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The Secret File of Marco Polo

   2018    Historia
Did Marco Polo, the most illustrious traveller in history, ever go to China? To this day doubt lingers, among some scholars, as to whether the Venetian’s book is a personal account of China’s 13th-century Middle Kingdom and its marvels. Scientists, western scholars and Chinese historians have uncovered striking new evidence that the son of Venetian merchants actually had been to China. Explore the mysteries of the historical figure in this featured documentary.

The Story of German Beer

   2021    Technology
Beer, as popular today as ever. Beer, an ever present in changing times. German beer, protected for 500 years, it's a mark of quality and an export success the world over. This documentary looks at the history of beer starting with the Sumerians, who invented it 5.000 years ago, to the Middle Ages and to the new trend of the future: craft beer. Prost!

Out of the Darkness

       History
The third assault on the tattered remains of Roman civilization came from even further North, where the melting glacial ice had created immense sheltered fjords, leaving its inhabitants little choice but the sea. These fearless navigators understood that dominion over the oceans was the key to their ambitions.
Where the Romans expanded incrementally, the Vikings adopted a bolder, more aggressive approach. So was it the Dark Age which failed Europe, or the stifling uniformity of the great Roman experiment? Were the lost tribes more victim than failure? Richard Rudgley will hope to shed new light on the real secrets of the so-called Dark Age.
Series: Barbarians: Secrets of the Dark Ages

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

Ashes to Ashes

   2020    History
Hours before Mehmed II launches his final assault, an ominous sight shakes both sides. Rumors of a 40-ship fleet's imminent arrival have swirled for weeks, but it's exact whereabouts remained unknown. Ottoman cannons reduced the city walls to rubble, and Venetian reinforcements arrived too late. The conquest of Constantinople ushers in a new era for the Ottoman Empire, being a dominant force in world politics for 300 years. Mehmed II, in many senses, changed the nature of world history.
Series: Rise of Empires: Ottoman
How to Grow a Planet
How to Grow a Planet

   2012    Science
The Beauty of Maps
The Beauty of Maps

   2010    Art
Ancient Rome
Ancient Rome

   2006    History
Out of the Cradle
Out of the Cradle

   2019    History
The Hunt
The Hunt

   2015    Nature
History of the Eagles
History of the Eagles

   2013    History
Cosmos
Cosmos

   1980    Science