This first episode covers Hitler's invasion of Poland, when the world stood on the brink of war, and features stunning colourised footage of the catastrophe faced by the Polish army as it was crushed by the Nazi war machine.
Simon explores modern Istanbul in search of the last desperate centuries of Christian Byzantium, in which the once glorious city was buffeted by enemies in both East and West, and yet still produced a golden artistic renaissance. This is story of the Christian crusaders who destroyed the city, and the Ottoman Muslims who restored it to life as an imperial capital after the epic siege of 1453.
By January 1916 the war had become a stalemate. Millions had died and yet no side had achieved a decisive breakthrough. Austria-Hungary tripled the size of its armies to five million men. Germany doubled its forces to seven million. And in Britain men were volunteering to fight at the rate of up to 33,000 a day.
Bettany Hughes recalls eight pivotal days that defined the Roman Empire and its establishment as the world's first superpower. She begins by exploring the day in 202BC when Rome defeated the might of Carthage under Hannibal at the Battle of Zama in modern-day Tunisia "Eight Days That Made Rome is a docu-drama that leaves behind the conventional chronologies of Rome's thousand-year history and brings razor-sharp focus to eight days that created, tested and defined its greatness. Each programme works as a stand-alone, as strong in its own right as part of a series and reveals a Rome relevant to us today, with its noblest and darkest instincts still resonating in the world around us."
Archaeologist and historian Richard Miles explores the roots of one of the most profound innovations in the human story - civilisation - in the first episode of an epic series that runs from the creation of the first cities in Mesopotamia some 6,000 years ago, to the decline and fall of the Roman Empire. Starting in Uruk, the 'mother of all cities', in southern Iraq, Richard travels to Syria, Egypt, Anatolia and Greece, tracing the birth and development of technology and culture.
A mysterious band of pirates plunders the Mediterranean coast – leaving destruction in its wake. Empires fall, but out of the chaos, we discover iron. Armed with this wonder metal, ordinary folk can overthrow tyrants and build a new world order. From the birth of democracy in Athens, to the creation of the Bible in Babylon – people power reshapes Mankind.