Simon Schama begins Civilisations with this premise: that it is in art - the play of the creative imagination - that humanity expresses its most essential self: the power to break the tyranny of the humdrum, the grind of everyday.
If David Olusoga's first film in Civilisations is about the art that followed and reflected early encounters between different cultures, his second explores the artistic reaction to imperialism in the 19th century. David shows the growing ambivalence with which artists reacted to the idea of progress, both intellectual and scientific, that underpinned the imperial mission and followed the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution.
2018 • History
From Roman marbles and Egyptian mummies to Renaissance masterpieces and African sculptures, in this special accompanying programme to Civilisations, Mary Beard goes in search of extraordinary works of art from all over the world that can be seen here in Britain.
2018 • History
In the spectacular deserts of coastal Peru, archaeologist Dr Jago Cooper explores the dramatic rise and fall of Chimor, the first empire of South America. His journey begins among the ruins of a vast lost city once home to an all-powerful monarchy, whose subjects transformed the desert landscape, created gold and silver treasures and believed so strongly in the power of their gods that they made the most shocking of sacrifices. Chimor thrived despite facing some of the most extreme climate conditions in the world, but not even this powerful empire could withstand the forces that eventually destroyed it.
A look at how Hitler calculated that to fight on long enough to fulfil his aim of eradicating Europe's Jews he needed to capture the Caucasus, and to do that he had to take Stalingrad. There is also a look at how the US rebuilt its navy and took itself from the 18th-ranked army in the world to be second only to the Soviet Union, a tale of ingenuity and enterprise that turned the vast resources of America into the numbers that could win a war.
Forty years ago, hundreds of skeletons were unearthed in a mass grave in an English village. Bioarchaeologist Cat Jarman believes these bones are the last remains of the “Great Heathen Army,” a legendary Viking fighting force that invaded England in the ninth century and has long been lost to history. Armed with the latest scientific methods, Cat’s team uncovers extraordinary human stories from the front line, including evidence of women fighters and a lost warrior reunited with his son in death
For the first time, we are able to show full details of the excavation of a hidden tunnel, sealed and forgotten for 1,800 years, beneath a pyramid in Teotihuacan, Mexico. The ongoing excavation is producing a flood of discoveries that are not only shedding fresh light on the religious and intellectual life of the people who lived here, but also radically changing the way we think civilization began.
2014 • History
In Benito Mussolini, Hitler finds an ally to whom he remains faithful until his downfall. The trips to Italy are the only foreign ones he undertakes. Hitler takes control of the army. The threat alone of an invasion is enough: the Austrian Chancellor allows Hitler to take over, 75% of the Austrian people want to be part of the German Reich. Planning to disintegrate Czechoslovakia, Hitler signs the Munich Agreement in September 1938, in which Czechoslovakia has to abdicate the territories of the so-called Sudeten Germans