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Jul 09
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What the Ancients Did for Us is a 2005 BBC documentary series presented by Adam Hart-Davis that examines the impact of ancient civilizations on modern society.

 

Episode one: The Islamic World

The Arab and Muslim world has had a profound and lasting influence on our life today, the list is long and full of surprises, but perhaps the most important thing that the Islamic Empire did for us is preserve, refine and improve all the knowledge left by the scholars of the ancients, and without that work by the Muslim scholars all of that knowledge might have been lost and our lives much the poorer.

 

Episode two: The Chinese

Cut off from the rest of the world for centuries, the Chinese developed a unique culture and made many technological, scientific and artistic advances long before the West. Now the creative forces that shaped this huge country have exploded into the full glare of the 21st century.

 

Episode three: The Aztecs, Maya and Incas

This episode examines the ideas and inventions that emerged from the Aztec, Mayan and Incan peoples of Pre-columbian America.

 

Episode four: The Romans

This episode examines the ideas and inventions that emerged from Ancient Rome.

 

Episode five: The Indians

The culture of India has always been closely linked to religion, several world faiths began here, such as Hinduism, Sikhism and Buddhism, and over the millennia they have all left their imprint on Indian thought.

 

Episode six: The Mesopotamians

Mesopotamia means the land between the rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates that flow through modern day Syria and Iraq; in this narrow strip of land human history began. The Mesopotamians weren’t just a single people, but a whole series of overlapping civilisations, the Sumerians, the Akkadians, the Babylonians and the Assyrians, each one building on the achievements of the one before, and between them they laid the foundations of our civilisation.

 

Episode seven: The Egyptians

It’s impossible to think of Egypt without thinking of the Nile, the longest river in the world. In a country mostly covered by desert the river has always been its lifeblood, without it there would have been no pharaohs, no pyramids and no ancient civilisation. There understanding of the river and its seasonal changes would be the key to Egypt’s prosperity.

 

Episode eight: The Greeks

On the shores of the Aegean Sea three-and-a-half-thousand years ago a new civilisation emerged, one that more than any other laid the foundations of our own society. When you think of the ancient Greeks you think of democracy, theatre, music, mathematics, but what appeals to me is their sheer ingenuity.

 

Episode nine: The Britons

People have lived on these islands for hundred of thousands of years; how much do we know about Britain’s beginnings? This is Butser, a wonderful reconstruction of an ancient farm in Hampshire and here I am going to go back through the British ages: through the Iron Age, the Bronze Age, and the Stone Age. I’m setting out to show that the early Brits were well organized, spiritual and technologically advanced Europeans, long before the Romans came and changed everything.

 

  Watch Online: 

 

              Episode 1 - The Islamic World

              Episode 2 - The Chinese

              Episode 3 - The Aztecs, Maya and Incas           

              Episode 4 - The Romans

              Episode 5 - The Indians

              Episode 6 - The Mesopotamians

              Episode 7 - The Egyptians

              Episode 8 - The Greeks

              Episode 9 - The Britons

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