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Art of Spain: The Dark Heart

   2008    Art
Graham-Dixon journeys to the country’s scorched centre to explore Spanish art of the 16th and 17th centuries. From the mystical world of El Greco to the tender genius of Velazquez, this was a moment so extraordinary it became known as the Golden Age. But beneath the glittering surface was a dark and savage heart. Travelling from the architectural jewel of Toledo to majestic Madrid, Andrew Graham-Dixon traces the rise and fall of the Spanish Empire, the brutal conquest of the New World, and the religious madness of the Inquisition, to discover how a history so violent could produce some of the most beautiful art ever seen.
Series: Art of Spain

The Story of India: Ages of Gold

   2007    History
Presenter Michael Wood seeks out the achievements of the country’s golden age, discovering how India discovered zero, calculated the circumference of the Earth and wrote the world’s first sex guide, the Kama Sutra. In the south, he visits the giant temple of Tanjore and sees traditional bronze casters, working as their ancestors did 1,000 years ago.
Series: The Story of India

Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing
Dangerous knowledge
Dangerous knowledge

   2007    Science
Out of the Cradle
Out of the Cradle

   2019    History
The Cell
The Cell

   2009    Science
Japan Earth Enchanted Islands
Japan Earth Enchanted Islands

   2017    Nature
Conquistadors
Conquistadors

   2002    History
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture
Elvis Presley: The Searcher
Elvis Presley: The Searcher

   2018    History
Ice Age Giants
Ice Age Giants

   2013    Science