For Athens - Episode 1
Good morning, we are going to explore ancient Athens and the relationship between Athens and the Persian Empire. This is a French-produced documentary. This episode talks about the Battle of Marathon. The run time for this documentary is 50:59.
The Persians dominate the Middle East. Miltos, a city in the empire starts rebelling against the Persians. They appeal to the Greek-City States for help and Athens sends help. Eventually, the Greeks capture Sardis. This touches on a long struggle between the Persians and the Greeks. The episode kicks off in Prince Xerxes’s bedroom, he has woken up from a nightmare. He dresses and goes to the throne room and meets his father, King Darius.
Prince Xerxes talks about the nightmare with his father. He dreamed that the Greeks had defeated the Persian Empire. King Darius scoffs that the prospect. The Persian Empire was the strongest in the world. The duty of every Persian Emperor is to strengthen the Empire and then expand its borders. After the rebellion in Miltos and the capture of Sardis, the Persians want their revenge. Miltos, the seat of rebellion is first punished. Its inhabitants are reduced to slavery. Darius has taken his revenge. Any city that helps the Greeks is in King Darius’ sights.
Athens is unaware of what has happened. Their citizens carry on as if nothing has happened. They party as if the Persians were not plotting revenge against them. Themistocles is a man in search of honor and fame. He took a chance in politics. He was a great orator and enjoyed solving problems. He was a military man and trained hoplites in military discipline. He took a page out of the Spartan handbook when it came to training soldiers. The Athenians scoffed at the idea of teamwork and working together, however, Themistocles pushed for collectively obeying orders.
Miltiades, a general, saw what Themistocles was doing. Miltiades had worked among the Persians and knew how they operated. Both Miltiades and Themistocles needed to persuade the Greeks to come together to fight against the Persians. Hippias, a Greek exile was in the court of Darius the Great. The Athenians had treated him poorly and he wanted revenge. He would help the Persians conquer the Greeks. Hippias was the last tyrant of Athens. His ousting ended forty-five years of tyranny.
Darius launches his attacks against the Greeks. He demands earth and water. City by city falls to Darius and accepts submission to Darius. Hippias looks forward to helping Darius to conquer Athens. He advises the General to attack by sea and then by land because the Athenians have no military experience. However, there are a few people who do not trust Hippias because he had betrayed the Greeks. There was the potential that he could betray the Persians. Darius believes that Hippias’ hatred of the Athenians would prevent his betrayal.
The fleet and soldiers prepare to subjugate Greece. The Aegean Sea is under Darius’ control. Finally, Athens sees the danger. Miltiades recognizes that danger and tries to talk to the Athenians about it. Some Athenians want to welcome Darius because at least they will keep their identity. However, Miltiades points out that they will be slaves to the Persians. The choice is freedom or slavery, what will the Athenians choose?
The Persian fleet reaches another Greek-City-State. Eretria, the city immediately capitulates. The temples are burned to the ground and the inhabitants are forced into slavery. Darius continues to avenge Sardis. The Persians set their sights on Marathon. Hippias, the Greek traitor picked the site because he was familiar with the location. The Persians work to prepare for battle.
Athens realizes the scale of what has happened and what is coming for them. Themistocles works to reassure his fellow Athenians that they will have a chance against the Persians. The Athenian army has less than 10,000 soldiers to defend their city against the massive Persian Army. Athens turn to the Spartans for help. Will the Spartans want to join with the Athenians to protect the Greek homeland? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out.
This is an interesting series and the build-up to the Battle of Marathon. This would be a good series to show to a history classroom. The information is good and is presented in a storytelling style.
Good morning, we are going to look at life in the Renaissance Court of Cosimo Medici. This document is part of the How to Get Ahead Series with historian Stephen Smith. The run time for this documentary is 59:18.
Stephen Smith explores Florence and the reign of Grand Duke Cosimo Medici. Florence was the birthplace of the Renaissance and home to the Medici Family. They were a family of bankers who turned into royals. They were the patrons of the arts and finer things of life. Artists and thinkers flourished in the Medici Court. Cosimo was a man interested in the finer things in life. He was a man who reigned during the same time as Henry VIII. He was the man who wrote the book on how to be a Renaissance Prince.
The Grand Duke Cosimo set to work to make Florence the Grandest City in Europe. When he became Grand Duke he threw a lavish party and it was his wedding party. He married Eleanora of Toledo. It was a love match and a good start to Cosimo’s reign. She was rich and a beauty. She was the original trophy wife. She was shown off throughout Florence and was heralded throughout the city. The part went on for days. This party showed up the splendor of the court. Florence had never seen a party like this in years.
So what do you do if you are a Renaissance monarch and you become a Grand Duke? Well, if you are Cosimo you just annex the town hall. Decorators and artists from the city descended onto the town hall to redecorate. The town hall used to be the center of the city, where all people were equal. This town hall would be the center of Cosimo’s court and he was the only voice that mattered. Every wall and ceiling proclaimed Cosimo and his characteristics.
The next thing Cosimo did was create royal regalia. One piece of artwork remains that shows the splendor of the Crown Jewels that he created. Cosimo had robes with diamonds and jewels. His ducal crown was a masterpiece. Stephen walks with a master goldsmith about the crown. The crown has been lost to history. At the time it would have symbolized his power and it was decorated with precious stones and pearls. It would have been heavy to wear. The cost would have been staggering.
Cosimo’s court was a place where artists could find support. Michelangelo, who was from Florence fled to Rome and Cosimo wanted to try to get him back. He wrote Michelangelo to persuade him to return to Florence. Would Michelangelo return to Florence? Cosimo also sought to have the perfect portrait taken of him. Stephen examines a neglected bronze in a forgotten corner of a museum. The problem with the bronze is that Cosimo hated it. The bronze was a little too lifelike, it showed Cosimo as a barbarian king. A barbarian king who could do anything he wanted. A portrait of Cosimo would have to demonstrate him as just and a great leader. He had to be a warrior with a heart.
The Prince also came out during this period. It was a primer on how to cheat and deceive your way to the top. It was a tough world, and ruthlessness would be part of Cosimo’s rule book. He fired all his generals and hired mercenaries. These mercenaries were loyal to Cosimo alone and they would protect him from assassination attempts. In fact, he had a secret walkway installed in the city, that way he could make his way through the city without being seen. So how does one get ahead in Cosimo’s court? Continue to watch this episode to find out.
This documentary was time-stamped, so if you want to show clips to a classroom, then you can easily find the clip you need. Additionally, this was a series I did not plan on featuring on the blog because I did not really care for the narrator or his style. However, in my search for Renaissance documentaries, this was an episode to pop up so I gave it a go. I would show clips from this episode, especially clips on Machiavelli. For the most part, this is a documentary to skip.
The Machine That Made Us
Good morning, we are going to look into the history of the Printing Press and the inventor of the Printing Press: Johann Gutenberg in the Machine that Made Us. The run time for this documentary is 58:56 and is hosted by Stephen Fry.
Stephen Fry examines the story of Johann Gutenberg, the genius who invented the printing press. He was the man who launched the first media revolution and launched the modern world. Fry helps makes a medieval printing press. However, Guttenberg’s story is mysterious and Fry hopes that by recreating a printing press he will get to grips with the man.
The documentary starts with Stephen Fry pulling out a game that would have been familiar to children in England. It is the John Bull Printing Outfit and it would have been Stephen’s first experience in how printing work. It taught him how to print with moveable type. He muses about the history of books and movable type. Who was the man who brought us the wonder of printing and books?
Johann Guttenberg was the genius behind printing. He made the possibility of books a reality. Books would be carried all over Europe and would fuel the Renaissance. One of the first books Guttenberg created with his printing press: was the Bible. How and why did Guttenberg invent his machine? Stephen Fry will do a historical experiment to get into the mind of Guttenberg. He will help recreate an original Guttenberg Press. Unfortunately, there were no illustrations of the press. So Stephen Fry will have to be a detective to find out what the original press looked like. He talks over the process with a craftsman Alan May who talks about how the printing press evolved.
All printing presses up to 1800 had a central part that pressed down on the type and a means of transporting the paper to the press. Earlier presses could print two pages at a time. However, based on studying the Guttenberg Bible, Guttenberg’s press could only print one page at a time. Stephen works with Alan May to start working on making a fully functional Guttenberg Printing Press. He gets his hands dirty carving a piece of the printing press. Fry wishes to reproduce a page from the Guttenberg Bible, so he will have to track down materials to help reproduce the page.
However, first Fry heads to the birthplace of Johan Guttenberg where he meets with Barbara Rupp a local historian. Together, they walk the city where Guttenberg was born and talk about the man himself. There is very little evidence of Guttenberg’s childhood. His mother owned land and his father was a metal worker. He grew up in the heart of the German wine industry as well. He studied at university. It seemed that he had the mind of an engineer and a merchant.
Alan has a theory that Guttenberg gained his inspiration for the printing press by observing the wind industry. It would take years of experimentation and money to develop the printing press. Guttenberg would have to move from his hometown to start his printing experimentations. In the meantime, the experimental printing press continues. The screw is being worked on, and Alan needs to make the counter thread for the screw.
Fry continues to follow Guttenberg’s trail down the Rhine River. He moved to Strasberg, a much bigger city than his hometown and a good place to start a business. A merchant class was rising up in this city and this class was much more interested in investing in their future on earth than they were in a heavenly here. Guttenberg would meet up with the people who would help finance his printing press idea. So would Guttenberg be able to find the funding for his big idea? Who would Guttenberg bring together to work on the printing press? Will Alan be able to complete a working Guttenberg press? Did an engraving of the printing press survive? Continue to watch this episode to find out more.
On top of the historical aspect of this documentary, there is also a strong element of experimental history. As a result of this scientific element, I would go ahead a show this episode to a science class and would ask the students what elements of the scientific method they see in this episode. This documentary is highly recommended for both a history and a science class.
Mummy Forensics continues with a forensics humdinger: a fisherman mummy. The run time for this episode is 47:29 and is called the Fisherman Mummy.
Joann Fletcher and her team are back on the case, this time they are investigating an Ancient Peruvian mummy. This mummy has been hidden for 100 years and is unusual for a mummy from Peru. Normally Peruvian mummies are buried bundled together in a fetal position or laid out flat. However, this mummy was found buried in a cross-legged position. This is one puzzle that the team will have to unlock.
Joann takes the lead and does an initial examination of the mummy. The mummy itself looks more skeleton than a mummy however, there are remains of soft tissue. In Peru, the mummies were bundled together with wrapping. Unfortunately not much is known about the mummy other than it came from South America, possibly Peru. There are no hints to the culture it came from. No records as to how it came to England.
The first thing Joann notices is the condition of the rib cage, headdress, and fishing net. Joann starts her examination and nicknames the mummy “The Fisherman.” The forensics team will have a challenge on their hands as they attempt to unwrap the mummy’s story. Joann shows the team the photographs she took and immediately thinks of the Chinchurro culture. They would have resided in South America and they lived on the sea and were fishermen. They are considered the world’s oldest mummy makers.
Stephen, a team member, gathers samples from the mummy to do a chemical analysis. These investigations may hint at where the mummy came from, the mummy’s status, and the cause of death. The chemical analysis will further this mummy’s story. Duncan, another team member is off and is looking to create a 3D Model of the mummy. He is intrigued by how the mummy was buried.
How did this mummy end up in London? It seems that it was brought over by a philanthropist Sir Henry Welcome. Welcome started using the profits from his pharmacy to cultivate a collection of historical wonders. He financed expeditions around the world and collected hundreds of thousands of objects each month. With the number of objects coming in, it was impossible to get all the objects cataloged. The mummy was bought for one hundred pounds. Other than an entry in an inventory, the team will have to rely on the body to tell its story.
Joann brings in a bone expert for a more thorough examination. This bone expert has worked with Peruvian mummies. The expert’s first impression is that the mummy is male, she points to bones in the face. However, it would have been a delicate male. The mummy would have been over twenty and at a minimum was at least thirty to forty. He had no teeth and his jaw shows signs of serious infection. This infection would have been released the infection into the bloodstream. However, this infection was not the cause of death for this mummy.
The Peruvians used natural methods for mummies. They wrapped their mummies and left them to dry in the desert. However, Joann seems to think that this mummy was mummified with artificial means. She points to several features on the mummy that hint at this artificial intervention. So was this mummy mummified by artificial means? The chemical analysis will reveal that.
In the mean time Duncan has his scan and animation done. With this animation, he is able to stretch the mummy out. The mummy was small.
The next item to tackle on the list is to identify the culture where this mummy came from. For this Joann talks with an expert in the Chinchurro culture. She shows the expert the photos and he immediately points out that the mummy did not come from the Chinchurro people. The weaving techniques and the colors used in the cloth hint at a more sophisticated culture. This culture would have had fishing village origins but would have been further inland and come from Central Peru. Who was this man? Where did he come from? Continue to watch this episode to find out more!
So this episode would be more appropriate for an American History class. If I remember rightly, in seventh grade we talked about the ancient cultures of Central and South America. Additionally, this could be shown in a science class or a forensics science class.
Well, I am stuck in the ancient world again as I search for documentaries on the Renaissance and the Reformation. Today, I am going to blog about Mummy Forensic and the Mystery of the Misfit Mummy. The run time for this episode is 48:35.
Mummy Forensics: is a group of mummy experts who try to solve the mysteries of the world’s most mysterious mummies. The team applies modern forensics and looks to the historical record to learn more about Ancient Egyptian Mummies. Joann Fletcher, Stephen Buckley an archeological chemist, Duncan Lees a forensic archeologist, and Jill Scott an Egyptologist make up the Mummy Forensic Team. Each brings their particular set of skills to help tell the mummy’s story. They bring both history and science together to help explore history to help explore how these mummies died.
Today, this mummy forensic team is on the case of a mummy of a temple dancer. The mummy is found in the Bolton Museum. She is partially unwrapped but her cause of death remains a mystery. This mummy is one of the most popular attractions in the museum. Her coffin is beautifully painted and demonstrates her high status. The coffin is an incredibly tight fit for the body. Her shoulders are bashing against the edges of the coffin. How would this lady fit after being wrapped?
Joann Fletcher wants to solve the mystery of this mummy and why she was put in a coffin too small for her body. She sets to work inspecting the mummy and taking photographs. She is looking for even the smallest of clues to crack the case. This case is going to be a challenge for the Mummy Forensic Team. Joann talks about her initial examination. The coffin has been studied over the years by academics and has been written about. The mummy was a priestess, but Joann points out that there was no way the body could have fit.
Jill concurs with this explanation and points out how the paint was scraped off as the lady was put into the coffin. However, the team will need more information. Joann then focuses on the teeth; the lady would have had the modern equivalent of “buck teeth” in her mouth. The Pharaohs of the New Kingdom shared this distinct characteristic. Was this a royal mummy? Stephen Buckley talks about the marks on this mummy’s face. It was hinted that Ramses II had smallpox and this was evidenced by his mummy, but that is disputed. The team makes a plan to examine the mummy further. The mummy is delicate so the team will have to be careful when they examine the mummy further.
Stephen Buckley takes his samples first. The chemical analysis of the mummy will take weeks to process. Joann Fletcher reaches out for help to learn more about the pictograms on the coffin. Alan Fiddles, the pictograms expert carefully examines the paintings on the coffin. The pictograms reveal that she was a singer and participated in the sacred rituals at the Karnak Temple. Jobs in the temple were few and were generally reserved for the elite in society. These women would have spent one month in three serving in the temple. Professor Don Brothwell is also brought in and the mummy is x-rayed. These x-rays will help move the investigation forward…or does it?
The results reveal that the skeleton in the coffin is a MAN! The man had a slender build. His mouth would have given him trouble eating and speaking. This throws the whole investigation into doubt. This means that coffin was not originally built for him. So who was this young man? Due to his mouth condition, there could be a connection to the royal family. However, there would have to be a facial reconstruction and a deeper investigation into the mummy. Who was this man? Why was he put into a woman’s coffin? Did this man have a connection to the Royal Family? Continue to watch this episode to find out!
Even though we are talking about ancient history in this documentary, Mummy Forensic would be an excellent series to show in a science classroom because of the elements of experimental history in this show. If the high school offers a forensic science class, then this is appropriate for the teacher’s list of documentaries to show in the classroom.
Good morning! We are continuing with our exploration of the Renaissance. The run time is 42:25.
People started keeping track of Time. The pocket watch was invented. Merchants earned their fortunes with time. Seafarers were able to explore more. The world tripled in size. An empire arose where the sun never set. Scholars could use time and make new discoveries. The pocket watches along with other inventions transformed the world.
It is 1504, Leonardo da Vinci is a powerful figure. The Mona Lisa was created during this period. It took years for Leonardo to finish. He was never satisfied with his work and always tried to perfect his work. The pope even said that Leonardo would never amount to anything. He was the most versatile geniuses of all time. He was an artist, sculptor, inventor, and architect. The painting was a necessary evil to him.
Only fifteen paintings were attributed to him. He cared more about his inventions rather than his painting. He sometimes made minor corrections to a painting. His paintings were in great demand because they were well done and finished. He painted to earn money to pursue his scientific research.
Italy was ravaged by numerous conflicts. The Italian cities constantly fought with each other. However, art was promoted by these wars. Money flowed from the big cities into the small cities. War was turned to gold and that gold was turned into art. Leonardo applied to work with a city leader. Leonardo was able to create war weapons. One invention was a tortoise-like weapon that was too heavy to operate. Leonardo loved mechanics. Even today, his designs and inventions leave scholars puzzled. Even if something was not invented, Leonardo continued to innovate, experiment, and theorize on mechanics.
Clocks were the most mechanical invention during the Renaissance. However, the church believed that time belonged to God and only God could control time. The church also banned the charging interest. The pocket watch allowed man to control time and make money. Time became a valuable commodity and the restrictions on charging interest were lifted. Martin Luther still upheld the ban on charging interest. John Calvin, another religious reformer, believed that charging interest was okay. Calvin said that economic success was tied to a person’s salvation. Zurich, Switzerland set up money exchanges. Switzerland became a banking pioneer and the people’s wealth increased.
In Renaissance, people looked to the stars and studied the motion of the moon and stars. People could put spend time measuring the sky. Nicholas Copernicus was a mathematician who theorized that the earth revolved around the sun. The people around him tried to encourage him to publish his works. However, he refused because he was afraid that he was going to be made fun of. He kept quiet. It was only seventy years when Copernicus was found to be right: that the earth moved around the sun. Galileo was able to confirm Copernicus was right. The earth was removed from the center of the universe. It would take three hundred years to get the evidence.
The cross-staff or Jacob’s Staff was invented and it allowed sailors to find latitude at sea. It was possible to navigate on the high seas. There were also astronomical tables invented with allowed sailors to navigate the seas. These two objects guided sailors on the sea. Trigonometry emboldened explorers to search for new sources of wealth. It was faster to transport goods over the sea rather than on land. Venice’s monopoly on the spice trade collapsed.
Spain and Portugal became leading sailing nations. One man, Christopher Columbus looked to cut the sailing time between Asia and Europe even further. He went to get funding for his exploration from the Portuguese. However, the sailing time was longer than Columbus believed. Even mathematicians looked at the math and thought Columbus was wrong. The Portuguese turned down Columbus but the Spanish funded his voyages. He discovered a new land. He thought he had found the islands off China and would believe this until the day he died. So what would the impact on the world be as a result of this discovery? Tune into the rest of the episode to find out.
Honestly, this episode was not as good as the first part, so this one I would skip showing in a classroom.
Now it’s time to take a look at the Renaissance. This is a German-produced documentary. This documentary features Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci. The run time for this documentary is 42:25.
Vatican City and Saint Peter’s Square is the most impressive monument of the Renaissance. IT is the largest cathedral in the world. Just think, it would have been impossible to construct such a building in the Middle Ages. The knowledge was just not there. Then the Renaissance happened, and knowledge started to flow. Their knowledge would have enabled people to build such structures as Saint Peter’s. What were their secrets?
Michelangelo was a painter, sculptor, architect, and project manager. He was 70 years old when Saint Peter’s was constructed. He was a man driven by ambition. He was a Renaissance Man. His statue of David would become an icon of the era. It is the best-known sculpture in art history.
The Renaissance rediscovered the Greeks and the Romans. It developed everything further and toppled the ancient giants that had been the people’s teachers. It was a leap for architecture, taking inspiration from the buildings of the Ancient World. The invention of double-entry bookkeeping was invented which meant businessmen could track their funds. Never so much had been invented in such a short time before. The human body was researched. New trade routes were discovered. The pocket watch was discovered. Everyone participated in the Renaissance. Ideas were exchanged and flowed through the people.
What was the impetus for the explosion of these ideas? What drove the men to learn and invent? In ancient times the Romans were capable of constructing buildings like Saint Peters. The Roman forum demonstrates this. They spread their way of life throughout the western world. The Roman method for art and architecture dictated a way of life. Rome was home to over a million people and its dominance was built on the back of slaves. The Roman Military machine held the empire together. However, the Germanic tribes gained the upper hand.
Eventually, Rome fell into decay and the Dark Ages began. The wisdom of the ancients was lost. The ruins of the ancient world were plundered for building materials. Nobody would be able to build such a grand building again. In the eastern world, the Byzantine Empire rose and they kept up with the wisdom of the ancients. Its capital was Constantinople and they were proud of their Roman roots. They called themselves Eastern Romans. However, they came into conflict with Venetian and Genoese Merchants. Eventually, Constantinople was sacked by crusaders, who were against the Orthodox Christians.
This led the Ottomans to take over and that forced the people to flee and they fled to Italy. Here is where the Renaissance would be born. The libraries of Constantinople held treasures of unmeasurable worth. Hundreds of scholars and artists fled the west. It was here that the west would experience a revival. The people learned new things as well as invented new things.
Florence had a population of 50,000 and was a city bursting with self-confidence. It was the Silicon Valley of the Renaissance. Even before the Renaissance began, the Cathedral in Florence was being built. It would be the largest church in the world. Unfortunately, the Cathedral needed a dome and it would take decades to find an engineer capable of building a dome.
Additionally, a new elite was emerging in society. Merchants and bankers grew in wealth and power. The Medici family rose in prominence during these times. The Medici were shrewd bankers and often acted like a mafia. They financed art and architecture in Florence. They would have never been able to grow their wealth without double-entry bookkeeping. Double-entry bookkeeping kept track of incoming income and outflowing money. The Medici Family earned a lot of money and spent a lot of money over their lifetimes. A whole host of artists, scholars, and writers were dependent on the Medici money.
Michelangelo, Raphael, Donatello, and Brunelleschi, were all important figures in the Renaissance. To learn more about the Renaissance continue to watch the episode.
This documentary moved fast and seemed to bounce around from topic to topic. The speed was jarring and it was almost as if this documentary did not have a straight timeline. This would be an interesting documentary to show in a history class as well as an art class.
Recovering Swedish War Ships
Good morning, we are continuing our exploration of the Baltic Sea. This time we are exploring a sea battle between Sweden and Denmark. The run time is 43:08.
On April 24, 1715, the Danish and Swedish navies met and commenced to fight. The battle was not far from the Bay of Kiel. These two nations were fighting over trade routes. Decades later, divers are finding the remains of cannons on the site of the battle. Eventually, a wooden ship was found, making archeologists and historians curious about the battle. What was this ship? What could this ship tell us about such a decisive battle?
A team of archeologists and divers are going to examine the site to identify the mystery ship. What was this ships name? The contemporary records seem to hint at the name of the ship. The evidence suggests that the ship belonged to the Swedish Navy and the ship was called Hedvig Sophia. This ship was sent on a mission to try to attack the Danish Navy to open up the trade routes. The Danish Kingdom controlled three routes so if the Swedes could get through these routes, they too could enjoy the benefits of trading. The Danish Navy spotted the Hedvig Sophia and knew she would be attacking them. They put together a fleet of eleven books to follow the enemy…
In the present day, divers make plans to visit this shipwreck. The water temperature is cold and so extra care is made to make sure valves do not freeze. There is also low visibility on-site, so it will take time to find the mystery shipwreck. As they dive into the wreck, the divers find encrusted rocks. These rocks provided ballast for the mystery shipwreck. The divers finally arrive at the wreck and begin mapping out and measuring the site. Once this mapping and measuring are done the archeologists can come in and excavate the site.
The initial view of the wreck shows that the ship was large. Rolf Lorenz was searching for the wreck and dedicated forty years of his life. Lorenz provides some clues to the ship. He had dived on the wreck before and had brought up some artifacts. He even brought up a cannon from the ship. This cannon had been dated back to the 18th Century. The divers go back to the wreck and find a loose piece of wood to bring up. This wood will be dated to determine the age of the ship.
In a flashback to the initial battle, one man goes after the Swedish Navy. Once he found the Swedish Navy, he is to inform his superiors of the location of the Swedish Navy. This man discovered the location of the navy and went to inform the superiors about the number and the position of the Swedish ships. The Danish Navy goes on the move to engage with the Swedish Navy.
The Swedish Navy has only brought six ships to this battle, and the Hedvig Sophia is the flagship. They are facing a Danish Navy with eleven ships. Who would emerge from this battle victorious? The Hedvig Sophia is armed with over eighty guns and is built to endure heavy cannon fire. Water is leaking into the ship. The Danish ships had struck her several times below the waterline. In fact, the Danish Navy is firing hard against the Swedish Navy. Both sides suffer heavy losses and the Battle of the Baltic Sea takes its toll.
This documentary then examines the Swedish Ship the Vasa. The Vasa demonstrates the size of the warship of the 17th Century. It was the showpiece of the Swedish Navy. This ship was never put into service because she sunk on her maiden voyage. The Vasa hull was made with over one thousand oak logs, and there were sixty-four cannons on board. The Warship was a costly investment for any country’s navy.
So what was the name of this ship? Why was this ship discovered in shallow waters? What can this ship tell us about the remains of the Battle for the Baltic Sea? Tune into the rest of this documentary to find out.
Would I show this documentary to a history class? This documentary would prompt some good discussion on archeology and what it took to identify a ship. This one would be a good one to add to the independent study student list. I would put this documentary as a “potential” show.
The Hanseatic League
Good morning we are going to explore the Hanseatic League and the remains of that league. The run time for this documentary is 43:27.
Recovering the Traces of the Hanseatic League explored the seas three hundred years before the Portuguese started exploring. Not all ships made it back. Ships, storms, and pirates could sink these ships. The Hanseatic League was founded in the 1200s. They were a trading organization. They were a trading network that had extensive contacts in Europe. They focused on the Baltic Sea and what remains of this league is found on the bottom. What can these wrecks tell us about the Hanseatic League?
The Baltic Sea and its icy waters have claimed many a ship over the years. The icy waters that claimed these ships have conserved these ships. Divers take to the waters to explore the shipwrecks. On the top of their list are the ships of the Hanseatic League. What can these shipwrecks tell us? Did the Hanseatic League go farther than what was previously thought? What can these shipwrecks tell us about European History?
A modern research ship scans the bottom during winter. The divers prepare for their trip to the shipwrecks. In 1977, lifeguards found a shipwreck. It was at the height of the Cold War, so diving was unthinkable. With the Cold War over, divers are not able to explore and document the wrecks. The Hanseatic League used cog ships for their trade. The cog ships were the equivalent of the modern-day cargo freighter.
What was discovered about this mysterious shipwreck? The ship was made from wood from the Vistula region. This shipwreck lies on her starboard ship, so the finds are very well preserved. What was found on the ship shows the lucrative trade that the Hanseatic League engaged in? The League was a Pan-European endeavor and it was made of merchants in over two hundred cities. Their premise was to encourage trade unhindered by borders. Trade was the game and it went above politics. The Hanseatic League was to make a profit and profit this league did. This shipwreck was most likely a write-off.
In a lab, the finds from this shipwreck are being examined. A three-legged pot, cod bones, and some strange wooden spits. Why so many wood spits? Well, the wooden spits were used to transport the cod. Transporting cod would have promised the traders a high profit so it would have been transported by a cog ship. Where would these cod fish be transported to? The Shetland Islands were also a destination of the Hanseatic League. These islands would have provided game, ponies, and peat. Would these brave mariners head to the far away Shetlands?
One archeologist thinks so. She retraces those voyages and looks for evidence of trading posts. The sheltered bay would have allowed the cog ships to shelter. A voyage like this would have taken two weeks. Additionally, this archeologist looks to local and contemporary records. She has a lucky break when she meets up with a local farmer who knew the place names. They look at the ruins of a farmhouse and discover a brick. Bricks were never used as a building material on the island but were used for ballast in ships. In the harbor, there are rocks organized in a horseshoe pattern. This horseshoe would have acted as a jetty for the ships.
The archeologists continue to survey the harbor. Fragments of grain are found on the site. Foundations remain on the site as well. These are the remains of a storehouse. A picture emerges with these finds. A merchant would have lived on his ship during the summer while engaging in trade and would have used the storehouse to store his goods before he went back to sea. One archeologist goes for a dive in the harbor to discover, if anything, remains of the goods left behind by these traders. Unfortunately, nothing is to be seen on the harbor floor. So the archeologists move on and walk the remains of a church. What can these remains tell us about the history of the Hanseatic League?
This was an interesting documentary about the Hanseatic League because of the archaeology being featured. I would show third documentary to a history class.
Good morning, we are continuing to explore the catastrophe that impacted the world in 535 AD. This time, the episode will focus on the political consequences for the world as a result of the climate catastrophe. The run time is 49:28.
Evidence suggests that a massive volcano went up in the tropics. It put so much dust in the air that summer became winter. Crops failed and millions died. Which volcano went off? It was the volcano Krakatoa. Krakatoa had the largest eruption on record and the aftermath impacted the world for one hundred years.
What would the eruption look like? A computer simulation provides the answer. This simulation would have estimated how much debris would have been thrown up in the air. The volcano would have torn itself apart and created a thirty-mile-high column of ash, dust, and magma. A secondary explosion would have happened due to rushing seawater into the cracks in the earth. The ash cloud climbed higher and higher, blocking out the sun. The ash would have rained down on forests and the countryside up to one thousand miles away. The fallout from the volcano would have been the equivalent of a nuclear winter.
The result of the explosion would have resulted in temperatures dropping, less rain, and the atmosphere becoming dryer and dryer. There would have been droughts and famine. There would have been political consequences as well. This catastrophe would have brought the Roman Empire to its knees. The Late Roman Empire in Constantinople was flushing. However, that changed with the eruption. The bubonic plague was recorded for the first time in history. How could such a disease flourish as a result of a volcanic eruption?
Animals and insects like humans were impacted by starvation. Since the bubonic plague was transmitted by fleas, the fleas must have been starving. In fact, the climate temperature impacts the fleas’ stomachs. So the fleas hopped from rat to rat in search of a source of food. They were ravenously hungry but the fleas could not satisfy their hunger. As rats died off, the fleas turned to humans for feeding. Cooler conditions caused the fleas to become hungrier and hungrier.
In a normally hot climate, the plague does not thrive in Africa, Africa would have been lethal breeding down for plague. Its trade networks were extensive. The Roman desire for ivory continued to fuel the trade, which would have fueled the bubonic plague. Through trade, the plague made its way to Constantinople. The impact was immediate, with thousands of people dying every day. There were no places to bury the bodies. People abandoned Constantinople bringing the plague with them.
A secondary threat was also on the move and it was causing barbarians to move. This particular group made their way to Europe. They were called the Alvars and they were the world’s most advanced writers in the world. The horse was central to their existence. Unfortunately, the Mongolian plains that they called home were impacted. They were eventually attacked by the Turks. The Turks had been ruled by the Alvars for years and now the Alvars’ fortunes have changed. How was this?
It came down to the animals the Turks and the Alvars have. The Alvars used horses extensively while the Turks had Cattle. Was this the difference? Perhaps, cows and horses digest food differently. Cows could eat a wider range of food and digested their food thoroughly. Horses did not eat a variety of food and did not digest their food as well. So when drought-hit on the Mongolian steppe, the horses could not get fed. The horses’ digestive system would have left the Alvars vulnerable to attack.
The Alvars were slaughtered and so they eventually moved across Siberia. Eventually, the horses and the people recovered and they grew into a dominant people once again. The Alvars eventually were able to blackmail the Byzantine Empire into paying them off for not attacking. The Roman Empire would eventually become unstable as a result of the plague and the Alvar invasion.
What would the volcanic eruption do to the people in the Americas? Continue to watch this episode to find out more!
This would be an excellent documentary to show in a history classroom and I would also show a clip in an animal sciences classroom.
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