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The Pearl of Constantinople: Hagia Sophia
Episode 23 of Great Tours: Greece and Turkey
Imagine the sights and sounds of a visit to this magical edifice in Byzantine times, and learn the history of the emperor Justinian's plans for a church that would surpass all others. Contemplate the stunning columns, stonework, mosaics, and the…
Engineering a Roman Aqueduct
Episode 13 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Design an aqueduct for a hypothetical Roman town. First identify a water source. Then consider its elevation and distance to the town, the possible terrain profiles for a channel, and the appropriate type of aqueduct. Conclude by examining the complex…
Istanbul: Capital of the Byzantine Emperors
Episode 22 of Great Tours: Greece and Turkey
In this first episode on the wonders of Istanbul, study the history of the Byzantine Empire and the establishment of Byzantium as a new Rome. Encounter imposing elements of this culture in the cathedral-like Basilica Cistern, the Theodosian Walls, and…
Cities by Design—The Rise of Urban Planning
Episode 10 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Start a series of episodes on infrastructure in the classical world with a look at city planning. The Piraeus in Greece was an influential early example. Analyze the Roman approach to creating a rational order for their cities. Also learn…
Construction Revolution—Arches and Concrete
Episode 6 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Learn how the physics of the arch solves the problem of the tensile weakness of stone. Then see how standard bricks and concrete greatly simplify and reduce the cost of monumental building. These technologies were the key to Rome's construction…
Hoplite Warfare and Sparta
Episode 11 of History of the Ancient World
Experience what it was like to be raised a Spartan man or woman, the changes in military tactics and equipment that made their armies so feared, and the tragic flaw that guaranteed that this Greek city-state's power, no matter how…
Greek Tragedy and the Sophists
Episode 17 of History of the Ancient World
Continue your examination of Greece's cultural heritage with this look at Greek theater: especially its greatest playwrights of tragedy, Aeschylus, Sophocles, and Euripides: and the second wave of philosophers known as the Sophists, led first by Socrates and then by…
Mystery Cultures of Early Greece
Episode 8 of History of the Ancient World
Turn to the Minoan and Mycenaean civilizations of the Mediterranean. Learn about the historical underpinnings of the Minotaur myth, Plato's account of what might have been the basis for the legend of Atlantis, and the rediscovery of writing as Greece…
1453—The Fall of Constantinople
Episode 2 of Turning Points in Modern History Series
Although many educated people think they know about the fall of the Roman Empire, Professor Liulevicius says the end actually happened 1,000 years later with the fall of Constantinople to the Ottoman Turks. Delve deeper into this event and learn…
331 B.C. Gaugamela—Alexander’s Genius
Episode 4 of The Decisive Battles of World History Series
The victory of Alexander at Gaugamela resulted in the spread of Greek culture throughout the Macedonian Empire. Trace Alexander's campaign against the Persians, which led to the battle, and his bloody confrontation with the Persian forces, and grasp the brilliant…
Odysseus--The Trickster Hero
Episode 2 of Heroes and Legends
Go back to the beginning of world literature to explore what made Homer's traveling hero such a powerful figure. Odysseus's story set the model for countless road narratives, but his character, which is surprisingly sly and resourceful, is unique. Here,…
Persians and Greeks
Episode 15 of History of the Ancient World
Discover the reasons the Greek city-states were able to emerge intact from their conflict with a vastly superior Persian Empire. Learn, too, how the defensive alignment put in place to protect those states: begun as an alliance of equals: instead…
Connecting the Empire—Roads and Bridges
Episode 11 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
At its height, the Roman Empire had 75,000 miles of public roads, organized into a system that incorporated way-stations, milestones, triumphal arches, and upward of 1,000 bridges. Investigate how the Romans created this impressive transportation network, parts of which have…
Athens and Experiments in Democracy
Episode 10 of History of the Ancient World
Greece's most famous city-state is often praised for its creation of democracy. You examine the origins of that system and discover some surprising revelations, including the seminal role played by an instance of spurned affection and perhaps the earliest example…
From Temple to Basilica—Timber Roof Systems
Episode 5 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
No wooden roof of a Greek temple has survived from antiquity, yet we can surmise a great deal about how these impressive structures were engineered. Trace how Greek and later Roman architects covered large interior spaces with increasingly sophisticated timber…
Aeneas--The Straight Arrow
Episode 3 of Heroes and Legends
Turn now to the Roman straight arrow. Aeneas's story takes him from the Trojan War to the courtship of Queen Dido and on to the founding of Rome. In writing this epic, Virgil helped shape the Roman Empire's sense of…
479 B.C. Plataea—Greece Wins Freedom
Episode 3 of The Decisive Battles of World History Series
In the 479 B.C. battle of Plataea, Greek "hoplite" forces fighting in phalanxes met the mighty army of the Persian superpower. Study the unfolding of this dramatic engagement, and learn how it ended the Persian threat to Greece and allowed…
Great Ziggurat at Ur—Ancient Architecture
Episode 6 of 30 Masterpieces of the Ancient World Series
With the magnificent ziggurats, ancient people reached for the sky, which was the domain of the deities. Learn about Nanna, the Sumerian moon god, and experience the architectural grandeur at the heart of Sumerian daily life. While wars, climate, and…
The Most Celebrated Edifice—The Pantheon
Episode 9 of Understanding Greek and Roman Technology
Conclude your study of great classical-era structures by examining the greatest of them all: the Pantheon in Rome. Imitated but never equaled, this temple to all the gods incorporates Greek as well as quintessentially Roman architectural features. The stupendous dome…
Later Roman Empire: Crisis and Christianity
Episode 40 of History of the Ancient World
Explore the century that followed Rome's Golden Age and the time of the Five Good Emperors as the empire suffered through political, military, and economic crises that brought it to the brink of collapse, staged a near-miraculous and unexpected recovery,…