A detailed look at the life of Elizabeth I, the 'Virgin Queen'. Exploring the close relationships with her intimate attendants and the attitudes to and treatment of women at the time, this episode about Elizabeth focuses on her affairs, her diet and her power.
2016 • History
What happened when early humans ventured out of Africa and into Asia? Where did they go and whom did they meet along the way? The latest evidence suggests they left far earlier than previously thought and interbred with other types of ancient human - Homo erectus, Neanderthals and also the Denisovans, whose existence was established only five years ago when geneticists extracted DNA from a tiny fragment of finger bone. Because these ancient humans mated with our ancestors, their genes have found a home in our DNA. More than that, they’ve helped us survive and thrive.
Nature to Nations explores the rise of great American nations, from dynastic monarchies to participatory democracies. What lies behind these diverse and sophisticated governments? Answers emerge from an archaeologist excavating America’s oldest temple in the Peruvian Andes, a tribe initiating a new chief at a ceremony surrounded by cedar totem poles in the Pacific Northwest, an expert reading ancient hieroglyphs from a sarcophagus to tell a forgotten history of Maya kings, and the return of an ancient shell wampum belt to the birthplace of democracy near Syracuse, New York.
Egypt's Great Pyramid may be humanity's greatest achievement: a skyscraper of stone built without computers or complex machinery. This super-sized tomb has fascinated historians and archaeologists for centuries, but exactly how the ancient Egyptians finished the monument and fitted its two and a half million blocks in a quarter of a century has long remained an enigma. Today the secrets of the pyramid are finally being revealed thanks to a series of new findings. At the foot of the monument, archaeologists are uncovering the last surviving relic of the pharaoh Khufu, whose tomb it is: a huge ceremonial boat buried in flat-pack form for more than 4500 years. It's a clue that points to the important role that ships and water could have played in the pyramids' construction. This documentary follows investigations that reveal how strong the link between pyramids and boats is. It's a story of more than how Egypt built a pyramid: it's about how the pyramid helped build the modern world.
2017 • History
In 1901, a group of divers excavating an ancient Roman shipwreck near the island of Antikythera, off the southern coast of Greece, found a mysterious object - a lump of calcified stone that contained within it several gearwheels welded together after years under the sea. The 2,000-year-old object, no bigger than a modern laptop, is now regarded as the world's oldest computer, devised to predict solar eclipses and, according to recent findings, calculate the timing of the ancient Olympics. Following the efforts of an international team of scientists, the mysteries of the Antikythera Mechanism are uncovered, revealing surprising and awe-inspiring details of the object that continues to mystify
2012 • History
Bettany Hughes' series exploring the lives and teachings of influential ancient philosophers draws to a close with a profile of Confucius, who is credited as the first Chinese thinker to take a systematic philosophical approach to issues of social, political and ethical importance. Born during the chaotic Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history, Confucius believed that harmony could be promoted and achieved through the examples of sage rulers. He was also a innovative teacher, and tried to instill his principles of moral excellence in China's elite, but died without seeing his vision for his nation come to pass. However, his philosophies would eventually form the bedrock of Chinese culture, with many of his principles of tradition surviving to this day.