Andrew Marr sets off on an epic journey through 70,000 years of human history. Using dramatic reconstructions, documentary filming around the world and cutting-edge computer graphics, he reveals the decisive moments that shaped the world we live in today, telling stories we thought we knew and others we were never told. (Part 3: The Word and the Sword) Andrew Marr plunges into the spiritual revolutions that shook the world between 300 BC and 700 AD. This was an age that saw the bloody prince Ashoka turn to Buddhism in India, the ill-fated union of Julius Caesar and Egypt's Cleopatra, the unstoppable rise of Christianity across the Roman Empire and the dramatic spread of Islam from Spain to Central Asia. But the most potent human force on the planet came from the combination of faith and military power as both Christianity and Islam created new empires of 'the word and the sword'.
Historian Bettany Hughes investigates the ideas of ancient philosophers, starting with the Indian nobleman Siddhartha Gautama, more popularly known as Buddha. Thought to have been lived and tought between the sixth and fourth centuries BC, the sage and holy man inspired a diverse belief system that influences the lives of millions of people to this day. She travels to India, where Buddha experienced the challenging ideas and extreme methods of wandering `truth seekers', after he had abandoned his family and homeland in the Himalayas to embark on his philosophical quest to find a solution to human suffering.
Historian Michael Scott begins his journey through Sicily on the slopes of Mount Etna, Europe's largest active volcano. For the ancient Greeks, the island was a land of gods and monsters - a dangerous and unpredictable world. Michael discovers how 3,000 years ago, the Greeks began to settle on Sicily's east coast - planting their olives and vines and building great city states that soon came to rival even Athens itself. He learns how great battles were fought between the Greeks and the Carthaginians for control of the island. How the Romans made it their first foreign colony and stripped Sicily of its forests to plant vast fields of grain.
Beginning with the day, around 60 AD, when Roman troops invaded Boudica's settlement, flogged her and raped her daughters, Bettany Hughes reveals the stark realities of brutal Roman rule. The outrage provoked the Iceni queen to lead a revolt that came perilously close to ending the Roman occupation of Britannia.