National Geographic : 1992 Aug
On Television The Men Behind the Monuments Amud-brick grave on the Giza plateau outside Cairo yielded its secret-the 4,500-year old skeleton of a construction worker (right)-piece by piece. At the time, National Geographic pro ducer Steve Burns was preoccupied with his camera, balancing the harsh Egyptian sunlight with the blackness of the grave. But as diggers tilted the skull, and tears of sand poured from its eyes, Burns forgot about the technicalities. "I suddenly felt connected with this individual from the distant past," he says. His film, "Who Built the Pyra mids?" featured on EXPLORER's 1992-93 season premiere, investi gates what may be the largest con struction site of the ancient world. Here on the banks of the Nile an estimated 30,000 people labored to raise the mightiest of all monu ments, the Great Pyramids. These tombs of kings have fasci nated generations, but now the discovery of a vast workers ceme tery on the site "tells us about the lives of common men," says Zahi Hawass, director general of the Pyr amids for the Egyptian Antiquities Organization. More than 250 graves and 14 tombs have been uncovered so far. The obvious care that went into them suggests that the Pyramid builders were not slaves but free men, perhaps conscripted farmers. About 300 yards from the ceme tery Mark Lehner of the University of Chicago unearthed a huge bak ery, where every day bread for thousands of people was baked in bell-shaped clay pots. "Bringing together this large group of people," Lehner says, "marked a distinct threshold in our worldwide heri tage-the rise of urbanism. This was the equivalent of downtown Cairo." Who Built the Pyramids? EXPLORER Season Premiere, Aug. 30, TBS Super Station, 9p.m. ET. Educational Films: 20 Years in the Classroom Back in 1972 the National Geo graphic Society launched its Educational Films Division, headed by Sidney Platt. Since then the division, with a staff of nine, has set the standard for classroom films, winning virtually every major award in the industry. "All aspects of our work-the ideas, the scripts, the editing-are designed to aid learning," says Platt, who still charts the course. Ed Films produces 15 to 20 new films each year-more than 300 titles so far-to let viewers explore the farthest reaches of the globe (left) and the microscopic world within a cell. The films reach their audience by combining the enter tainment of TV or the movies with the information of a textbook. "We challenge students by using technology that we know will hold their attention," says associate director Donald Cooper. "After all, many of our staff have kids who watch these films in school." NATIONALGEOGRAPHICEXPLORERAIRS ON TBS SUPERSTATION,SUNDAYSAT9 P.M. ET . NATIONALGEOGRAPHICSPECIALSAIR ON PBS; CHECKLOCALLISTINGS.