Recensie Unknown: Cave of Bones [Netflix]

Director: Marcos Mannucci | Time to play: 94 minutes | Year: 2023

In it A strangerThe documentary series presents a variety of intriguing wonders of history and science. From unlocking an ancient tomb in a pyramid to the threat of artificial intelligence in the present. All presented in the bombastic way we’re used to in your average Netflix documentary. The fanatical archaeologists Unknown: Cave of Bones they match their predecessors and are given a platform for their claims that a prehistoric burial ground is actually a milestone in human evolution.

In the documentary, one descends deep into a cave system in South Africa. Famous archaeologists steer the camera through claustrophobic cracks and dusty caverns to reach an underground Homo naledi ceremonial site. This extinct human species was only recently discovered and walked the earth between 335,000 and 236,000 years ago. When the children are so happy, the scientists share their findings about the exceptional excavations they are doing and tell of the striking similarities between Homo naledi and Homo sapiens, or modern humans.

What makes this excavation special is the strong belief that there is a ceremonial burial site for dead Homo naledi. In the documentary, archaeologists try to prove that humanoids buried their loved ones in a natural burial chamber to represent a transition to the afterlife. This plays with the idea that long before homo sapiens there were creatures with imagination and a highly developed social system. The animations serve to represent and make credible this incredible journey of homo naledi to the underworld, but did it really take place?

Unknown: Cave of Bones refrain from getting seriously into the disagreement that reigns within paleoanthropology (the study of extinct hominids) on this issue. Lee Berger, the discoverer of homo naledi and the main character, fills most of the documentary with his theories on the origin of homo naledi. The documentary meekly agrees with the scientific superstar, who is not averse to turning his research into a media circus. The documentary conveniently omits the fact that several colleagues question his investigative methods.

Fortunately, the lack of critical opposition so essential to good science does not mean that documentary consists solely of eureka moments. The team of archaeologists is able to substantiate their theory well and try to provide a complete picture of what Homo naledi’s life must have been like, according to them. The devotion with which they practice their craft is admirable and not in itself worthy of reproach. It’s the documentarians who make a one-sided story appear as a proven revelation about the cradle of man, capable of wowing as many Netflix subscribers as possible.

Unknown: Cave of Bones it tries to tell a selective archaeological study as fresh as possible and ask big questions about the human being. The fact that the educational film ignores science is a fact they can live with. Lee Berger gushes enthusiastically about his far-reaching theories and, meanwhile, goes on a spiritual journey when, after eight years, he still passes through a crack and is finally able to see the graves with his own eyes. The forced fantasy of him is what makes the documentary charming, but therefore dangerous.

Unknown: Cave of Bones can be seen in Netflix.

Varsha Rai

Hi, Varsha here. I am a very passionate writer with a knack for the art of words and I hope to share my stories and information in a way that is meaningful and inspiring. At, I write mostly on latest and upcoming movies, movie reviews and everything related to movies. Catch up with me on - [email protected]
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