Historian Michael Wood looks back at the start of China's history from the creation legend to the first 3 recorded dynasties Xia, Shang and Zhou, to the unification of 7 states under Qin Shi Huang. The name China comes from this Qin Dynasty, although the Chinese people refer to themselves as The Han.
2016 • History
China's last empire, the Qing, lasted from 1644 to 1912. It began in violence and war as the Manchus swept down from the north, but invaders became emperors, with three generations of one family ruling the country. Among them, Michael Wood argues, was China's greatest emperor - Kangxi.
2016 • History
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.
In this episode, evidence that the Ancient Egyptians used high level technology to construct pyramids and temples is shown. Scientists discuss the source of this power and its application in the ancient world. Our science is just beginning to grasp what the ancients clearly understood.
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.
Bettany Hughes' series profiling the most celebrated thinkers of the Ancient world continues as she turns her attention to Socrates. Heading to Greece, she details how the Athenian philosopher secured a reputation as an influential maverick. She also highlights how his contributions as one of the founders of Western philosophy did not please his detractors, as his outspoken defence of his beliefs ultimately led to his execution.
Rome was the world's first ancient megacity. At a time when few towns could number more than 10,000 inhabitants, more than a million lived in Rome. But in a world without modern technology, how on earth did the Romans do it? How did they feed their burgeoning population, how did they house them, and how did they get them into town without buses or trains? How on earth did the Romans make their great city work? In the final episode of the series, Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill takes us up ancient tower blocks, down ancient sewers, and above 2,000-year-old harbour basins still filled with water, to find out. He reveals how this city surpassed all those from the ancient world that had gone before. Last but not least, Professor Wallace-Hadrill uncovers the secret of Rome's success - the planning still captured on pieces of an 1,800-year-old marble map of the city, a map which shows that astonishingly, in many places, the street plan of Ancient Rome mirrors that of the city today in exact detail.