indigenous groups. The film visits several sites of heritage significance in Australia, guided by the aboriginal caretakers. And the narrative focuses on the long habitation of the Australian continent through periods of climate change, and the cultural innovations that made it possible to maintain populations within the harsh conditions of the Australian interior.

If you’re following these in the United States but unable to see the live broadcast on PBS, full episodes are available for streaming online for several weeks after the broadcast. This doesn’t work outside the U.S. (PBS has only acquired U.S. broadcast rights) but I do think that it will appear in some other countries in the future.