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Conquistadors with Michael Wood Previous Broadcasts

The Search for El Dorado/All The World Is Human (Episode #103W)

KQED World: Fri, Jun 12, 2009 -- 8:00 AM

"The Search for El Dorado" - From Peru, Wood moves to Ecuador, where a member of the Pizarro clan, Gonzalo, led an expedition in 1541 to find El Dorado, a ruler reputed to possess unsurpassed riches in gold. Crossing the Andes, Wood and his crew hack through the dense forests to the Coca River. Once there, they build a balsa raft to carry them to the site where the Spanish expedition split up. On Christmas day of 1541, Francisco de Orellana, a veteran of the battles with the Incas in Peru, set out with 57 men on one of the great voyages of exploration. Orellana and his men discovered and traveled the length of the Amazon River, encountering an elaborate network of kingdoms and unknown empires - with a population perhaps as high as five million - that were eventually wiped out by war and disease.

"All the World Is Human" - Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca arrived in Florida in 1528 to begin the exploration and conquest of what is now the southern United States. His experience living among the Indians was to spark the debate over the morality of the conquistadors' deeds. Wood tracks their progress northward toward Tallahassee, where, fleeing hostile Indians, the conquistadors built boats in the hope of reaching Mexico. Shipwrecked off the coast of Texas, most were never seen again. For five years, Cabeza de Vaca lived among the Karankwa and then the Coahuiltean Indians until he rejoined three fellow conquistadors. Together they embarked on an epic walk across America to the Pacific coast, reappearing eight years after they were lost. Their route remains a subject of controversy. Using Cabeza de Vaca's own book, Wood rides through the north Mexican desert, sleeping at prehistoric campsites. Traveling to the Pacific along ancient Indian trails, he visits the spectacular Native-American city of Casas Grandes, passing through some of the most beautiful landscapes in America.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Jun 12, 2009 -- 11:00 AM

The Fall of the Aztecs/The Conquest of the Incas (Episode #101W)

KQED World: Fri, Jun 5, 2009 -- 8:00 AM

"Fall of the Aztecs" - Wood lands on a small island off the coast of Mexico, where in 1519, Hernan Cortes led a band of some 500 soldiers onto the mainland and into the heart of the Aztec empire. On the shores of the Yucatan, Cortes first saw the Mayan pyramids. Wood continues west to the frontier between the Mayan and Aztec worlds. The Aztecs greeted Cortes with gifts of gold, an act that sealed their fate. Trekking over the mountains in torrential storms, Wood wonders how this small band of Spanish adventurers overthrew an empire of millions, and why the Aztec ruler Montezuma believed the Spanish were gods.

"The Conquest of the Incas" - The Incas in Peru worshipped the sun and thought their empire was the whole world - until the Spaniards arrived. In 1532, conquistador Francisco Pizarro uncovered this civilization, which extended 3,000 miles from Ecuador to Chile. Wood traces Pizarro's daring march into Peru with fewer than 200 men. Following ancient Inca desert roads, Wood climbs the Andes with a train of llamas, ascending fairy-tale peaks overlooking the Pacific coast. The Spanish pursuit of Manco, the Inca leader who mounted a war of liberation, takes Wood to Cuzco, the Incan "navel of the earth." He continues on to the ruins of the Sacred Valley and Macchu Picchu, over the passes of the high Andes, up 17,000 -foot glaciers and down into tropical rainforests to locate the lost city of the Incas at Vilcabamba.

Repeat Broadcasts:

  • KQED World: Fri, Jun 5, 2009 -- 11:00 AM
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