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?
In the final part of his personal account of Britain's empire, Jeremy Paxman tells the extraordinary story of how a desire for conquest became a mission to improve the rest of mankind, especially in Africa, and how that mission shaded into an unquestioning belief that Britain could - and should - rule the world. In Central Africa, he travels in the footsteps of David Livingstone who, though a failure as a missionary, became a legendary figure - the patron saint of empire who started a flood of missionaries to the so-called 'Dark Continent'. In South Africa, Paxman tells the story of Cecil Rhodes, a man with a different sort of mission, who believed in the white man's right to rule the world, laying down the foundations for apartheid. The journey ends in Kenya, where conflict between white settlers and the African population brought bloodshed, torture and eventual withdrawal.
Was he an incompetent ruler, a brutal tyrant, or a great leader? 2,000 years after his death, the legacy of China's first emperor, Qin Shi Huang, remains a point of debate. His role in ending centuries of conflict between warring factions and creating China's first imperial dynasty is indisputable, yet he has questionably been portrayed as a violent oppressor. Through ancient texts, artifacts, and expert insights, revisit the life of this complicated and influential figure.
Simon Sebag Montefiore looks at how every event in ancient Rome revolved around religion. From the foundation myth through to the deification of emperors, nothing could happen without calling upon the pantheon of Roman gods. Simon investigates how the Romans worshipped and sacrificed to the gods. He discovers that sacredness defined what was Roman and it was the responsibility of every Roman to play their part in the cult. Even the ancient Roman sewer was holy ground!
Between 1950 and 1953, more than 24 nations sent troops to Korea as the opposing ambitions and ideologies of the emerging Cold War superpowers - China, Russia and the USA - fought for supremacy on the peninsula. With first-hand testimony and new historical material, Korea: The Never Ending War retraces the history of a conflict that resulted in millions of deaths, brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, and continues to shape history to this day. The 1953 armistice brought a fragile peace to the Korean Peninsula, but the war has never officially ended and deep divisions - and the threat of nuclear conflict - remain.
2019 • History
1944: The Soviets continue on the path towards liberation. On the road to Berlin, they discover the horror of Hitler's extermination camps. Stalin's people have sacrificed the most: 9 million soldiers dead and 20 million civilians killed. Has he become Master of the World?