In this ground-breaking film, historian Tom Holland explores how a new religion - Islam - emerged from the seedbed of the ancient world, and asks what we really know for certain about its rise. The result is an extraordinary detective story. Traditionally, Muslims and non-Muslims alike have believed that Islam was born in the full light of history. But a large number of historians now doubt that presumption, and question much of what Muslim tradition has to tell us about the birth of Islam.
Simon uncovers the city's ancient Greek roots, maps its transformation into the imperial capital of a Christian Empire by Emperor Constantine the Great and reveals how ecclesiastical clashes forced Eastern and Western Churches apart.
University of Glasgow, England, 1763. A young engineer tries, in vain, to fix a steam engine before finally understanding what is wrong with it. James Watt still doesn’t know it but he will soon revolutionize the world of industry.
400 years ago British merchants landed on the coast of India and founded a trading post to export goods to London. Over the next 200 years, their tiny business grew into a commercial titan. Using the letters and diaries of the men and women who were there, this documentary tells the story of the East India Company, which revolutionised the British lifestyle, sparked a new age of speculation and profit and by accident created one of the most powerful empires in history. Yet inexorable rise ended in ignominy. Dogged by allegations of greed, corruption and corporate excess, by the 1770s the company's reputation was in tatters. Blamed for turning its back as millions died in the Bengal famine, and thrown into crisis by a credit crunch in Britain, the world's most powerful company had run out of cash, sparking a government intervention.
Alastair unpicks the reasons behind the dazzling revolution that gave birth to classical Greek art, asking how the Greeks got so good so quickly. He travels to the beautiful Valley of the Temples in Agrigento, and to the island of Mozia to see the astonishing charioteer found there in 1979, and marvels at the athletic bodies of the warriors dragged from the seabed - the Riace Bronzes. It was a creative explosion that covered architecture, sculpting in marble, casting in bronze, even painting on vases. Perhaps the most powerful factor was also its greatest legacy - a fascination with the naked human body.
In the concluding part, Dr Jago Cooper argues that it wasn't simply a clash of arms that destroyed the Inca, but a clash of world views. He travels from Peru to the far north of Inca territory in Ecuador to reveal how the great strengths of the empire suddenly became factors in its rapid demise. The Spanish conquest of the Inca destroyed one of the most remarkable empires in the world, yet the Inca legacy leaves a great deal for modern civilisations to learn from.