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?
When Rome is sacked by barbarians, Europe enters a Dark Age. But from the fringes of the old empire, two new forces remake the world. The Arabs, funded by a gold rush, unite under the banner of Islam. The Vikings rejuvenate the cities of Europe, travel to America and become Christian knights. The stage is set for a clash of civilisations - the Crusades.
The end of the American Civil War allows Mankind to go into overdrive. This is an age of innovation, transformation and mass production. People believe that ‘Anything, everything, is possible.’ Japan goes from feudal society to industrial superpower within 50 years. But progress has its dark side. The demand for rubber devastates Africa. And the desire to build bigger, faster, better leads to a titanic disaster…
A rapid-fire history of our world, from the beginning of time as we know it to present day. This two-hour CGI-driven special delves into the key turning points: the formation of earth, emergence of life, spread of man and the growth of civilization - and reveals their surprising connections to our world today.
2011 • History
It's known as the Miracle of Dunkirk: in May 1940, approximately 340,000 Allied troops were trapped with their backs to the sea. Sitting ducks, the troops were subjected to an endless barrage of bombs and bullets as the Luftwaffe apparently bombed at will. The situation seemed hopeless. Then a fleet of ships appeared on the horizon, mostly sent by the Royal Navy but joined by smaller craft captained by plucky civilians. The soldiers were rescued from the beaches and taken safely back to Britain. They would later return to win the war. But behind the Miracle of Dunkirk there's another, hidden story. Soldiers and mariners, angry that they'd apparently been left undefended against the Luftwaffe, blamed the RAF. Historians have long viewed Dunkirk as the RAF's poorest hour. But now, recently released MoD files reveal that, far from being absent, the RAF were suffering massive losses supporting the evacuation.
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.