Alastair Sooke follows in the footsteps of Rome's mad, bad and dangerous emperors in the second part of his celebration of Roman art. He dons a wetsuit to explore the underwater remains of the Emperor Claudius's pleasure palace and ventures into the cave where Tiberius held wild parties. He finds their taste in art chimes perfectly with their obsession with sex and violence. The other side of the coin was the bombastic art the Romans are best remembered for - monumental arches and columns that boast about their conquests. Trajan's Column in Rome reads like the storyboard of a modern-day propaganda film. Sooke concludes with the remarkable legacy of the Emperor Hadrian. He gave the world the magnificent Pantheon in Rome - the eternal image of his lover Antinous, the most beautiful boy in the history of art - and a villa in Tivoli where he created one of the most ambitious art collections ever created.
Deciphering the meaning of strange symbols in Egyptian art gives insight into ancient knowledge of sacred cosmology. A new way of interpreting hieroglyphics is presented, indicating that the ancients had sophisticated understanding of physics, biology and celestial mechanics. The team goes on an expedition into the open desert in search of a remote site of extreme antiquity called nabta playa. Here, Neolithic stone circles were found marking the motion of the same stars as were tracked in pharonic civilization. The possible connection is discussed.
44m • 2010 • The Pyramid Code
It was the world's last Islamic empire - a super-power of a million square miles. From its capital in Istanbul it matched the glories of Ancient Rome. And after six centuries in power it collapsed less than a hundred years ago. Rageh Omaar sets out to discover why the Ottomans have vanished from our understanding of the history of Europe. Why so few realise the importance of Ottoman history in today's Middle East. And why you have to know the Ottoman story to understand the roots of many of today's trouble spots from Palestine, Iraq and Israel to Libya, Syria, Egypt, Bosnia and Kosovo. (Part 2: Suleiman the Magnificent and Abdul Hamid II) Continuing his fascinating journey to rediscover the central role played by the Ottoman empire in Europe and the Middle East, Rageh Omaar explores the huge contrasts in the times of two very different Ottoman sultans. The most famous Suleiman the Magnificent in the golden age of the 16th century and the troubled reign of Abdul Hamid II in the 19th century when the Ottomans were dubbed 'the Sick Man of Europe'. Rageh examines the cultural legacy as well as the physical, religious and political architecture of Ottoman rule to find out what a Muslim world run from Europe was really like. It reveals the backdrop to the relationship between Islam and Europe today, how the Ottomans became central in the power politics of Europe and what could have happened had they succeeded in their successive bids to seize Vienna, then a key European capital.
59m • 2013 • The Ottomans: Europe's Muslim Emperors
For the first time, we are able to show full details of the excavation of a hidden tunnel, sealed and forgotten for 1,800 years, beneath a pyramid in Teotihuacan, Mexico. The ongoing excavation is producing a flood of discoveries that are not only shedding fresh light on the religious and intellectual life of the people who lived here, but also radically changing the way we think civilization began.
48m • 2014