Around the World in 80 Treasures episode 8 – Mali to Egypt: Dan Cruickshank’s journey around the world reaches new heights of discomfort in the heat and dust of the desert. He takes in the astonishing cave paintings of the Dogon tribe before embarking on a love affair in Egypt with the most beautiful woman in history for whom he must brave two giant jackals.
In between, he witnesses the grotesque masks of Mali that connect the world of the living with the world of the dead, survives a power cut in the middle of the deepest, darkest chamber of the dead in the Great Pyramid outside Cairo, lives a day in the life of a Roman trader in Leptis Magna and identifies with Lawrence of Arabia in the desert of Libya.
One amazing surprise is the biggest mud building in the world, which cools down in the African sun by means of an installation of 104 saucepan lids on its roof – possibly the simplest ventilation system in the world but also the most ingenious. Finally, as he floats into the sunset down the Nile, he contemplates how it will feel to re-enter Europe after four months away.
Around the World in 80 Treasures episode 8 – Mali to Egypt
The Dogon (or Kaador, Kaado) are an ethnic group indigenous to the central plateau region of Mali, in West Africa, south of the Niger bend, near the city of Bandiagara, and in Burkina Faso. The population numbers between 400,000 and 800,000. They speak the Dogon languages, which are considered to constitute an independent branch of the Niger–Congo language family, meaning that they are not closely related to any other languages.
The Dogon are best known for their religious traditions, their mask dances, wooden sculpture, and their architecture. Since the twentieth century, there have been significant changes in the social organisation, material culture and beliefs of the Dogon, in part because Dogon country is one of Mali’s major tourist attractions.
Leptis Magna – Around the World in 80 Treasures
Leptis or Lepcis Magna, also known by other names in antiquity, was a prominent city of the Carthaginian Empire and Roman Libya at the mouth of the Wadi Lebda in the Mediterranean.
Originally a 7th-century BC Phoenician foundation, it was greatly expanded under Roman Emperor Septimius Severus (r. 193–211), who was born in the city. The 3rd Augustan Legion was stationed here to defend the city against Berber incursions. After the legion’s dissolution under Gordian III in 238, the city was increasingly open to raids in the later part of the 3rd century. Diocletian reinstated the city as provincial capital, and it grew again in prosperity until it fell to the Vandals in 439. It was reincorporated into the Eastern Empire in 533 but continued to be plagued by Berber raids and never recovered its former importance. It fell to the Muslim invasion in c. 647 and was subsequently abandoned.
Its ruins are within present-day Khoms, Libya, 130 km (81 mi) east of Tripoli. They are among the best-preserved Roman sites in the Mediterranean.
Lawrence of Arabia – Around the World in 80 Treasures
Colonel Thomas Edward Lawrence CB DSO (16 August 1888 – 19 May 1935) was a British archaeologist, army officer, diplomat, and writer who became renowned for his role in the Arab Revolt (1916–1918) and the Sinai and Palestine Campaign (1915–1918) against the Ottoman Empire during the First World War. The breadth and variety of his activities and associations, and his ability to describe them vividly in writing, earned him international fame as Lawrence of Arabia, a title used for the 1962 film based on his wartime activities.
He was born out of wedlock in August 1888 to Sarah Junner (1861–1959), a governess, and Sir Thomas Chapman, 7th Baronet (1846–1919), an Anglo-Irish nobleman. Chapman left his wife and family in Ireland to cohabit with Junner. Chapman and Junner called themselves Mr and Mrs Lawrence, using the surname of Sarah’s likely father; her mother had been employed as a servant for a Lawrence family when she became pregnant with Sarah. In 1896 the Lawrences moved to Oxford, where Thomas attended the High School and then studied history at Jesus College, Oxford from 1907 to 1910. Between 1910 and 1914 he worked as an archaeologist for the British Museum, chiefly at Carchemish in Ottoman Syria.