Over 60,000 years ago, the first modern humans—people physically identical to us today—left their African homeland and entered Europe, then a bleak and inhospitable continent in the grip of the Ice Age. But when they arrived, they were not alone: the stocky, powerfully built Neanderthals had already been living there for hundred of thousands of years. So what happened when the first modern humans encountered the Neanderthals? Did we make love or war?
After Caesar, Antony and Octavian divided the empire for a time. But there could only be one successor to Caesar. Ten years later, the supreme strategist Octavian waged a critical naval battle, the Battle of Actium, against his former ally, Antony, who now had the backing of Cleopatra.
In episode two we explore the Ottoman Empire’s Golden Age and chart the height of its expansion into Europe, climaxing with the 1683 siege of Vienna. The episode opens in Istanbul where Presenter Julian Davison explores the reign of the Empire’s most successful Sultan, Sulieman the Magnificent. A sophisticated ruler, Sulieman not only encouraged artistic and architectural achievement but helped to organise and unify the wide range of cultures and religions across his growing empire.
Around 200,000 years ago, a new species, Homo sapiens, appeared on the African landscape. While scientists have imagined eastern Africa as a real-life Garden of Eden, the latest research suggests humans evolved in many places across the continent at the same time. DNA from a 19th-century African-American slave is forcing geneticists to re-think the origins of our species. The theory is that our ancestors met, mated and hybridized with other human types in Africa — creating ever greater diversity within our species.
Simon uncovers the city's ancient Greek roots, maps its transformation into the imperial capital of a Christian Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great and reveals how ecclesiastical clashes forced Eastern and Western Churches apart.
Presenter Bettany Hughes explores the day in 32BC when Octavian, Julius Caesar's adopted son, stole the secret will of Mark Antony, his most dangerous political rival. The document's release gave Octavian crucial support in the civil war that followed and allowed him to establish himself as Rome's first emperor, Augustus.