Up to one million gladiators are thought to have died in arenas across the Roman Empire. Seventy-five were recently found in a single cemetery in York. Two thousand years ago, York was a Roman stronghold, a staging ground for the push against the Scots. Apart from ancient Italy, Roman Britain had the highest density of gladiatorial arenas in Europe. As part of a routine building inspection in the outskirts of York, archaeologists discover an ancient Roman burial site. It soon became apparent the find was anything but routine. Of total 80, 75 of the skeletons were men, a much higher majority than would be expected in a family grave site. The height, build and signs of musculature made the men much bigger than that of the average Roman man. A closer inspection of the bones also revealed a number of cut marks and fractures, evidence the men were no strangers to violence. Most disturbing of all most of the men had been brutally decapitated. Could the men be gladiators?
Trade, and in particular trade in luxury goods, drove the commerce economies of the Bronze Age. This is the time when the first super powers in history, Egypt and Mesopotamia, emerge and dominate the "world" stage of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas and surrounding areas.
Elvis Presley paid $4 to record two songs for his mother and the rest, as they say, is history. But without Elvis, would rock and roll have gone the same route? And how have the many iterations of rock and roll developed and changed our taste and culture since the 1950's?
In episode two, we discover the golden age of the La Tene Celtic warrior and reveal how their world extended as far as central Turkey. But by the middle of the first century BC, the Celts were under threat from an expanding Roman Empire, and the Gallic warrior Vercingetorix would challenge Julius Caesar in an epic battle that would shape the future of Europe.
The choices that Kong Qui, known in the West as Confucius, made during his career as a civil servant and administrator influenced an entire civilization. What if Kong Qui had been as opportunistic and corrupt as other officials? How might the fate of China and its worldview be changed?
We explore the legacies of the Ancient Greeks, what they have given us today, and asks why these legacies have lasted through time. Democracy, art, architecture, philosophy, science, sport, theatre - all can be traced back to ancient Greece. Travelling across the ancient Greek world, from Athens to Olympia, Macedon, Turkey and Sicily, Michael discovers why the ancient Greeks were so successful, why their culture and way of life spread across continents and through time and why they still have such a powerful hold over our imaginations today.