History: ‘Turkmenistan – Cultural Treasures’

To outsiders, Turkmenistan is one of the world’s least known countries. For the first time in ten years, a film crew has been free to visit spectacular excavation sites and follow international researchers into areas that have long been off-limits. Once considered the poorest part of the Soviet Union, oil and natural gas have brought new wealth to Turkmenistan today.

A little known fact in the West is that 4,000 years ago, the country was home to one of the ancient world’s centers of power. Although it flourished around the same time as the advanced civilizations of Mesopotamia and Egypt, the Margiana empire was later largely forgotten. But recently, archaeologists have discovered palace buildings and magnificent burial treasures at the site of the capital, Gonur Depe, in the Karakum Desert. Incredible aerial photography shows the dimensions of the lost metropolis. An international team of researchers also unearthed monumental fortifications in neighboring Ulug Depe.

The ruined cities of Merv and Kunya-Urgench have been declared UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Suddenly, historians and the media are paying much more attention to Central Asia. Why has Turkmenistan seen powerful empires rise and fall since the Bronze Age? DNA analysis shows a highly mobile population, whose contacts reached as far as India, the Urals and the Mediterranean Sea. The Silk Road between China and Europe was the world’s most important trade route for thousands of years, lending Turkmenistan great historical significance. Since the fall of the Soviet Union, the country has been slowly opening up to international researchers, and its astounding cultural heritage is coming to light.

Views: Henry Mountains – Southeast Utah (Video)

The Henry Mountains is a mountain range located in the southeastern portion of the U.S. state of Utah and run in a generally north–south direction, extending over a distance of about 30 miles. They were named by Almon Thompson in honor of Joseph Henry, the first secretary of the Smithsonian Institution.

Artistry: ‘The Lore Of Fabergé Eggs’ (Video)

In the era of the Russian tsars, Peter Carl Fabergé’s jewel-studded objets d’art were a royal riff on a much humbler Easter tradition of ordinary folk giving each other colored hens’ eggs. Correspondent Elizabeth Palmer reports on the lore of Fabergé eggs, from opulent originals to sparkling counterfeits.

The celebrated series of 50 Imperial Easter eggs was created for the Russian Imperial family from 1885 to 1916 when the company was run by Peter Carl Fabergé. These creations are inextricably linked to the glory and tragic fate of the last Romanov family. They were the ultimate achievement of the renowned Russian jewellery house and must also be considered the last great commissions of objets d’art . Ten eggs were produced from 1885 to 1893, during the reign of Emperor Alexander III; 40 more were created during the rule of his dutiful son, Nicholas II, two each year, one for his mother, the dowager, the second for his wife.

Views: Lives Of The Super-Rich In Congo, Africa

Many millionaires live in the Democratic Republic of Congo, one of the world’s poorest countries. This film depicts some of those who have made fortunes amid the chaos, including musicians, mining bosses, entrepreneurs and preachers. The DRC is rich in raw materials, but only a few profit from its natural resources.

While 60% of Congo’s inhabitants live on less than $1.25 per day, businessmen, artists, former rebel leaders and evangelists are reaping the rewards of economic growth. In the capital, Kinshasa, these new rich live in safe and luxurious enclaves, while children toil in coltan mines in the eastern part of the country. Fally Ipupa has made his money with music.

Others rely on their business acumen, like Patricia Nzolantima, who founded a taxi company and aims to give more opportunities to women. With 3,000 mine workers, Cooperamma is the largest employer in North Kivu, in the east of the DRC. Managing director Robert Seninga says his coltan mines are extremely well-run, yet safety standards are poor. Coltan, a globally coveted mineral, is used in cell phones and other devices. It’s both a blessing and a curse for the Congo. It makes some rich, but for others it means death. The region still suffers from ethnic and factional conflicts, with money from illegal coltan smuggling financing new violence. It’s a vicious cycle.

Aerial Views: ‘Balneário Camboriú – Brazil’ (4K)

Balneário Camboriú is a resort city in the southern Brazilian state of Santa Catarina. It’s known for its high-rise buildings and beaches like Praia Central. Bars, restaurants and shops line Avenida Atlântica, a busy boulevard next to the beach. Unipraias Park sits at the mouth of the Rio Camboriú, offering city views from zip lines and cable cars. The Cristo Luz Monument, a huge statue of Christ, overlooks the city.