Deep Time History is available now in ultra HD 4K, HD and standard definition on CuriosityStream. The exclusive, original 3-part documentary series offers captivating insight into the links between astronomy, deep time geologic events and human civilization. The host of the series is Dr. Jonathan Markley, a renown Big History expert, and a professor of history at California State University, Fullerton. We sat down with Dr. Markley and he shared his thoughts on the series.
I’m really excited about the new Deep Time History project on CuriosityStream. It’s a series that zooms out to take a bigger view of history as we know it. It’s an approach that people like myself have been promoting for years in the Big History movement. It’s a way of viewing history that really grabs you, and it has been growing steadily over the last decade. I’ve just left the International Big History Association conference in Amsterdam where I heard about some really exciting developments. And, I was able to share the news of the release of CuriosityStream’s exclusive, new series.
I’ll give you just one example from episode 2 – Deep Time History: The Age of Discovery. Take pepper… It seems like something really ordinary, but what is it? Where did it come from? I know I was pretty amazed the first time I realized that pepper has a single source in southern India and just a few hundred years ago, that was still the only place you could get it. It was a big deal in helping build our globalized world, and it played a major role in the age of discovery, as ancient cultures struggled to find a way to get such far off exotic spices as, you guessed it, common ordinary black pepper! And the reason behind it all started as far back as the formation of the moon.
Later on in episode 2, watch for the scene with the modern meal and the salt and pepper packets, bringing this incredible story to life today. By the way, that was the very last scene we filmed. When it was done I couldn’t believe it was all over.
One of the most fun location shoots we did was at the steam engine museum in Oceanside, California. The directors were filming all sorts of historical recreations that day so I got to meet Thomas Newcomen, the man who first invented the steam pump, and a young Henry Ford (ok, I got to meet the actors portraying these giants in history!) They had an incredible working steam tractor that was straight out of the history books.
I also got to climb into the middle of one of the steam engines. It was kind of scary, but how often are you allowed to get that close to working exhibits at a museum?
I’ve done a bit of on camera television work before but never as a host and narrator, so I learned something new every step of the way. The director, Doug Cohen, would give me great suggestions to do a scene in a certain way, and after seeing the finished product I had to tell him, “Now I know what you meant!” I never realized just how many people are needed to put a massive effort like this together. There were usually at least ten other people involved when we filmed on location. I can’t even begin to describe how much I learned from everyone involved in this important documentary production — cameras, sound, wardrobe advisor, producer, writer, lighting, make up, etc., etc., etc.
I hope you’ll watch each episode, be inspired by your own sense of curiosity, and come to a greater understanding of how the history of the cosmos, Earth, life and humanity all come together in Deep Time History.
Watch the trailer below and watch all three full episodes here: