Skip to content

The Ancient Worlds with Bettany Hughes: #1/7 – Alexandria The Greatest City

07/08/2019

Docuwiki

The Ancient Worlds with Bettany Hughes

Historian Bettany Hughes gives her personal take on the diverse cultures of the ancient world in this 2010 documentary series on Channel 4. The series begins with an examination of Alexandria, the city founded by Alexander the Great in 332 BC to become the world’s first global centre of culture. The programme explores Alexandria’s role as a powerhouse of science and learning, and focuses on the female mathematician, astronomer and philosopher Hypatia, the subject of the feature film Agora, starring Rachel Weisz.

The series also offers a chance to catch Hughes’s previous ancient history titles, including the 2004 documentary The Minoans, and the 2005 film Helen of Troy, in which Hughes explores the true story of the woman whose face “launched a thousand ships”. Other programmes in the series are Engineering Ancient Egypt, the three-part documentary The Spartans (which inspired the Hollywood movie 300), Athens: The Truth about Democracy, and When the Moors Ruled in Europe, Hughes’s survey of Islamic rule in Spain and Portugal.

Bettany Hughes studied History at Oxford and is currently a research fellow at King’s College London. She has produced a series of critically acclaimed history documentaries for Channel 4 and PBS in America, and her 2005 book Helen of Troy was voted a book of the year by the Independent on Sunday. She makes regular appearances on radio and contributed the film The Daughters of Eve, about the female characters of The Bible.

Alexandria The Greatest City

Three cities dominated the ancient world: Athens, Rome and a third, now almost forgotten. It lies hidden beneath the waters of the Mediterranean and a sprawling modern metropolis. Alexandria was a city built on a dream; a place with a very modern mindset, where – as with the worldwide web – one man had a vision that all knowledge on earth could be stored in one place. Bettany Hughes goes in search of this lost civilisation, revealing the story of a city founded out of the desert by Alexander the Great in 331 BC to become the world’s first global centre of culture, into which wealth and knowledge poured from across the world. Until its decline in the fourth and fifth Centuries AD, Alexandria became a crucible of learning; Hughes uncovers the incredible discoveries and the technical achievements of this culture. The film’s cast of characters reads like a list of the greatest figures of ancient times: political figures like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, and intellectuals including female mathematician, astronomer and philosopher Hypatia, Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes and Ptolemy. At last, after 1,500 years squashed under a modern metropolis, new clues are emerging from the earth to the real nature of this grand experiment in human civilisation.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: