WHAT THE ANCIENTS KNEW
While the programs naturally address cultural antecedents and benefits of technological progress, the developments themselves are emphasized, at times by dwelling upon illustrative examples, as with the Roman ballista (catapult), Egyptian granite-drill, Chinese papermaking, and the Parthenon’s harmonious proportions. Expert analysis, computer graphics, and footage shot entirely on location combine in the following episodes:
- The Chinese describes a culture at the vanguard of ancient technology due to the practical concerns of running a centralized state, including its developments in explosives, astronomy, timekeeping, printing, metalworking and ceramics, weaponry, maritime technology, anatomy, and seismology.
- The Egyptians examines the products of a culture intensely preoccupied by cycles of life and death (and afterlife), such as methods of irrigation, timekeeping, pyramid-designing and -building (including organizing these enormous projects), and the preservation and storage of corpses.
- The Greeks shows this civilization’s groundbreaking contributions—aside from the founding principles of science itself—to geometry, architecture, astronomy, physics, medicine, and seafaring, with background on some of its greatest thinkers.
- The Romans looks at public works (aqueducts, baths), marketplaces, monuments, and famous structures, stressing that the Romans excelled at perfecting others’ technologies and spreading these improvements throughout the empire.
Total time: 196 minutes