This page highlights dramas and documentaries about ancient civilisations that have been shown on British TV.
10 Nov - 15 Dec 2010 / BBC2.
Documentary series looking at all aspects of ancient civilisations from Ancient Iraq to Imperial Rome: (1) Come Together - the roots of civilisation in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Anatolia and Greece (2) The Age of Iron (3) The Greek Thing (4) Return of the King (Alexander the Great) (5) The Republic of Virtue (Ancient Rome I) (6) City of Man, City of God (Ancient Rome II).
Presented by Richard Miles.
ANCIENT WORLDS WITH BETTANY HUGHES
2004-11 (10 parts) / More 4, Channel 4.
Watchable and informative history documentary series. Episodes: (1) The Minoans. (2) Athens: The Truth About Democracy (2 pts). (3) Engineering Ancient Egypt. (4) Helen of Troy. (5) The Spartans (3 pts). (6) Alexandria: The Greatest City. (7) When the Moors ruled Europe.
Written and presented by Bettany Hughes (see indiviual episodes below for details).
8 May 2011 / BBC1.
Writer: Rhidian Brook / Director: Tony Mitchell.
Disappointing CGI-based drama-documentary about the gigantic volcanic eruption in the Aegean sea that devastated the Isle of Thera and the Minoan civilisation on nearby Crete. Could this have been the origin of the Atlantis legend? Narrated by Tom Conti.
ATLANTIS: THE EVIDENCE
2 June 2010 / BBC2 ("Timewatch").
Well-made and involving documentary proposing that the legend of Atlantis and its final inundation was based on an actual historical event - an earthquake and tidal wave that devastated the islands of Thera and Crete, severely weakening the Minoan civilisation.
Presented by Bettany Hughes.
Also see under "Romans"
BRITAIN'S STONE AGE TSUNAMI
30 May 2013 / Channel 4.
Documentary about a tidal wave that swept the east coast of Britain 8000 years ago, and a look at the mesolithic communities that inhabited Doggerland, the huge area of land that linked the country to the rest of "Europe".
Presented by Tony Robinson.
A HISTORY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN
9 Feb - 2 Mar 2010 (4x60 mins) /BBC2.
Documentary series exploring the lives of the early inhabitants of Britain, from early Neanderthal man onwards. Episodes: (1) Age of Ice (2) Age of ancestors (3) Age of cosmology (4). Age of Bronze.
Written and presented by Neil Oliver.
A HISTORY OF CELTIC BRITAIN
Mar - Apr 2010 (4x60 mins) /BBC2.
Documentary series continuing from where "A History of Ancient Britain" left off, and guiding us through the Iron Age to the period of the Roman occupation: (1) Age of iron (2) Age of warriors (3) Age of invasion (4) Age of Romans.
Written and presented by Neil Oliver.
OPERATION STONEHENGE: WHAT LIES BENEATH
11-18 Sep 2014 (2x60 mins) /BBC2.
Documentary about Britain's most well-known prehistoric monument highlighting the latest research into the origin and purpose of the site. Including the discovery of a new buried structures, how the stones were transported, design principles and what it looked like in its heyday.
ORKNEY'S STONE TEMPLE (A HISTORY OF ANCIENT BRITAIN)
1 Jan 2012 (60 mins) /BBC2.
A vast site on the isle of Orkney is the location of a 5000-year old temple. Many important artefacts have also been uncovered and the program uses CGI to recreate how the temple might have looked in ancient times.
Written and presented by Neil Oliver.
SACRED WONDERS OF BRITAIN
30 Dec 2013 - 30 Jan 2014 (3 x 60 mins) / BBC2.
Documentary series exploring pagan spirituality in ancient Britain through its millenia-old monuments. Presented by Neil Oliver.
STORIES FROM THE DARK EARTH: MEET THE ANCESTORS REVISITED
1–22 May 2013 / BBC4.
Documentary series higlighting aspects of ancient Britain: (1) Pagans of Roman Britain (2) Families of the Stone Age. (3) Sacred Women of the Iron Age. (4) The First Anglo-Saxons.
1994 - Date / Channel 4
The hands-on archaeology series has included several programs featuring ancient Briton sites:
7 Jan 1996: Cornwall. A 2000 year old Iron Age underground chamber - a fogou - is the object of a dig in the west of Cornwall.
11 Jan 1998: Grevlake. A dig for an Iron-age settlement in Somerset.
24 Jan 1999: Cheddar Gorge. A dig for evidence of Palaeolithic human activity in Somerset.
7 Mar 1999: Kemerton, Worcestershire. An Iron-age settlement.
2000: Elveden. Excavation for an early Stone age site at a holiday camp in Suffolk.
2000: Flag Fen. Excavation for evidence of a bronze age settlement in Cambridgeshire.
2001: An Iron-Age Roundhouse on Salisbury Plain. Excavation of a site potentially containing evidence of Iron Age and Roman habitation.
2001: The Bone Cave, Alveston, Gloucestershire. Excavation of an underground chamber containing human and animal bones, and pottery.
2001: The Mystery of Mine Howe, Orkney. Excavation of a prehistoric man-made chamber discovered by a local farmer in 199 on the isle of Orkney.
2002: Iron-Age Market, Helford. Dig at what were thought to be Iron'age hill-forts in Cornwall.
2002: A Prehistoric Airfield, Throckmorton. The team investigates a disused RAF airfield which looks as if it may be the site of an ancient Briton settlement.
2003: Peak District. Excavation of the site of a find of human bones in an underground cave in Derbyshire.
2003: Rescuing the Dead, Leven, Fife. Excavation of a Bronze-age cemetery in Scotland.
2004: The Crannog in the Loch, Loch Migdale. Excavation of a prehistoric site on the shores of a loch in Scotland.
2004: An Iron-Age Trading Centre, Green Island. Excavation of an important Iron-age port on an island in Poole Harbour, Hampshire.
2004: Human Footprints on a Mesolithic Foreshore, Goldcliff. Stone-age artefacts are uncovered on the shore of the river Severn.
2004: From Iron-Age Rubbish Pits to a Roman Villa, Wittenham . Dig near an Iron-age hillfort in Oxfordshire.
2004: A Neolithic Cathedral? Northborough, Peterborough. Dig for stone-age remains in the Cambridgeshire fens.
2006: Sussex Ups and Downs, Blackpatch, Sussex. A search for a stone-age village hear Worthing.
2006: Scotch Broth, Applecross, Near Skye. A dig at the site of an Iron-age structure in north-west Scotland.
2007: In the Shadow of the Tor, Bodmin Moor, Cornwall. The latest scientific techniques are used to investigate the area around Rough Tor.
2008: Bodies in the Dunes, Outer Hebrides. Iron and bronze-age structures are revealed at Allasdale on the isle of Barra.
2008: From Constantinople to Cornwall, Padstow, North Cornwall. The team uncover evidence of a Romano-British settlement near the coast of Cornwall.
2009: Beacon of the Fens: Warboys, The Fens: A dig on a site in Norfolk which has yielded stone-age flints in the past.
2009: Heroes' Hill: Knockdhu, Co Antrim: An excavation of prehistoric defensive banks and ditches in Northern Ireland.
1 Jun 2009: The Secrets of Stonehenge: The latest excavations and archaeological research reveals a possible explanation for why Stonehenge was constructed in the first place.
7 Nov 2010: Commanding Heights: Dinmore Herefordshire: A dig for a vast Iron Age fort on Dinmore Hill.
6 Feb 2011: Reservoir Rituals: An excavation of the site of a newly drained reservoir on Dartmoor - exposing an ancient stone circle and other structures for the first time.
4 May 2011: Boudicca's Lost Tribe: The Story of the ancient Briton's famous warrior Queen. New information about the Iceni tribe is coming from an excavation at Caistor St. Edmund in Norfolk.
13 Jan 2013: A Capital Hill: An extensive and important early iron-age site on a hill near Cardiff.
27 Jan 2013: The Warriors: A Bronze Age burial site on Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire.
Presented by Tony Robinson.
Time Team Website
27 Sep 2008 (60 mins) / BBC2.
New archaeological research suggests that the UK's most famous ancient monument may have been a place where people came for healing.
Stonehenge (Open University).
ALEXANDRIA: THE GREATEST CITY
9 Apr 2011 / More 4 ("Ancient Worlds with Bettany Hughes").
Documentary about one of the three great cities of the ancient world – alongside Rome and Athens. Presented by Bettany Hughes.
13 Nov - 4 Dec 2003 (4 x 50 mins) /
Big budget drama-documentary series using extensive computer graphics to bring to life events from ancient Egyptian history:
(1) The Battle of Megiddo, (2) Tomb Robbers, (3) Murder in the Temple, (4) The Twins.
There is an accompanying book, "Ancient Egyptians" by Anthony Gill.
Ancient Egyptians (Channel 4).
ANCIENT EGYPT: LIFE AND DEATH IN THE VALLEY OF THE KINGS
22 & 29 Mar 2013 (2x60 mins) / BBC2.
Part 1 of this documentary focuses on the everyday lives of ancient Egyptians as revealed by their artefacts and buildings - particularly the finds associated with the tomb of architect Kha and his wife Merit. Part 2 looks at their preparations for death and beliefs in the afterlife. Presented by Dr. Joann Fletcher.
THE BLACK PHARAOHS
22 Oct 2004 (50 mins)/ BBC2
Documentary about the work of Dr. Viv Davies who claims that Ancient Egypt was under the rule of "black Pharaohs" from the province of Nubia around the year 800 BC.
2001 (100 mins) / Channel 4
Director: Nick Godwin / Producer: Emma Willis
Fine drama-documentary about the illustrious queen of Egypt, Cleopatra VII (r. 51-30 BC). Intelligent and astute, her fate was ultimately bound up with that of the powerful Roman empire, and its leading figures, Julius Caesar and Mark Anthony, both of whom fathered children by her. She committed suicide in 30 B.C., having suffered a decisive military reverse (with ally Mark Anthony) the previous year at the Battle of Actium.
CLEOPATRA: PORTRAIT OF A KILLER
1 July 2013 / BBC4.
Drama-Documentary about the way Cleopatra ruthlessly eliminated rivals to the throne with the help of her Roman allies. One victim was her sister Arsinoe who was initially exiled to Ephesus – in present day Turkey – then murdered by agents of the Queen.
19 Jan - 9 Mar 1983 (8 x 50 mins)
Writer: Philip Mackie / Producer: Guy Slater
Period drama series, set in Ancient Egypt, about the lives of the various Cleopatras who ruled during the Ptolemaic period from 145 - 35 BC.
With:- MICHELLE NEWELL as Cleopatra, CHRISTOPHER NEAME as Mark Antony, ROBERT HARDY as Julius Caesar.
DEATH ON THE NILE - ANCIENT APOCALYPSE
26 July 2001 / BBC2 ("Ancient
Producer: Jessica Cecil.
Documentary exploring the collapse of the ancient Egyptian "Old Kingdom" after a thousand years of relative stability. Recent research suggests that climate change and ensuing famine were the cause.
Presented by Prof. Fekri Hassan.
30 October - 4 Dec 2005 (6 x 60 min) /
Producer: Paul Bradshaw
Drama-documentary series focusing on the acheivements of three prominent Egyptologists: (1) Howard Carter's discovery of the tomb of Tutunkhamun, (2) the finds of Belzoni from the reign of Rameses II, and (3) Champollion's work on Hieroglyphics. Accompanying book by Joyce A. Tyldesley.
With: STUART GRAHAM as Howard Carter, MATTHEW KELLY as Giovanni Belzoni, ELLIOT COWAN as Champollion.
EGYPT ("GREAT CIVILISATIONS")
200? / Channel 4
Documentary about Ancient Egypt featuring computer-generated reconstructions, and highlighting the influence of the great river Nile in the empire's rise.
EGYPTIAN JOURNEYS WITH DAN CRUICKSHANK
30 October 2005 (6 x 30 mins) /
Writer & Presenter: Dan Cruickshank.
Documentary series in which the presenter travels around Egypt exploring aspects of the history of the land of the Pharaohs:
1. The secrets of the tomb builders. Exploring the valley of the Kings.
2. The Pharaoh Hunter. Howard carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutunkhamun.
3. The rebel Pharaoh. Akhenaten.
4. Building for Eternity.
5. Pharaohs' wives.
6. The Mysterious end of Egypt.
Egyptian Journeys (WIKI).
EGYPT'S GOLDEN EMPIRE
4 - 18 November 2001 (3
parts) / BBC2 (PBS).
Documentary series about Ancient Egypt using the diaries, poems and letters of people who lived in the New Kingdom:
1. The Warrior Pharaohs.
2. Pharaohs of the Sun. Akhenaten.
3. The Last Great Pharaoh. Rameses the Great.
Egypt's Golden Empire (PBS).
EGYPT'S LOST CITY
3 Apr 1999 (50 mins) / BBC2.
Producer: Jean Claude Bragerd / Exec. Producer: Richard Denton.
Documentary about the short-lived ancient Egyptian capital city at El-Amarna founded by the radical Pharaoh Akhenaten.
Presented by Tony Spawforth.
EGYPT'S LOST CITIES
30 May 2011 (90 mins) / BBC1.
Producer/Director: Harvey Lilley.
Documentary about the ancient Egyptian cities (such as Tanis), temples and pyramids which, although buried under the sand, are being uncovered by the latest satellite technology. Featuring on-location footage and excellent CGI recreations.
Presented by Liz Bonnin and Dallas Campbell.
EGYPT'S LOST QUEEN
26 Aug & 2 Sep 2010 / Channel 5.
2-part documentary about Hatshepsut, who had herself crowned as a female pharaoh of Egypt over 3000 years ago, and the modern-day search for her mummy.
EGYPT'S WARRIOR KING
11 June 2011 (60 mins) / More4.
Documentary about Thutmosis III, famous for his many military campaigns.
ENGINEERING ANCIENT EGYPT
31 Sep 2008 (120 mins) / More4.
Documentary about architectural and engineering projects in the reigns of the pharaohs Khufu and Ramesses II.
KARNAK - A HIDDEN HISTORY
14 Jan 1996 (50 mins) / BBC2 ("Timewatch")
Some of the world's top modellers get together to recreate the great ancient Egyptian temple complex of Karnak in Luxor - reputed to have originally taken 80,000 workmen over 2000 years to build.
KING TUT - THE FACE OF TUTANKHAMUN
27 Nov - 18 Dec 1993 (4 parts) / BBC2 ("Timewatch")
Writer and Narrator: Christopher Frayling.
Documentary series about the life of Howard Carter, his discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun, its cultural impact on the world and the legendary curse which was supposed to have affected the tomb's finders. Episodes: (1) The Great Adventure (2) Wonderful Things (3) The Pharaoh Awakes (4) Heads in the Sand - 1968.
THE LOST PYRAMID
29 Dec 2008 / Channel 4
Story of the excavation of the highest pyramid at Giza, originally commissioned by the 4th-dynasty Pharaoh, Djedefra.
MAGIC OF THE MUMMIES
/ Channel 4.
Drama-documentary exploring the ancient Egyptian's belief in the power of magic. An episode in the ten-part "Divine Magic" series".
MATHS THROUGH HISTORY: THE EGYPTIANS
? / Channel 4 ("Schools").
An episode of the "Eureka" series for schools, mainly filmed at The Tutunkhamun Exhibition.
MUMMY: THE INSIDE STORY
12 Dec 2004 / Channel 5
The story of the mummy Nesperennub, now found in the British Museum.
PHAROAHS AND KINGS
Sep 1995 (3 x 60 mins) / C4 (Soul Purpose
Producer & Director: Timothy Copestake / Exec. Producer William Cran.
Documentary exploring the construction methods of the ancient Egyptians. Based on the book, "A Test of Time" by David M. Rohl.
THE PHARAOH'S LOST CITY (TIMEWATCH)
26 Jan 2007 / BBC2 ("Timewatch")
Producer : John Hayes-Fisher.
Absorbing documentary bringing to light new information about the radical Pharaoh Akhenaten and his short-lived new capital, Amarna. Supported by Computer generated images of the city and dramatic reconstructions.
Narrated by Michael Praed.
The Pharaoh's Lost City (Open University).
THE PHARAOH WHO CONQUERED THE SEA
6 Jan 2007 (60 mins) / BBC4.
Archaeologists try to recreate an ancient Egyptian sea voyage to the fabled land of Punt, using a replica of the original ship - one of a fleet under the command of Queen Hatshepsut.
PRIVATE LIVES OF THE PHARAOHS
200? (3 pts) / Channel 4.
Documentary series about how the latest scientific techniques are shedding light on various aspects of ancient Egyptian life and culture:
1. The Fall of the House of Tutunkhamun: Why did the 18th dynasty of Pharaoh's which included the famous boy-king Tutunkhamun come to a sudden end 1500 years ago?
2. Lost City of the Pyramids: Who built the Pyramids at Giza and how and why did they do it?
3. Sex, Death and the Lotus: Could the pharmacological effects of the Blue Lotus flower explain why it is so often depicted in ancient Egyptian art?
Ancient Egypt (C4 website)
28 Oct 2002 (60 mins) / BBC1.
Director: Jonathan Stamp / Executive Producer: Laurence Rees
Stunning, and meticulously researched, documentary about the building of the great pyramid at Giza (the burial place of King Khufu), told from the perspective of a fictional worker called Nakht. All filming was done on location in Egypt, and combined with state-of-the-art computer graphics to create epic dramatic reconstructions of the building work.
Narrated by Omar Sharif.
BBC History - The Pyramid.
PYRAMID: IN THE NAME OF THE KING / THE GREAT PYRAMID OF KHUFI
12 Dec 2004 / BBC2 ("Primary
Two schools programs exploring the building of the ancient Egyptian pyramids.
RESCUING RAMESES ("MONSTER MOVES")
4 Mar 2008 (approx. 50 mins) / BBC2.
Documentary looking at how the famous ancient Egyptian temple of Abu Simbel was relocated in the 1960s to prevent it being inundated by the Aswan dam project .
RETURN TO TUTUNKHAMUN
19?? / BBC2
Producer: Mike Healey.
Drama-documentary about the the museum exhibition which staged a recreation of Tutunkhamun's tomb.
SECRETS OF EGYPT
13 Nov 2008 - Jan 2009 (8 x 50 mins) / Channel 5.
Producer: Dan Oliver.
How archaeology is shedding light on ancient Egyptian history and culture:
(1) Screaming Man: Scientists investigate a 3000 year-old mummy whose burial breaks with ancient Egyptian tradition. (2) Scorpion King: Investigation of the tomb of a "pre-pharonic" ancient egyptian ruler. (3) Sphinx: A look at how and why this world-famous monument was built. (4) Cleopatra: Researchers uncover the truth behind the story of ancient Egypt's most famous queen. (5) Pyramids: The evolution of the pyramids in ancient Egypt. (6) Valley of the Kings: The site of the tombs of some of ancient Egypt's most illustrious rulers including Horemheb and Quenn Hatshepsut. (7) Rameses: The historical and architectural legacy of a great Egyptian Pharaoh. (8) Alexander's Tomb.
SECRETS OF THE PYRAMIDS
2002 (50 mins)/ BBC2
Documentary about pyramid-building, as practiced by various ancient civilisations around the world, most notably the Mayans and the Ancient Egyptians - the famous pyramids of Giza are featured.
SECRETS OF THE SPHINX REVEALED
12 Dec 2004 / Channel 5
Documentary unravelling the mysteries of the Sphinx.
SECRETS OF THE VANISHING SPHINX
3 Feb 2011 / Channel 5
Documentary about how and why the Sphinx at Giza was built.
SILVER PHARAOH MYSTERY: REVEALED
9 Dec 2010 / Channel 5
Documentary about the Life of the Pharaoh Psusennes I (1039-991 BC) - whose remains were discovered at Tanis by Pierre Montet in 1940.
SWALLOWED BY THE SEA: ANCIENT EGYPT'S GREATEST LOST CITY
15 Oct 2014 (60 mins) / BBC2
Documentary about the ancient city of Heracleion, inundated after subsidence caused the coastline to drop by over 20 feet.
TIMEWATCH - PYRAMID: THE LAST SECRET
28 Mar 2009 / BBC2
Extraordinary documentary, using computer animation, which looks at a compelling new theory by French architect Jean-Pierre Houdin which may explain how the great Pyramid at Giza was constructed. His well-researched ideas hinge on the use of two enormous stone ramps - one internal, one external, and an incredible pulley system which raised the huge stone blocks.
Presented by Bob Brier.
TREASURES OF ANCIENT EGYPT
9-23 Jan 2014 / BBC4 (3x55 mins).
Classy on-location, walk-and-talk series exploring a variety of beautiful and fascinating ancient Egyptian art and crafts objects. Ep. 1 explores the earliest art; Ep. 2, art from the most opulent era including artefacts such as the portraits of Senwosret III, the golden mask of Tutunkhamun and the temple of Hatshepsut at Deir el-Bahri; Ep. 3 includes the giant statues of Ramses II and the treasures of Cleopatra.
Presented by Alastair Sooke.
TREASURES OF TUTANKHAMUN
1972 / BBC2 (50 mins).
Very informative documentary tour of the British Museum's Tutankhamun exhibition of 1972. Presented by Magnus Magnusson.
TUTANKHAMUN: MYSTERY OF THE BURNT MUMMY
10 Nov 2013 (50 mins) / Channel 4 ("Secret History").
Documentary about the discovery of Tutankhamun's Tomb and evidence that the Mummy had been burned.
TUTUNKHAMUN - SECRETS OF THE BOY KING: REVEALED
30 Oct 2007 / Channel 5.
Documentary about the famous Egyptian Boy Pharaoh.
TUTUNKHAMUN: THE MYSTERY REVEALED
19 May - 9 June 2010 (x4) / Channel 5.
An exploration of various aspects of the famous Pharaoh's life, using evidence provided by forensic techniques.
Presented by Dr. Zahi Hawass.
TUTUNKHAMUN: THE TRUTH UNCOVERED
26 Oct 2014 (60 mins) / BBC1.
Documentary about the latest research on the Tutunkhamun mummy using CT scans and DNA analysis.
Presented by Dallas Campbell.
THE VANISHED CITY OF THE PHARAOH
4 Sep 2006 (60 mins) / BBC2
("Lost Cities of the Ancients").
Documentary about the rediscovery of the "lost" ancient Egyptian harbour town of Piramesse, adopted Capital of Rameses II (1279 - 1213 BC). Two contemporary archaeologists, Manfred Bietak and Edgar Puschas, attempt to solve the problem of how the town vanished and why it was rediscovered in apparently "the wrong place".
Comment: Available on DVD as "Lost Cities of the Ancients".
ANCIENT GREECE: THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH
27 Aug – 10 Sep 2013 (3x60 mins) / BBC4.
Documentary series about ancient Greek drama. Presented by Dr. Michael Scott.
THE ANCIENT GREEK OLYMPICS
21 - 28 July 2007 (2 pts) / Channel
Director: Anthony Thomas.
Dramatised documentary about the origin of the Olympic games and how it compares to the modern version.
ATHENS : THE TRUTH ABOUT DEMOCRACY
21 - 28 July 2007 (2 pts)
/ Channel 4.
Director & Producer: Tony Copestake.
The story of the the world's first democracy - Athens, ancient Greece.
Written & presented by Bettany Hughes.
CITY BENEATH THE WAVES: PAVLOPETRI
9 Oct 2011 / BBC2.
Director/Producer: Paul Olding.
A team of archaeologists and divers makes new discoveries about the now-submerged ancient city of Pavlopetri, first rediscovered in 1967 off the south coast of Greece. The site has been computer-mapped and countless artefacts allow the team to build up a picture of the everyday life of its former inhabitants. Narrated by Philip Glenister.
GUILTY PLEASURES: LUXURY IN ANCIENT GREECE
25 Sep 2013 / BBC4.
Documentary about the ancient Greeks' attitude to luxury. Presented by Dr. Michael Scott.
2010 (3 pts) / More 4 ("Ancient Worlds with Bettany Hughes").
The rise and fall of the aggressive and self-sacrificing Spartan civilisation. Written and presented by Bettany Hughes.
THE TWO THOUSAND YEAR OLD COMPUTER
10 May 2012 / BBC4.
Outstanding documentary about the discovery of an ancient Greek mechanical device - the "Antikythera Mechanism" - used in its day for complex astronomical calculations. It is believed to have been conceived by Archimedes himself.
WHO WERE THE GREEKS?
27 June & 4 July 2013 (2x60 mins) / BBC2.
Documentary about the world of the Ancient Greeks and the legacy it has left.
Presented by Dr. Michael Scott.
THE DARK LORDS OF HATTUSHA
6 Sep 2006 (60 mins) / BBC2 ("Lost
Cities of the Ancients").
The war-like Hittites conquered all before them creating an empire to match that of the Ancient Egyptians. Their fortified capital - Hattusha - was built in the most remote of locations (Anatolia in northern Turkey), and was a masterpiece of civil and military engineering; It also contained one of the biggest libraries of the ancient world. So why did this great empire suddenly collapse and remain undiscovered by historians for so long?
Comment: Available on DVD as "Lost Cities of the Ancients".
GREAT CIVILISATIONS - MESOPOTAMIA
200? / Channel 4.
Documentary exploring ancient Mesopotamia (3,500 BC), located between the present-day rivers Tigris and Euphrates. The city of Ur is brought to life using computer-generated reconstructions.
FINDING BABYLON'S HANGING GARDEN
24 Nov 2013 / Channel 4 ("Secret History").
The researches of Oxford academic Stephanie Daly have shed new light on the origin, date and actual location of a famous wonder of the ancient world – for which there is no actual archaeological evidence.
A VERY ENGLISH GENIUS: HOW MICHAEL VENTRIS CRACKED LINEAR B
6 Aug 2004 / BBC2
Superb drama-documentary about how a young architect, Michael Ventris, came to decipher "Linear B", the earliest known writing system in Europe.
2009? / More 4 ("Ancient Worlds with Bettany Hughes").
The ancient Minoans of Crete were proclaimed as the western world's first civilisation by archaeologist Arthur Evans. Recent discoveries have added more complexity to his original findings.
Written and presented by Bettany Hughes.
MYSTERY OF THE MINOANS
4 Aug 2001 / BBC2 ("Ancient Apocalypse").
The ancient Minoan civilisation and its collapse after a devastating volcanic eruption.
Presented by Floyd McCoy.
CHINA ("GREAT CIVILISATIONS")
200? / Channel 4.
Documentary about ancient China using impressive computer graphics.
THE FIRST EMPEROR
1 July 2006 / Channel 4.
Director: Nic Young / Producer: Lucy Van Beek.
First-rate drama documentary about Qin Shi Huangdi, the first Emperor of China. His huge burial complex with its life-size terracotta army has become famous around the world.
With: James Pax as the Emporer.
THE GREAT WALL OF CHINA
1 Oct 2006 (2 hours) / Channel 4.
Excellent drama-doc about the history of the building of the Great Wall of China.
INDUS ("GREAT CIVILISATIONS")
200? / Channel 4.
Exploration of the Indus civilization - circa 2500 BC - of present-day north Pakistan. Includes Computer-generated reconstruction of its great city.
NEW SECRETS OF THE TERRACOTTA WARRIORS
8 Dec 2013 / Channel 4 ("Secret History")
Director/Producer: Ian Bremner.
A huge army of life-size replica soldiers made of terracotta was unearthed in China in 1974. Since then even more figures have been found and research has shed new light on why and by whom they were made.
ANCIENT ROME - THE RISE AND FALL OF AN EMPIRE
2006 (6 x 60 mins)/ BBC1.
Epic and wide-ranging drama series about key events in the history of the Roman empire. Covers the reigns of Nero, Julius Caesar, Augustus, Vespasian, Constantine, and Honorius (who presided over the sack of Rome). CGI is used extensively to recreate the City of Rome, battle scenes etc.
With: James D'Arcy, Geraldine James, Sean Pertwee, Michael Sheen, Catherine McCormack.
Ancient Rome (WIKI)
ATTILA THE HUN ("Heroes and Villains")
13 Feb 2008 / BBC1.
Writer: Tony Etchells / Director: Gareth Edwards / Exec. Producer: Matthew Barrett.
Drama documentary about the king who united the "barbarian" tribes and became the scourge of the Roman Empire. The CGI battle scenes are hugely impressive.
With Rory McCann as ATTILA.
BORIS JOHNSON AND THE DREAM OF ROME
29 Jan 2006 (60 Mins) / BBC1.
Writer & Presenter: Boris Johnson.
Boris Johnson looks at what lessons the European Union (EU) could learn from the way the Romans ran their empire.
28 Sep 2003 (120 mins) /
Writer: Andrew Davis / Director: Bill Anderson / Producer: Mattthew Bird.
Historical drama about Boudica, famous Queen of the ancient Briton Iceni tribe, and her armed revolt against the occupying Romans.
With Alex Kingston as Boudica.
BRITAIN'S LOST COLOSSEUM
20 May 2008 (50 mins) / BBC2 ("Timewatch").
The Romans built 25 amphitheatres for gladiatorial games – the largest in the fortress town of Chester in Northern England during the time of Vespasian. Archaeologists Tony Wilmott and Dan Garner lead the excavation of the site and "rebuild" the structure using computer animation.
1968 (6 pts) / b&w / ITV.
Writer & producer: Philip Mackie.
Historical drama series set during the turbulent period of Roman history from the reign of Augustus to that of Claudius.
With: Roland Culver, Eric Flynn, Andre Morrell, Barrie Ingham, Ralph Bates, Freddie Jones, Sonia Dresdel, Nicola Pagett.
CAESAR'S BRIDGE - SECRETS OF THE ANCIENTS
9 Nov 1999 / BBC2 ("Secrets
of the Ancients").
A team of experts attempt to simulate the building of a wooden bridge across the Rhine in only 10 days - a feat mananged by the army of Julius Caesar 2000 years earlier.
Narrated by Robert Lindsey.
CALIGULA WITH MARY BEARD
29 July 2013 / BBC2.
"Walk and talk" documentary using existing historical evidence to reconstruct the life of the tyrannical Roman Emperor Caligula (AD 12–41).
CARTHAGE: THE ROMAN HOLOCAUST
200? / Channel 4.
An exploration of the destruction of the ancient and wealthy city of Carthage, centre of a great civilisation.
Written and presented by Dr Richard Miles.
THE COLOSSEUM: ROME'S ARENA OF DEATH
2003 / BBC1.
Epic drama documentary inspired by an actual written account of a gladiatorial contest (by the poet Martial). It follows the life, training and combat in the arena of a Gladiator named Verus. Computer graphics are used to recreate the spectacle of the Colosseum.
With ROBERT SHANNON as Verus, DEREK LEA as Priscus.
THE COLOSSEUM - EMPIRES OF STONE (Pt. 1)
2001 (60 mins) / Channel 4.
Director & Producer: Patrick Fleming.
Started by the Emperor Vespasian and finished by his successor Titus, the Colosseum (in Rome) was the grandest and most elaborate amphitheatre the Roman empire had ever seen, seating 70,000 spectators. This documentary looks at the history of the building and the gladiatorial combat that took place in its arena.
Narrator: Sanjeev Bhaskar
THE EAGLE OF THE NINTH
4 Sep - 9 Oct 1977 (6 x 30
mins) / BBC1
Writer: Bill Craig (based on the novel by Rosemary Sutcliffe) / Director: Michael Simpson / Producer: Pharic MacLaren.
History drama series, set in the 2nd century A.D, about the search for the lost eagle standard of the IX legion.
Starring Anthony Higgins.
GLADIATOR GRAVEYARD (TIMEWATCH)
11 May 2007 / BBC2.
Anthropologists have discovered an ancient mass grave in Turkey which has shed new light on how Gladiators fought and died.
GLADIATORS: ROME UNWRAPPED
1 Feb 2011 / Channel 5.
Documentary about the opening gladiatorial games of the Roman Colisseum in 80 AD, with dramatised and computer-animated scenes.
GLADIATORS: THE BRUTAL TRUTH
28 Aug 2000 (50 mins) /
BBC2 (The Romans)
Producer / Director Alan Erieva.
Documentary about Gladiators and how their roles reflected the beliefs and values of Roman society itself.
Presented by Terry Jones.
19 July 2008 (60 mins) / BBC2.
Director & Producer: John Trefor.
Documentary about one of the greatest of the Roman Emporer's.
Written and presented by Dan Snow
HADRIAN'S WALL - TIMEWATCH
26 Jan 2007 / BBC2.
Director & Producer: James Hayes.
Documentary about the 74 mile-long fortified stone barrier in Scotland built by the Romans to protect their northern border. Less than 1% has been excavated by archaeologists but even this has unearthed some intriguing findings.
Presented by Julian Richards.
HANNIBAL OF THE ALPS
2005 / Channel 5.
Director & Writer: Richard Bedser / Exec. Producer: Anthony Geffen.
Quality drama-doc about the great Carthaginian General, Hannibal, with impressive CGI special effects and animations. His army's crossing of the Alps and annhilation of the Roman forces at Cannae remains one of the greatest military feats of all time. However, after a long campaign he was defeated by Scipio at Zama and eventually committed suicide.
20 Sep - 6 Dec 1976 / BBC2.
Writer: Jack Pulman (based on the novels of Robert Graves) / Director: Herbert Wise / Producer: Martin Wisemore.
Brilliant, award-winning historical drama series set in ancient Rome during the succesive reigns of Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, and Claudius.
Starring: Derek Jacobi, John Hurt, Sian Philipps, Brian Blessed, George Baker etc.
I Claudius (BBC).
I Claudius Project.
JULIUS CAESAR AND THE DRUIDS: REVEALED
19 Aug 2008 / Channel 5
Director / Producer: Andrew Chater.
Documentary about the priestly class of the ancient Britons, who resorted to ritual sacrifice in their attempts to repel the Roman invaders by magical means.
JULIUS CAESAR: ROME UNWRAPPED
10 Feb 2011 / Channel 5
The rise and fall of one of ancient Rome's most famous emperors.
THE MYSTERY OF THE HEADLESS ROMANS
2006 ? / BBC2 ("Timewatch").
Series Producer: Ian Potts.
Documentary exploring how archaeologists solved the mystery of the decapitated skeletons of 30 Roman soldiers, uncovered in the back garden of a house in York, northern England.
ON HANNIBAL'S TRAIL
19 July - 23 Aug 2010 (6 x 30 mins) / BBC4.
Series combining ancient history with a cycling tour of Spain and Italy. Danny, Ben and Sam Wood follow the route of the Carthaginian General Hannibal, who led an invading army against the Romans.
MEET THE ROMANS WITH MARY BEARD
17 Apr - 3 May 2012 (3 x 60 mins) / BBC2.
Series examining Ancient Rome from the perpective of ordinary citizens of the time.
Presented by Professor Mary Beard.
MOTHERS, MURDERERS AND MISTRESSES: EMPRESSES OF ANCIENT ROME
29 May - 12 June 2013 (3 x 60 mins) / BBC4.
Series looking at the lives of influential women during the time of the Roman empire, including Livia (wife of Augustus), Messalina (wife of Claudius), Caenis, Julia Domna (wife of Severus), Helena (mother of Constantine).
Presented by Professor Catherine Edwards.
THE MYSTERY OF THE ROMAN TREASURE
26 Dec 2008 / Channel 4 (A "Timewatch" special).
An investigation of the Sevso treasure - a valuable collection of Roman silver vessels - which is claimed to have been exported illegally from its country of origin.
Presented by Tony Robinson.
14 Aug 2007 / Channel 5.
Director: Laurence Vulliamy / Producer: Edwina Silver.
Documentary about a recent archaeological excavation of the site of Pompeii, destroyed by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in AD 79.
POMPEII: LIFE AND DEATH IN A ROMAN TOWN
14 Dec 2010 / BBC2.
Using forensic techniques, Professor Mary Beard presents a view of life in Pompeii when it was destroyed by the eruption of Vesuvius in AD 79.
POMPEII: THE LAST DAY
20 and 26 Oct 2003 / BBC1.
Impressive drama-doc (using Computer graphics, filmed scenes and dramatic episodes) telling the story of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius and the subsequent detruction of the nearby Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum.
Narrated by Alisdair Simpson. Starring: Jonathan Firth.
Pompeii - portents of destruction (BBC).
POMPEII: THE MYSTERY OF THE PEOPLE FROZEN IN TIME
27 Mar 2013 (60 mins) / BBC1.
A fresh look at the destruction of the Roman town of Pompeii, revealing the everyday lives of its inhabitants and dispelling some of myths. Presented by Margaret Mountford.
THE ROMANS IN BRITAIN
1994 / BBC2 - Open University.
Interesting documentary series exploring the impact the Romans had on the Ancient Britons in terms of history, technology etc.
19 June - 14 Aug 2007 (series 1) and 8 July -
9 Sep 2008 (series 2) / BBC1.
Big budget period drama series for children, based on the historical novels of Caroline Lawrence.
Roman Mysteries (BBC).
2005 - 2007 / BBC2.
Series 1 (11 x 50 mins): Nov 2005 - 11 Jan 2006.
Series 2 (10 x 60 mins): 10 Jun - 12 Aug 2007.
Visually impressive, though uneven, big-budget historical drama series set in Ancient Rome.
With: Kenneth Cranham, Ciaran Hinds, Kevin McKidd, Ray Stevenson.
ROME: A HISTORY OF THE ETERNAL CITY
5 - 19 Dec 2012 / BBC2.
A history of the influence of religion, both pagan and Christian, on the history of Rome. Presented by Simon Sebag.
ROME'S LOST EMPIRE
9 Dec 2012 / BBC1.
Director/Producer: Jeff Wilkinson.
Dan Snow and archaeologist Sarah Parcak search for lost ancient Roman towns and other structures using the latest satellite technology combined with traditional archaeological methods.
ROME: THE WORLD'S FIRST SUPERPOWER
24 Oct - 7 Nov 2014 (4x50 mins) / Channel 5.
Documentary series about the development of the ancient Roman empire. Presented by Larry Lamb.
ROME WASN'T BUILT IN A DAY
20 Jan - 24 Feb 2011 (6 pts) / Channel 4.
A team of modern day builders attempts to construct a Roman villa using only the technology and materials available in ancient times.
SECRET HISTORY - THE LOST LEGIONS OF VARUS
2001 / Channel 4
Director: Tony Bulley.
Documentary about the Battle of the Teutoberg Forest in Northerm Germany in 9 A.D., which led to the annihilation of 3 Roman legions (under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus) by an alliance of Germanic tribes.
Battle of Teutoberg Forest (Wikipedia).
THE SECRET TREASURES OF ZEUGMA
9 Nov 2000 (50 mins) / BBC2
Documentary about Archaeologists' attempt to save valuable Roman artefacts from a site in eastern Turkey.
SPARTACUS ("Heroes and Villains")
29 Feb 2008 (60 mins) / BBC2.
Writer: Colin Heber / Director & Producer: Tim Dunn.
Drama-Documentary about the famous slave revolt against the Romans in 79 AD.
Starring Anthony Flanagan.
TERRY JONES'S BARBARIANS
2006 (4 parts) / BBC2.
A documentary series looking at Roman history from the perspective of those civilisations which they came into conflict with. The cultural and technical acheivements of the Celts, Goths, Persians and Vandals are put under the spotlight.
Presented by Terry Jones.
1994 - Date / Channel 4
Archaeology series which conducts excavations all around Britain - frequently uncovering Roman sites:
23 Jan 1994: On the Edge of the Empire. An excavation at Ribchester, Lancashire on the northern frontier of the Roman empire.
29 Jan 1995: The Archbishop's Backgarden. A dig in the gardens of Lambeth Palace in London in search of a Roman road.
11 Feb 1996: Lavenham. A dig in Suffolk follows up a find of a hoard of hundreds of pieces of Roman pottery, jewellery and coins.
25 Jan 1998 & 28 Feb 1999: Turkdean. Live excavation of a Roman villa complex.
10 Jan 1999: Papcastle, Cumbria. Excavation of a Roman fort site.
14 Feb 1999: Beauport Park, East Sussex. Excavation on the site of a Roman bath-house - with the hope of finding other structures nearby.
2000: Cirencester: The Mosaic at the Bottom of the Garden. Excavation to find remains of the old Roman town of Corinium.
2000: Birdoswald. Excavation of a Roman town and cemetery in Cumbria.
2000: York. An excavation covering 3 different periods - including Roman.
2001: The Celtic Spring, Llygadwy, Wales. Excavation around a natural spring which has been the site of a significant find of Roman coins and other artefacts.
2001: A Waltham Villa, Gloucestershire. The team searches for a Roman villa near Cheltenham.
2001: The Inter-City Villa, Basildon, Berkshire. The team excavates the site of two Roman floor mosaics - discovered previously in the early 19th century.
2002: The Romans Panic, Lincolnshire. Dig at the site of Roman remains at Ancaster.
2002: A Lost Roman City, Castleford. A dig for Roman remains in Yorkshire.
2002: Steptoe et Filius, Isle of Wight. A dig for a high-status Roman dwelling at Yaverland.
2002: Londinium, Edge of Empire. A City of London dig in search of the old Roman city.
2003: Mosaics, Mosaics, Mosaics, Dinnington. A Somerset has uncovered a Roman mosaic floor under his pigsties which leads to a Time Team excavation.
2003: Death in a Crescent, Bath. Excavation of a Roman site at the famous Royal Crescent.
2003: A View to a Kiln, Sedgefield. Aerial photos reveal what may be the site of Roman town near Sedgefield.
2004: A Roman Bath House and an Edwardian Folly, Whitestaunton. A medieval manor house in Somerset is the site of a dig for a possible Roman villa.
2004: The Roman Fort that Wasn't There, Syndale. The team excavates the grounds of a hotel in Kent for evidence of a Roman fort.
2004: Cranborne Chase, Dorset. Dig at a site showing evidence of habitation from Iron-age to post-Roman times.
2004: Back-Garden Archaeology Revisiting a Roman Villa, Ipswich. A Roman villa is uncovered beneath the back gardens of an East-Anglian city suburb.
2005: Fighting on the Frontier, Drumlanrig, Dumfries and Galloway. A search for the remains of a Roman fort in Scotland.
2005: Going Upmarket with the Romans, Standish, Gloucestershire. A search for a lost Roman villa.
2005: The Puzzle of Pickett's Farm, South Perrott, Dorset. A find of Roman brooches and coins in a field leads to a dig for the ruins of a temple.
2005: Tower Blocks and Togas, South Shields, Tyneside. A dig to uncover a Roman cemetery in the north-east of England.
2006: Villas Out of Molehills, Withington, Gloucestershire. A dig on the site of a Roman villa in the Cotswolds.
2006: The Boat on the Rhine, Utrecht. The team travels to Germany to dig for a Roman barge on the banks of the Rhine river.
2006: Early Bath, Ffrith, North Wales. A dig at the site of a Roman building in Wales.
2006: The Taxman's Tavern, Alfoldean, Sussex. The search for a Roman settlement in Sussex.
2007: There's No Place Like Rome, Blacklands, Somerset. The team dig around the site of existing Roman structures near Bath.
2007: The Druids' Last Stand, Anglesey. Excavation a Y Werthyr for Iron age remains - and a glimpse through time at the the Roman destruction of an ancient Druid culture.
2007: A Port and Stilton, Stilton, Cambridgeshire. The team conduct a dig in Cambridgeshire - the site of hundreds of finds of Roman and neolithic artefacts.
2007: Road to the Relics, Godstone, Surrey. A dig in a large field for what may be a Roman religious site.
2008: Street of the Dead, Binchester, County Durham. A dig around the site of a Roman fort near Bishop Auckland.
2008: 5000 Tons of Stone, Hamsterley, County Durham. A dig at a site of uncertain ancestry though it may be of Roman origin.
2008: The Romans Recycle, Wickenby, Lincolnshire. A site which has formerly revealed many artefacts - Roman, Iron-age and Anglo-Saxon.
2008: Mysteries of the Mosaic, Coberley, Gloucestershire. A dig beneath a mosaic floor on farmland in Gloucestershire.
4 Jan 2009: The Trouble with Temples. Friar's Wash, Hertfordshire: The team unearths an important roman temple complex in Hertfordshire.
25 Jan 2009: Toga Town. Caerwent, S. Wales: An excavation in Caerwent, Monmouthshire, site of one of the best preserved roman towns in Britain.
22 Feb 2009: Mystery of the Ice-cream Villa. The team excavates a plot in Colworth, Bedfordshire, for evidence of Roman occupation.
2010: Piercebridge. A site in a shallow part of the river Tees which has previously yielded many Roman artefacts.
2010: Rooting for the Romans. Bedford Purlieus Wood, Cambridgeshire. A woodland dig that uncovers some significant Roman buildings including a bath house.
19 May 2010: Cunetio, Wiltshire. The Team investigates the site of the Roman town of Cunetio - famous as the source of the largest ever Roman coin hoard found in Britain.
31 Oct 2010: There's a villa here somewhere: Litlington, Cambridgeshire. The team dig for a large Roman villa after following a lead from a 19th century map.
2011: Romans on the range. High Ham, Somerset. A dig on an army firing range reveals several Roman villas.
13 Mar 2011: Under the gravestones. Cambridgeshire. The team dig in the graveyard of St. Kyneburgha's Church in Castor, Cambridgeshire, in the hope of finding Roman artefacts including a mosaic floor.
2012: Dig by wire. Gateholm Island, Pembrokeshire. A Welsh island (which has previously yielded Roman artefacts) reveals further evidence of habitation going back to the mesolithic period.
2012: Rome's Wild West, Caerleon, S. Wales. A dig at one of the best-preserved Roman sites in Britain reveals more significant structures.
6 Jan 2013: Brancaster, Norfolk. Excavation of the site of a former Roman shore fort.
17 Feb 2013: Mystery of the Thames-side Villa. A field in southern Oxfordshire, a source of ancient artefacts - is excavated for evidence of a Roman habitation.
Presented by Tony Robinson.
Time Team website.
THE TREASURES OF ANCIENT ROME
3-24 Sep 2012 (4 x 60 mins) / BBC4.
Documentary series about ancient Roman art. Presented by Alastair Sooke.
WHAT THE ROMANS DID FOR US
6 Nov - 11 Dec 2000 / BBC2.
Documentary series exploring the technological innovations introduced to Ancient Britain by the Romans. Covering military technology, farming practices, buildings, roads, cities etc.
Presented by Adam Hart-Davis.
Discover Roman technology (BBC).
What the Romans did for us (BBC factual).
THE BATTLE OF TROY - TIME COMMANDERS
2005 (Series 2 - part 6) / BBC2.
A team of enthusiasts takes part in a computer simulation of the Battle of Troy.
Presented by Richard Hammond.
Time Commanders (Wikipedia).
HELEN OF TROY
14 Apr 2010 / More 4 ("Ancient Worlds with Bettany Hughes").
Documentary looking at the reality behind the myth of Helen of Troy – the "face that launched a thousand ships" and whose elopement with Paris was said to have been the cause of the Trojan war. Presented by Bettany Hughes.
IN SEARCH OF THE TROJAN WAR
(6 parts) / BBC2.
Excellent – and beautifully scenic – ancient history documentary series examining the archaeological, historical and literary evidence for the city of Troy; and telling the story of the search for its ruins by leading archaeologists of the day.
Written and presented by Michael Wood.