DVD Review: Journey to 10,000 BC

Like a number of others I received a copy of Journey to 10,000 BC to review. Since I missed it on its original run on the History Channel, I was actually looking forward to seeing it.

Journey.jpg I found it to be a mixed bag with the positives somewhat outweighing the negatives. First the negatives, as others have pointed out, the animation was less than credible – the scene of the mammoths walking along with an awkward gate and wiggling their heads in unison was particularly bad, especially so because they repeated it a number of times. I also despise blue screen.
Journey to 10,000 BC begins with a broad overview of the peopling of the Americas and ends with the end of the Clovis period. Both the Beringia route and the alleged ties to the Solutreans are discussed (notably absent is the Kelp Highway Hypothesis). The first part of the DVD seeks to flesh out the Paleo-Indian way of life and focuses exclusively on big game hunting (plant foods get slighted). There is a brief discussion of the atlatl, but very little in the way of other technology gets mentioned. Some of the dangers of the Paleo-Indian way of life get somewhat over exaggerated recognition (trampling by mammoths, sabertooths, etc).
A large part of the DVD focuses on the climatic changes at the end of the Clovis period, particularly the Younger Dryas. The idea of Firestone and West that there was some sort of asteroid explosion centered over part of Canada that caused the climatic changes also gets discussed in detail. (Note: there is some recent research bearing on the subject).
In terms of information content, I have to say the producers did a pretty good job of summarizing some of the current thinking around a few of the important issues relating to the peopling of the Americas (and after). One of the best parts of the DVD is when they go out in the field and Darren Lowry demonstrates the end of the Clovis layer and what comes after. Rather than just having an archaeologist tell you about it, they showed it. These types of shows need more of this, rather than brief soundbites or the talking head lecture. I would have also liked to see some kind of “For further information” bit at the end that directs interested viewers to more resources on the subjects the show was talking about. Overall, then, I would say that it was better than some shows of like nature, but worse than others (have I mentioned that I really despise bluescreen?).

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