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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

The Stolen Eagle

       History
In this historical drama, the turbulent transition from Roman republic to autocratic empire, which changed world history through civil war and wars of conquest, is sketched both from the aristocratic viewpoint of Julius Caesar, his family, his adopted successor Octavian Augustus, and their political allies and adversaries, and from the politically naive viewpoint of a few ordinary Romans, notably the soldiers Lucius Vorenus and Titus Pullo and their families.
'The Stolen Eagle.' In Gaul in 52 B.C., two Roman soldiers, Legionary Titus Pullo and Centurion Lucius Vorenus, are tasked with recovering Julius Caesar's personal Eagle, stolen from his camp in the dead of night. With his campaign in Gaul coming to a successful conclusion, Caesar's popularity is continuing to grow. He's saddened however when he receives news from his good friend Pompey Magnus that his daughter, Pompey's wife, has died in childbirth. In the Senate, Pompey must defend the prolonged absence of his friend and co-Consul Caesar against charges of corruption.
Series: Rome

Orthodoxy From Empire to Empire

   2011    Culture
In the third part of his journey into the history of Christianity, Professor Diarmaid MacCulloch charts Orthodoxy's extraordinary fight for survival. After its glory days in the eastern Roman Empire, it stood right in the path of Muslim expansion, suffered betrayal by crusading Catholics, was seized by the Russian tsars and faced near-extinction under Soviet communism. MacCulloch visits the greatest collection of early icons in the Sinai desert, a surviving relic of the iconoclastic crisis in Istanbul and Ivan the Terrible's cathedral in Moscow to discover the secret of Orthodoxy's endurance.
Series: A History of Christianity

In The Sign Of The Cross

   2007    History
In the fourth episode of the series, Clovis was the first Frankish king to acknowledge the Christian faith. This changed the direction of Europe's history.
Series: The Germanic Tribes

14 Days of Blood

   2016    History
In the last episode of the series, lavish imperial games at the Colosseum are highlighted by the emperor's bloody victories, but his paranoid abuses of power lead to a final betrayal.
Series: Roman Empire: Reign of Blood
Planet Earth II
Planet Earth II

   2016    Nature
Enemies of Reason
Enemies of Reason

      Medicine
What is the Right Diet for You
What is the Right Diet for You

   2015    Medicine
The Hunt
The Hunt

   2015    Nature
Leaving Neverland
Leaving Neverland

   2019    Culture
Survivors Guide to Prison
Survivors Guide to Prison

   2018    Culture
The Hunt
The Hunt

   2015    Nature
The Last Dance
The Last Dance

   2020    Culture