Good morning, we are continuing our storm over Europe series. This episode features the Huns and how they were a feared group of barbarians.
This documentary recreates the face of a Visigoth man and traces his journey throughout Europe. This man found a home in Southern France. He survived many battles and changes over the years. He was a man who got away from the Huns just in time. The Huns were on the move. This caused many of the Germanic tribes to move south to Rome out of fear. The Huns struck fear in the tribes. They were always looting. The Visigoths tried to escape from them.
The Visigoths told stories about the Huns’ weapons and their appearance. They were described as two-legged animals. The only way for the Visigoths to escape was across the Danube River. They fled to Rome. Once there, they promised to become Christians. They also vowed to submit to the rule of the emperor. The emperor took mercy on the Visigoths and allowed them to stay in Rome.
Unfortunately, the Roman Empire was very weak and could not defend itself. So, therefore, the Visigoths’ arrival was fortuitous. They were warriors and could defend Rome from the Hun Menace. The Visigoths agreed to protect Rome for shelter. The Huns had come from the steppes of Asia. They had subjugated many people along their way to the march to Rome. They were the most feared warriors. They were brutal warriors on horseback. Their weapons were highly effective against their enemies. They did not touch a plow and roam the land. They stole everything they needed.
The Huns were more than what the old histories say. They submitted to powerful leaders. They were capable of wide-reaching strategic campaigns. Their weapon of choice was a bow. It was feared for its range and penetrating power. The Hun warriors were well trained in its use. It was a wonder weapon to the people who encountered them. The Huns were the people who first used saddles on their horses. They could shoot up to thirty arrows per minute.
One finds that was discovered a sacrificial cauldron was found. It quite possibly belonged to Atilla the Hun, one of the more powerful Hun Leaders. He had a grand palace near the Danube River. The Huns eventually conquered Hungary. Their enemies described them as having distorted faces with pinholes for eyes. However, the bones tell a different story. The horse-riding people of Mongolia have the same faces as the Huns.
The Ostrogoths were the first people who fell under the Huns. The Legendary Ostrogoth King committed suicide rather than face the Huns. However, his death gave the Huns over the people. The Visigoths would rather flee than submit to the Huns. More and more tribes fled from the Huns, over 100,000 people, and the exiles were welcomed into the Roman Empire.
A horde of gold belonging to the Visigoths is housed in a Romanian Museum in Bucharest. The gold is so precious it is kept under high security. The barbarians created a variety of priceless treasures, a gift for their gods in the afterlife. The Visigoths crafted a variety of eagle motifs in their goldwork. The eagle was their symbol. The Visigoths wandered for forty years before resettling in Rome. In their wanderings, they were looking for land that could support a high amount of people. The nomadic life became second nature to the Visigoths.
At the same time, other tribes were moving. The Huns drove the Vandals away and they still moved forward, raiding and looting along the way. The Vandals crossed into Africa and settled there. Despite this, due to prejudices, the Vandals were made the villains of the story. They were, like the Visigoths fighting for their survival. When they arrived in Africa, the Vandals adapted local culture and liked what they saw. They did not destroy what they found in Africa but lived in the buildings that were occupied by Romans. They put an end to gladiator combat in Africa. They respected the surroundings. To discover more about the Vandals in Africa continue to watch this documentary.
This is another excellent documentary to show in the classroom, even if it has an old-school feel to it. Just facts and not anything frivolous.
Good morning, every time I do my yearly recommendations for the following school year and every year I get to the section on the Ancient World. Every year I think, man I am really thin on ancient history documentaries I need to blog more on the ancient world. Every year I do not do it. That changes today and so I am going to do more documentaries on the Ancient World. I will kick off this exploration with the series Storm over Europe. The run time is 51:17.
Barbarians were heading to Rome. What made these barbarians leave their homelands? They left behind beautiful objects in their wake. They were in the search of a new homeland because another tribe was threatening their lives and livelihoods. Eventually, Rome was sacked. These barbarians would be left to pick up the pieces Rome left behind. Who were these invaders? Why were they called barbarians? How did they shape European history? What did they leave behind?
Germanic tribes from the north, slowly moving south. They filled the Romans with dread for two decades. The Natural History Museum in Budapest holds thousands of skulls of these barbarians. Today, one of those skulls is going to undergo facial reconstruction. What did this man look like from two thousand years ago? No matter what he looked like, friends and foes would have recognized him. What can this face tell us about him and his tribe? How did the Cimbrians make their mark in history?
The first tribe explored is the Cimbrians. The Goths and Romans hated the Cimbrians. Little is known about the ordinary people of the Cimbrians. The Cimbrians lived in the high north and it was said that the only thing that separated them was that they had limbs and a voice. They lived in Jutland, at the edge of the inhabited world. How did we learn about the Cimbrians? Why would they live on the edge of civilization?
Their bodies were found in the bogs and the bogs preserved their bodies. These bodies were discovered when peat cutters found them. The bog preserved the bodies and the clothes of the Cimbrians. It was clear from the bodies that the Cimbrians knew how to weave cloth and that their clothing was well made. They did not run around naked as the Romans believed, and in fact, they followed fashions. Today the cloth appears brown but that is due to the peat dying on the cloth. The Cimbrians used a variety of colors to dye their clothes and the colors came from nature. In fact, the dying methods are still in use.
Every Cimbrian settlement also had a blacksmith. The blacksmith had a bit of power in the village. Every village had a furnace and the blacksmith would spend time making weapons. Romans could not make better weapons than the Cimbrians. Cimbrians offered their weapons as sacrifices to the gods. They also created simple and unadorned ceramics. The bogs preserved these crafts for future generations to learn about the Cimbrians. The Cimbrians carried with them the bare essentials.
What is emerging from the Cimbrian culture is that they lived in longhouses on farmsteads. These farmsteads were fortified. Over 150 Cimbrians lived in twenty buildings. The buildings have been reconstructed based on what was found while digging. A hazel rod was found in the ground and it was clear that it was used for measuring.
What made the Cimbrians move from Denmark? Was it a flood? Or was it famine? The Roman historians report that the Cimbrians lived a hand-to-mouth existence. There was no tradition of storing food for the future. In good years, the Cimbrians barely starved but when there were lean years many died. Through word of mouth, the Cimbrians heard about lands further south to a land where there was plenty of food and furs did not need to be worn in the winter. It was then they decided to move. To learn more about the Cimbrian migration continue to watch this documentary.
There is an old-school feel to this documentary, it does not make much fuss about the subjects in the documentary. It is unlike the other documentaries that I have reviewed and watched over the past few years. This would be a documentary to show to a middle school history classroom mainly because it is really unfussy.
Good morning! Thirty-One Days of Time Team continues with a look at the history of Ffrith, Wales. Time Team looks at mysterious bathhouse that might not be a bathhouse.
Back in the 1960s some local archeologists dug some trenches and discovered a series of walls, pot, and Roman coins. Ffrith was the center of Roman occupation in Wales and for decades Roman finds have been discovered. Did these archeologists find a Roman Bathhouse? The Locals want the Time Team to dig the site again to see what is. Is it a Roman bath? Why is it there? Time Team has three days to find out.
The Time Team will dig in the previous trenches. Tony asks if it is good archeology to re-excavate the original trenches to see what was found. The first step for the Time Team is to map out potential walls based on the original dig. To the homeowner’s relief, there will be no digging under the greenhouse. Trench one goes in in the back garden and a second trench will go in an area behind the fence next door. The results indicate that there are hints of a curved wall underneath.
The second trench immediately reveals results: there is a stone wall. The fence between the two gardens is taken down. Mick and Tony meet up with John Gater and they look at older geophysics results. The Time Team is turning their attention to a playing field. It was a scheduled monument because of the Roman finds on the site. The authorities have permitted them to dig it. Geophysics will resurvey the area.
The earlier finds have been fantastic. Some tiles were used to heat bathhouses and pottery found. Time Team will look at these earlier finds to see what they can tell the Time Team. Tony takes a look at some pieces from Roman armor and beads. There were also wall plaster and hairpins found. These are tantalizing hints at what the building was.
On day one the skies open up and rain starts. The dig continues, while the other Time Team members look at archival materials and draw up pan interpretation as to what the bathhouse looks like. Trench number three goes in, and stones are found. What were these stones? The stones are unshaped. Will the third trench yield any finds, continue to watch this episode to find out.
Mick and Tony go back to Trench One and Trench Two for a catch-up. There were bits of stone and modern rubbish. Phil is on top of the curved wall, and he shows a picture of the site in the 1960s. The trench will be expanded, and this expansion should yield some new finds. Was this site Roman? Tony catches up with Historian David Mason to learn more about the Roman occupation of Ffrith.
Time Team does a catch-up in the pub. The lack of finds is worrying Tony. In the larger trench in the field, there will be an inspection trench dug to see if it is worth digging. Tony then asks to fill about the curved wall. Phil teases Tony about it not being a curved wall. Is the wall straight, curved, or squiggly? Tune into the rest of the Time Team to find more about the wall. Is the Time Team going to discover a bathhouse? Or are they just going to discover a fenced-in field?
This was a funnier Time Team because of how everyone at the start was mistaken about the site is a bathhouse. Phil was hysterical teasing Tony throughout the episode. This would be one episode to show in a history classroom for a fun day.
We are continuing with our fall edition of Thirty-One Days of Time Team with a flashback to season two.
Why is there a pagan figure buried in a church? Time Team is on the case! They are in the heart of the Wiltshire countryside and the Time Team is here to solve a riddle. There were no known Roman Rules in the area, except for this figure in a church. Victor Ambrus sketches it while Tony reads an explanation for the statue. Why is this statue on the wall? Was this the site of an earlier pagan settlement? You do not want to miss this episode of the Time Team.
The Time Team begins taking core samples of the ground surrounding the church and will do geophysics of the site. Will there be walls found on the site? Did the Romans build something on an earlier site? Was this site considered a holy site to the pagan people? Was this a sacred spring? There could be years of ritual history buried in the pond?
The Time Team heads to the archives. Carenza discovers that there was a possible Roman site in the village and immediately tells Tony the good news. Maybe the Time Team will have to search to a field outside the village. In the field, there were Roman tiles discovered. Will the Time Team be on the verge of discovering a temple? Tony catches up with Robin and Victor to explore the possibilities of what this temple looked like.
One local farm discovered Roman remains while plowing. He meets up with Carenza to field walk. He would like to know more in order to not damage any additional finds. Carenza is convinced that there is something in the field and rushes to get the geophysics team. They have to finish up with the church before they go to the field. Tony and Robin catch up and examine maps of the field over the decades. Robin wants to come up with a master plan of the area to hand over to future generations. The geophysics team starts working in the field.
Mick and Tony then meet up with an expert in Roman Statues to see what the statue was that is embedded in a church wall. Did this statue come from a temple? Or was this statue found in a household? Does this seem to change things for the Time Team? The Geophysics results on the field are showing promise. There was something in the field. So, the Time Team view the evidence that was found by the farmers. Masonry, wall plaster, roofing tiles, and coins were discovered in the field.
The geophysics team will work late into the night to map the field. The Time Team gathers and discusses what was found. Mick believes that there is a villa on the site. Day Two kicks off with the geophysics results. This is the moment of truth for the Time Team and the results are good. There is evidence of ditches and squares hinting at a massive complex underneath. It is clear that something is in the field. More results are coming in and it looks like there was a potential villa on the site. It would the first villa found in the area. The Time Team now faces some challenges before they start to dig. Will Time Team find a villa in the ground? Tune into the rest of this episode to find out!
This would be an excellent episode to show for a history class. There was a good debate on whether or not they should dig the site because of the geophysics results which could lead to some good discussions about archeology.
Mary Beard is back and this time she is introducing the world to the Romans. She explores the lives of everyday Romans. Both the living and the dead are explored, from the poorest to the richest. Beard seeks out the ordinary voices. They were determined that they would be remembered. Their tombstones did not just leave behind the birth and dates of the Roman, but their thoughts and feelings. How did ordinary Romans think? Tune into this documentary to find out.
In the first episode, Mary Beard looks at Imperial Rome. Imperial Rome was a place that where people came from everyone to live. New arrivals would have found themselves in a new type of city. Rome was the capital of a vast empire. People from three continents came together here and lived. So who were the ordinary people who called Rome home?
Mary Beard kicks off the episode by going to a triumph. Emperor Vespasian had returned to Rome, a victorious general. Everyone had the day off to greet the conquering hero. What would it have been like for the ordinary Romans to take in the site? First, they would have seen the spoils of war, models of fighting, trees, and maps of the conquering territory. What would have been on the minds of ordinary Romans? Perhaps a viewer would have picked up a girl while watching the spectacle before them.
Beard looks at the plaques everyone left behind. These plaques highlight where the people came from. These plaques tell the story of ordinary Romans and tell the story of where the people came from. The Appian Way highlights additional stories of the Romans. Beard comes across a stone with the names of three Jewish men. How did these men get to Rome? Were they part of the Judean rebellion? Were they brought as slaves? Roman conquests may have brought slaves, but they also brought new citizens.
The Greeks thought that the Romans were strange for freeing so many slaves. Being a slave was just a part of life. Oftentimes, the slave learned Latin and learned a trade. Eventually, the master would free them and the slave would be a Roman citizen. A Roman was a Roman because they came from something else. There was no guarantee that you would survive. With a high death rate, the city needed immigration to maintain its size. Roman was a place that consumed people, however, it was also a city for the opportunity. How do you keep the people alive?
Beard takes us to a hill outside of Roman. This particular hill was made up of broken amphora. The amphora was used to store olive oil. The present-day locals call it “broken pot mountain” and it was a giant rubbish dump. Normally, amphora could be recycled. However, olive oil seeped into the jars and made the jars rancid. They were broken up and stacked in the rubbish dump. Rome ran on olive oil. It was used for cooking and fuel.
Mary then reveals that there were fifty mosaics discovered, and these mosaics advertised goods from around the world. Roman had imported basic supplies to fee the city and to support a large population. Farms in Sicily and Egypt had to produce grain. The empire kept feeding the people. A staple of the Roman diet was bread. Here Mary gets her hands dirty kneading bread. If you lived in Roman, you got a free ration from the state and it could make enough bread to last a month. To continue to learn more about the Romans watch this documentary.
This would be a good series for a high school history class. Mary Beard is a delightful narrator. She lays out what it means to be a Roman in this first episode of Meet the Romans.
The history of Europe was marked by centuries of war. Each century there were bloody conflicts. Ultimately, the conflict finally exploded and cost millions of lives. It is crazy to think that one event could have lead to this history. That seems to be the case. Few Europeans remember the battle, but the Romans would never forget. It was a conflict that divided chunks of Europe. It was imprinted in European consciousness for centuries. The conflict Europe endured can be traced to one place: Teutoburg Forest. It was here that the Germanic tribes massacred a legion of Roman soldiers.
Germanicus came to the site because he wanted revenge. What he found shocked him deeply. The forest ground was littered with the bodies of Roman soldiers. Three Roman legions were wiped out by the Germanic tribes. Rome was the most technologically advanced armies in the world and they were massacred by barbarians. Germanicus had to take care of the dead. He had no time to waste. He quickly buried the dead men’s bones. The soldiers' grim task was to bury everyone. The soldiers did not know whether or not they were burying friend or foe or animals. They just had to get this job done. Six years after the battle, the remains were finally buried.
For 2000 years the Teutoburg Forest kept its secrets. It devastated the Roman Emperor. He would frequently send patrols to the area. He went into mourning for the lost legions. Emperor Augustus wanted his rule to be a successful one. The Teutoburg Forest massacre was the one blight on his reign.
The Romans did not believe that such a world existed. They had taken over previously established empires such as Carthage and Egypt. These empires had laws and taxes in place, so they could easily be absorbed into the Roman Empire. The Roman expansion into the Germanic territories would become different. These tribes were not united by one king. They had no established laws or taxes. The Romans tried to bribe and set the tribes against each other.
To conquer the Germanic tribes, Varus was sent. Varus was no general. He was a lawyer who married into the Emperor’s family. Both Varus and the Emperor were determined to make the Germanic territories into another Roman province. In 9 AD, Varus and the legions left for the Germanic interior. They wanted to Romanize the Germanic tribes. Varus would use the army to do it.
The Roman governor at the time treated the Germanic tribes as slaves. The Romans leveled taxes on the Germanic people. One particular governor was noted for his cruelty and his greed. He knew the law but not common sense. This caused resentment amongst the Germans. While the Romans ruled the Germanic territories, the Germans were biding their time. They prepared their weapons and waited. As Varus marched through the Germanic territories he was protected by a group of Germanic soldiers.
Arminius, one of the Germans, was raised as a Roman. He was a member of the royal family. He had Roman citizenship. Arminius’ encounters with Varus made him rethink his position in the new Roman world. He witnessed Varus’ stupidity and started to plan. He slowly and carefully started to unite the Germanic tribes. That was a challenge because the Germanic tribes did not trust each other. However, to throw off the Roman yoke the Germanic tribes started to work together.
To find out what happened next continue to watch the documentary.
Downton Abbey’s Jim Carter narrates the Teutoburg Forest story. This is a good documentary for research purposes. You can take clips from this documentary for a lecture. If there is an independent study student, then you can recommend this documentary.
You can access the YouTube video here.
One summer treat is ice cream, so why not do a Time Team about the Ice Cream Villa? The Time Team examines a site near an ice cream factory. Tony Robinson introduces the ice cream-making amateur archeologists who believe they discovered a Roman villa in a nearby field. Lloyd Wix, one of the ice cream scientists, talks about what they are finding in the field. Tony jokes that they have a week to explore the field, in reality, it is three days.
Over the years, there have been plenty of Roman Era finds. The aerial photographs are showing something in the ground. This site was producing Roman finds for decades. There was something present on the site. The geophysics team goes out on the site.
Typically, Roman villas were built in a U-shape. The main house was in the middle of the U was flanked by side rooms. The foundations of the Ice Cream Villa should give the geophysics team something to find. Unfortunately, the building that should be found easily is proving to be a challenge. The results are showing a bunch of noise in the ground. Stewart Ainsworth, a landscape archeologist, questions why a villa would be built where it was.
In the meantime, Tony examines the finds that have come out of the field. They have found over a ton of Roman material. Helen Geake and Philipa Walton are examining the artifacts that were discovered. There were pieces of jewelry and a lot of coins found. It was the largest discovery of Roman coins in the countryside.
Phil Harding digs out a test pit. Geophysics is proving to be a challenge for everyone. The results are confusing. Tony discusses how closely the field was examined. So Time Team had no option but to dig a test trench. They are making quite a few discoveries in the trench. They open up a second trench to look for a ditch. Then a third trench is opened. The first day is proving to be a disappointment. Tony, Lloyd, and a geophysicist go over the map that Lloyd created of the field.
With Lloyd’s map, they extend trench three. It was the spot where Lloyd and his team found a high amount of archelogy. They are finding more archeology in the trench. Stewart looks for the roads that would have connected the villa to the main roads. He eventually finds the road that connected the villa to the main road. They add a fourth trench based on what the local archeologists discussed. Everything has gone wrong with this dig. The Time Team is not finding a building.
To continue to learn more about the mysterious Ice Cream Villa, continue to watch the episode.
This is a humorous episode. It almost seemed it was anarchy on the field. There were parts of it you could hear Tony’s exasperated voice. At the start, the archeologists and geophysics team are frustrated with the results they are getting. Almost everything was exclaimed with “you haven’t found the villa.” Everyone was convinced that there was a villa in the field. However, they could not find a building on the field. They found evidence of life, but not the house that the life was lived at.
This episode can be shown in both history and science classrooms. For a science classroom, it could prompt discussion on why the scientific method fails or why the tools could fail. Everything could go wrong with this dig, went wrong with this dig. It would be a good example of why things fail, despite overwhelming evidence. The evidence the Time Team was finding was confusing.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
Episode 4 concludes with the fall of the Roman Empire. Mary Beard finds herself walking under the remains of a gatehouse in Germany. Rome was built to last but did not. The decline and fall of the Roman Empire have been on historian’s minds. It is a puzzle. Was it inflation? Was it corruption? Was it barbarian invasions? Was it the lead in pipes? It is a complicated question with no single answer.
Mary finds herself in Northumberland. It is here she starts answering the question “Why did the Roman Empire fall?” She walks along Hadrian's Wall and talks about the fringes of the Empire. Northern Britain/Scotland was a challenge for the Romans. So, rather than deal with the barbarians, they built a wall. Hadrian's Wall is a statement: a statement of Roman power and the Empire has boundaries. The wall demonstrates that the wall has an edge; has a boundary. It was the first time that the Empire was mapped.
The wall kept the barbarians out and entices the people in. Everyone on the wall was a citizen, everyone outside the wall was an outsider. It was turned the empire inside out. Decisions came from the fringes of the empire rather than the center of power: Rome. Emperors received their support from the legions and were deposed by supporters of the next emperor. These emperors only had enough time to put up a statue before being deposed. The propaganda that surrounded the emperors undermined them. It showed how sick the system was.
The Romans tried to reinvent the Empire. They hoped to restore order. They divided the empire into four mini empires, administered by four emperors, and from four mini capital cities. It made the empire manageable and the new cities became administrative centers. With decisions made in the mini capitals, Rome was no longer the center of the Empire. Trier demonstrates that Rome was no longer the center of the Empire. The grand church where the Emperors ruled from rivaled what could be built in Rome.
Another thing that undermined the Roman Empire was the changing beliefs of the people. The Romans believed in many gods. Each of these gods functioned in many different ways. As a result, the Roman landscape is littered with temples. Generals often made promises to their particular in exchange for victory. These promises resulted in the building of a temple once the victorious general returned home. When the temple was built, it was a demonstration to the people of the gods’ favor. It was a demonstration that you needed to keep god’s favor on your side.
The Romans inhabited a world of gods. Mary shows off a collection of figurines of the various gods. It showed religion on a personal level. A Roman could put a god in their pockets and take it with them. Gods did not have one job to do like Venus was only the god of love. A Roman could appeal to a variety of gods for their needs. For example, a Roman could choose to pray to Minerva, Neptune, Hades, or Mercury when they planned on going on a sea voyage. Each god could be approached for a variety of needs. It was a flexible system. Romans could create their religious world.
As the Empire grew, new religions were introduced to Roman life. Some of these religious would challenge the Roman’s religious beliefs.
To continue to learn more about Rome’s fall, continue to watch the documentary.
I rather liked the discussion that Mary had on the various gods Romans worship. This discussion would be a good clip to use in an English class when students are learning about mythology. Roman mythology was not straight forward as you were taught in school.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
Episode 3 finds Mary in a museum examining the skulls of Romans. She then discusses the stereotypes we have of Romans. Romans were from Italy and they wore togas. However, the Roman Mary was examining was from York, England. She was a woman and was of mixed race. Who were the Romans? What did it mean to be a Roman? Beard examines the one invisible factor that made people Romans: their citizenship. What difference did it make to become a Roman? How did you become one?
Beard goes to an industrial site to find a treasure, a small Roman settlement off the beaten tourist track. Carteia looked like an ordinary settlement. It was founded in 171 BC. It was established by descendants of Roman soldiers and Spanish women. They were stateless. They appealed to Rome for something. The Roman politicians gave them Carteia and more importantly, they gave them citizenship. This established a precedent. It was a unique part of the Roman Empire. Now, every free person could become a Roman citizen.
The idea that outsiders could become citizens was radical. It was downright shocking at the time. However, it was the way that Romans brought people into the empire. They did not make people worship the Roman gods, use the Roman calendar or learn Latin. Roman citizenship was a gift. They initially gave citizenship to the elites. Roman citizenship was a gift. This spread to the people and it had its advantages. It protected you legally, it gave you a stake in politics, and you could never be crucified. It was similar to the American dream and it was something people could aspire to. Was it a happy accident or a deliberate plan? There is no evidence either way.
Algeria is an area of the old Roman Empire where the most impressive Roman remains are found. When Algeria was conquered the Romans surprised the local population. They then built cities to further establish the empire. Timgad was built for retired Roman soldiers. It was built in a typical Roman town planning style. Mary is so familiar with the layout, she can find her way easily around town. She discovers the city library. Even though Timgad was a city for retired Roman soldiers, the population and the city expanded. Roman soldiers mixed with the local people. They were committed to Romans and demonstrated this through monument building and their culture. However, these citizens never stepped foot inside Rome.
Being Roman meant belonging. By offering citizenship to the local elites, Romans could get them on their side. The local elites could enforce Roman law on the lower orders. They could also bring Roman culture to the people. These elites embraced their roles in furthering the empire. Mary then traces the story of an Algerian man and his travels. He traveled to Judea as part of the army. He eventually made his way to Britain and was a governor. He was a provincial who became Roman and eventually ruled other provincials.
Britain was territory unknown. It was highly attractive to the Romans as an island to explore. As they explored, stories started to spread about the island. The people had odd customs. It was always cold. It was another world, Mary says to the Romans, going to Britain was the equivalent of going into space…
If you want to learn more about this episode continue to watch.
Mary Beard continues to narrate the story of the Roman Empire. I was surprised to learn that there were some impressive Roman ruins in Algeria. This episode is a good summary of how citizenship united the Romans. It is also a good explanation of Roman citizenship.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
Mary Beard continues her journey through the Roman Empire in Episode 2 of Empire Without Limit. She kicks off the episode talking about Roman rubbish. Ancient Roman trash shows how the Roman Empire worked. The trash heaps show this as much as the ruins of temples.
One leftover from the Roman world comes from ice core samples taken from Arctic ice sheets. The ice core samples from Rome show the impact the empire had an impact on the environment. There was plenty of burning in the Roman Empire and it ties into Roman expansion. It was a shock to the scientists, however, to the historians it showed proof that industry was growing in Rome. It was Roman history melting in Mary’s hands.
Rome transformed the world through conquest. Romans built roads as they conquered the world. There is a road in France that links Spain and France to Rome. It was a shocking idea, that a Roman could start in Rome and end up in Spain or Greece by staying on a single road. These roads eventually spread out like veins in a body and connected the empire.
Even with the roads, the people in the countryside continued life as they did. However, where the roads linked up with cities there were plenty of changes. Beard delightfully describes a cup that describes the Roman routes. Was it a souvenir cup? Perhaps so, it was something that a person could bring with them on their travels and keep track of their progress.
Rome also built plenty of cities, they built aqueducts to provide the cities with drinking water. They built bridges. The building the Romans did demonstrate their power. Beard shares a Medieval Roman map with tourists. It was how the Romans saw their empire. The map might be small, but it demonstrates that the world was joined up. “All roads lead to Rome,” is a true phrase.
Mary Beard spends this episode in Spain and explores what flowed out of Spain to fueled the empire. It was during this time that Spain became an olive farm. Seven million liters of olive oil flowed from Spain to Rome. The Empire ran on olive oil. It was used in cooking, lighting, and soap making. Beard takes a tour of a Spanish olive farm. Olive oil was a job creator: there were growers, pickers, pressers, container makers, etc. It is interesting to see that Rome was an “oil economy.” While oil flowed into Rome, money flowed into Spain.
The money would fuel the political careers of Spanish Romans. Did Emperor Hadrian get his wealth from olive oil? Perhaps he did? It allowed him to fund buildings back in his hometown. He was showing off his wealth by doing all this building.
On top of stamping Roman influence through buildings, Ancient Romans stamped their authorities through laws. Beard shows up tablets that tell the people how to be a Roman city. These tablets governed that officials needed to provide entertainment for the people, how long defendants could speak during their trial, the seating arrangements in a public space, and how much could be spent on an election. Some of these rules seem familiar to us. However, it was micromanagement on a grand scale. Roman officials were micromanagers.
To continue to learn more about Rome and the empire continue to watch the documentary.
Beard continues her delightful narration as well as her travels around the former Roman Empire in Episode 2. She draws you into the store of the Roman Empire and keeps you engaged through the episode.
You can access the YouTube Video here.
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