Vegging out to ancient history documentaries


A recent fascination with Enya led me to this documentary about the ancient Celts. I like watching episodes when I’m too tired to do anything else but I still don’t want to sleep.

I’ve recently realized that this is a thing for me. It’s not just the Celts. I go through phases where I watch documentaries about ancient civilizations. Last time it was the Hittites.
One thing I find interesting about my tendency to do this is that it is tied to my sensibilities on “being a productive person”. I often think about how I’m going to die at some point so my time is limited. When I feel exhausted, this sense of urgency is unpleasant. Documentaries about ancient history alleviate the panic. The reason for this is that for every piece of jewelry the camera slowly rotates around and every digital re-creation of a fortress, I think about how there were all these common folk alive who were just working and living and they all probably made small chat and had little moments of interesting observations that they may have confided to someone else who has also died a long time ago and who probably is so long gone that the impact they have on today is more like an effect of nature than that of an individual ego. I find that so comforting. I just realized what I’m getting out of watching these.


Really fascinating perspective. Sometimes realizing our cosmic insignificance can be anxiety-inducing, but your explanation is pretty swell. We’re all just doing our thing, getting by. That’s perfectly ok.


The BBC has some great series on this sort of thing. They had about four or five about Ancient South American cultures presented by Jago Cooper which were all intriguing. I totally agree with your view, and would add that a big thing for me is that these societies, by necessity, had to live within nature and so had a much more nuanced connection to it.

Modern society (to me) is defined by abstraction from/control of nature and showing how independent we are of it, which in the grand scheme of things is likely to turn out to be not very.

I might be biased though as I spent most of my childhood summer holidays on remote(-ish) islands in the North Sea whilst my dad did research about neolithic cultures