Dan Snow uncovers the lost Vikings in America with space archaeologist Dr Sarah Parcak. Sarah uses satellites 383 miles above the earth to spot ruins as small as 30cm buried beneath the surface. As Sarah searches for Viking sites from Britain to America, Dan explores how they voyaged thousands of miles when most ships never left the shoreline. He also tracks their expansion west, first as raiders and then as settlers and traders throughout Britain and beyond to Iceland and Greenland. In North America they excavate what could be the most westerly Viking settlement ever discovered.
Continuing his fascinating journey to rediscover the central role played by the Ottoman empire in Europe and the Middle East, Rageh Omaar explores the huge contrasts in the times of two very different Ottoman sultans. The most famous Suleiman the Magnificent in the golden age of the 16th century and the troubled reign of Abdul Hamid II in the 19th century when the Ottomans were dubbed 'the Sick Man of Europe'. Rageh examines the cultural legacy as well as the physical, religious and political architecture of Ottoman rule to find out what a Muslim world run from Europe was really like. It reveals the backdrop to the relationship between Islam and Europe today, how the Ottomans became central in the power politics of Europe and what could have happened had they succeeded in their successive bids to seize Vienna, then a key European capital.
Tracing the origins of Egypt's unique visual style, he treks across the Sahara and travels the Nile to find the rarely-seen art of its earliest peoples. Exploring how this civilisation's art reflected its religion, he looks anew at the Great Pyramid, and the statuary and painting of the Old Kingdom. Sooke is amazed by the technical prowess of ancient artists whose skills confound contemporary craftsmen.
The contrast between the majestic statues of Easter Island and the desolation of their surroundings is stark. For decades Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as the islanders call it, has been seen as a warning from history for the planet as a whole - wilfully expend natural resources and the collapse of civilisation is inevitable. But archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper believes this is a disastrous misreading of what happened on Easter Island. He believes that its culture was a success story not a failure, and the real reasons for its ultimate demise were far more shocking. Cooper argues that there is an important lesson that the experience of Easter Island can teach the rest of the world, but it doesn't begin by blaming its inhabitants for their own downfall. This film examines the latest scientific and archaeological evidence to reveal a compelling new narrative, one that sees the famous statues as only part of a complex culture that thrived in isolation. Cooper finds a path between competing theories about what happened to Easter Island to make us see this unique place in a fresh light.
2014 • History
The final programme in the series looks at Romania, where Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu ran a personal dictatorship for nearly a quarter of a century. Abortion and contraception were banned as their rule reached far into the private lives of every Romanian. When communism collapsed and the regime was overthrown, the self-styled 'mother and father of the nation' were executed by a firing squad on December 25 1989.
Rageh Omaar explains how the collapse of this Islamic super-power following the first World War left problems that still exist in Europe and the Middle East today. From its capital in Istanbul the Ottoman Empire matched the glories of Ancient Rome. Yet its achievements have been largely lost in the trauma of its last few years. Brutality, massacres and the carve-up of former Ottoman lands created a legacy of tension and conflict that continue to this day. The heartland of the former empire - modern day Turkey - turned its back on its Islamic, Ottoman past. It underwent a social revolution led by military commander and secular visionary Mustafa Kemal-Ataturk. So why is Ottomanism back on the political agenda? And why are many politicians in the West hoping that Turkey can provide a role model as a modern, Islamic democracy?