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?
D-Day is underway, but at Omaha Beach, 'the Bedford Boys', volunteers of the US 29th Infantry Division, find themselves thrown into freezing surf and a murderous German cross-fire. As the first assault waves are mown down on the ramps of their landing craft, it looks like the Allied invasion of Europe might be careering towards disaster. But at other beaches the British, Canadian and US troops are soon able to advance inland. For the local French population it is a moment of joy, but also great danger. Hundreds are killed when the RAF bombs the Norman town of Caen – one of their D-Day objectives. The fighting inland is no less fierce than on the beaches. As 'the Longest Day' draws to a close, rumours circulate on both sides that the enemy is shooting its prisoners.
Rageh Omaar explains how the collapse of this Islamic super-power following the first World War left problems that still exist in Europe and the Middle East today. From its capital in Istanbul the Ottoman Empire matched the glories of Ancient Rome. Yet its achievements have been largely lost in the trauma of its last few years. Brutality, massacres and the carve-up of former Ottoman lands created a legacy of tension and conflict that continue to this day. The heartland of the former empire - modern day Turkey - turned its back on its Islamic, Ottoman past. It underwent a social revolution led by military commander and secular visionary Mustafa Kemal-Ataturk. So why is Ottomanism back on the political agenda? And why are many politicians in the West hoping that Turkey can provide a role model as a modern, Islamic democracy?
Mussolini's ambition had always been to recreate the old Roman empire. The trouble was, militarily, he was a disaster. After failed attacks in North Africa and Greece, his armies were on the run. Hitler, now faced a difficult choice. Did he divert troops needed at other fronts to support his ally, or did he let Mussolini fall ? Hitler chose to support him - a decision that would spell disaster for both of them. Hitler would lose hundreds of thousands of troops. Mussolini would be assassinated. This film tells the extraordinary story of the war in North Africa and features the heroics of the tiny island of Malta as it withstood wave after wave of Nazi assault. It ends with the Allies fighting their way up Italy and Germany in retreat.
D-Day suffers a last minute postponement when the weather over the Channel deteriorates. For Allied Supreme Commander General Eisenhower these are moments of extreme anxiety. Many of his men will be experiencing combat for the first time, and there is much that could go wrong. When meteorologists promise Eisenhower a brief window of improved weather, he takes the gamble and orders the invasion to proceed. Airborne divisions lead the way, parachuting into the darkness over Normandy. Shortly after dawn landing craft approach the coast. At Omaha Beach the Germans are waiting for them. The carnage that follows is described here with vivid personal testimony from both sides.
Archaeologists hunt for Queen Cleopatra's lost tomb; underwater archaeologists explore sunken ruins; a team takes mummies to the hospital to scan for hidden treasure; an archaeologist discovers a secret tunnel network at a forgotten temple.