In the third episode Mary takes an in-depth look at the question of identity and citizenship within the Roman Empire. What did it mean to be, or to become, Roman, and how did the very different parts of the empire react to Roman rule?
Jeremy Paxman continues his personal account of Britain's empire, looking at how the empire began as a pirates' treasure hunt, grew into an informal empire based on trade and developed into a global financial network. He travels from Jamaica, where sugar made plantation owners rich on the backs of African slaves, to Calcutta, where British traders became the new princes of India. Jeremy then heads to Hong Kong, where British-supplied opium threatened to turn the Chinese into a nation of drug addicts - leading to the brutal opium wars, in which Britain triumphed and took the island of Hong Kong as booty. Unfair trading helped spark the independence movement in India, led by Mahatma Gandhi; in a former cotton spinning town in Lancashire, Jeremy meets two women who remember Gandhi's extraordinary visit in 1931.
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
Alastair Sooke charts the decline and fall of the Roman Empire through some of its hidden and most magical artistic treasures. He travels to Leptis Magna in Libya, shortly after the overthrow of Gaddafi, and finds one of the best preserved Roman cities in the world and the cradle of later Roman art. Sooke discovers glorious mosaics which have never been filmed before but also finds evidence of shocking neglect of Libya's Roman heritage by the Gaddafi regime. His artistic tour takes him to Egypt and the northern frontiers of the empire where he encounters stunning mummy paintings and exquisite silver and glassware. As Rome careered from one crisis to another, official art became more hard boiled and militaristic and an obscure cult called Christianity rose up to seize the mantle of Western art for centuries to come.
In the 17th century, a long period of civil war in France and war across Europe, rebellious members of the French Parliament, dubbed The Fronde, defy the monarchy and this defiance does not end well for them...and changes the history of France.
Alastair Sooke follows in the footsteps of Rome's mad, bad and dangerous emperors in the second part of his celebration of Roman art. He dons a wetsuit to explore the underwater remains of the Emperor Claudius's pleasure palace and ventures into the cave where Tiberius held wild parties. He finds their taste in art chimes perfectly with their obsession with sex and violence. The other side of the coin was the bombastic art the Romans are best remembered for - monumental arches and columns that boast about their conquests. Trajan's Column in Rome reads like the storyboard of a modern-day propaganda film. Sooke concludes with the remarkable legacy of the Emperor Hadrian. He gave the world the magnificent Pantheon in Rome - the eternal image of his lover Antinous, the most beautiful boy in the history of art - and a villa in Tivoli where he created one of the most ambitious art collections ever created.