The Dark Continent of Africa,
with its diverse communities
cultures and little-known history, is
absolutely fascinating; especially in
very capable hands of art historian
Dr Gus Casely-Hayford for the amazing
BBC series Lost Kingdoms Of Africa,
now available for the first time on DVD...
DISCOVERING MYSTERIOUS, LOST CIVILISATIONS from ancient times is enthralling
stuff; and Presenter Dr Gus Casely-Hayford takes us tantalisingly into the realms
of forgotten peoples in the African continent in the BBC series Lost Kingdoms
Nearly a billion people live in Africa in diverse cultures and communities.
We know less of Africa's history than anywhere else in the world but now art
historian Gus reaches back in time to discover realms that rival Egypt; buildings
that are as inspiring as any Mediaeval cathedral and art that speaks across
This informative and entertaining four-part series begins with Nubia, where
Gus begins his journey deep in the desert North of Khartoum, once a rich and
lush land but now miles of sand and temperatures in excess of 120 degrees Fahrenheit.
Here there is evidence of a Nubian culture from over 7,000 years ago, including
a rock gong and rock art that is thousands of years old. From the desert, Gus
flies 700 miles to Kerma, which the Egyptians knew as Kush, where is to be found
the oldest known mud-brick building in Africa.
The purpose of this building is unknown, but it could well have been a temple.
The Nubians were used as slaves and for entertainment for the Egyptians and
also ended up becoming Pharaohs themselves. How did this happen?
From Kerma Gus travels to Jebel Barkal and Meroe, examining the remains of a
sophisticated civilisation and looking for evidence that this long-lost kingdom
may have fallen victim to climate change.
Ethiopia saw its last emperor, Haile Selassie, deposed in 1974 and it is now
a democratic republic. The emperors claimed descent from the Biblical King Solomon
and the Queen of Sheba and it is believed that the Ark of the Covenant is hidden
in a chapel. Gus examines Judeo-Christian influences in Ethiopia's art, language,
and architecture that date back centuries.
During his stay in Ethiopia, Gus looks at the 13th Century Kebra Nagast (The
Glory Of Kings), which sets out the lineage of the Ethiopian emperors, and visits
Debre Damo, a monastery established in the 6th century that can only be reached
by using a rope to climb the steep sides of a mountain.
He also visits a castle built by Emperor Fasiladas, the rock churches in Lalibela
and a temple in Yeha that is the oldest surviving building in Ethiopia, pre-dating
The Parthenon in Athens.
On to Great Zimbabwe, where mysterious ruins rise from an unlikely spot in the
African interior. From the eastern coast, Gus traces an ancient gold trading
route inland to explore the city that served as its source.
And in West Africa, Gus searches for the origins of those magnificent Benin
bronzes in the British Museum. He finds that the art of fine metalworking has
thrived over the generations in modern-day Nigeria and Mali and adds to his
hands-on experiences in this fascinating continent.
Gus Casely-Hayford holds a PhD in African history from London University's School
of Oriental and African Studies. He has lectured at the Royal College of Art,
the University of Westminster and is associated with a variety of cultural committees,
including The Tate Britain Council.
In the capable hands of presenter Gus Casely-Hayford, Lost Kingdoms Of Africa
is captivating and informative; a wonderful insight to an intriguing continent.
This extraordinary series casts new light on a long-neglected area of the world's
First aired on BBC Four and then broadcast
on BBC Two, Lost Kingdoms Of Africa became the highest rated factual
show ever and is released on DVD, courtesy of Acorn Media, on 6 February, 2012.
Catalogue Number: AV9870 | Running Time: 217 Minutes Approx | RRP: £19.99.
Special features: A stunning series of picture galleries shot on location.
"In the capable hands of presenter Gus Casely-Hayford, Lost Kingdoms Of Africa
is captivating and informative; a wonderful insight to an intriguing continent"
Maggie Woods, MotorBar