This month, PBS in the United States will be premiering a new five-part series on the origins and spread of modern humans around the world, called First Peoples. The first two episodes, featuring the spread of people into the Americas and the initial origin of modern humans in Africa, will be shown on most PBS stations on the evening of Wednesday, June 24. Later episodes cover the entry of modern humans into Asia and Europe, where they mixed with Neandertals and Denisovans, and the appearance of ancient peoples in Australia.
I’m very proud to appear in all five episodes, where I help to provide a common thread discussing the success of modern humans and the importance of population mixture in our origins. I’m also very pleased with the overall balance of the series. Each episode covers new archaeological discoveries, often from sites that have only been known for a few years, and in several cases discussing unpublished work. Going into the field to cover these archaeological sites adds a real beauty to the series. Meanwhile in each episode new genetic findings come into the story, especially those from ancient DNA that have added so much to our understanding of the interaction of ancient people.
PBS has set up a great website for the series, with background information and clips. Here’s a link to a clip where I describe the importance of population connections across Africa during the early MSA: “The Secret to Our Success - Connectivity”.
I’ll be following up with more information about each of the episodes as the air date approaches.