The Arabs have been bringing knowledge of the ancient world to Europe since the eighth century. In the fields of medicine, mathematics or philosophy, the scholars in their civilisation were far beyond their time and still affect our world today. For a long time the Arabs were estranged, not united by one nation or leader. They had little in common but a shared language. This didn't change until Mohammed ended polytheism, founded a new religion and united all of the Arabic tribes in their faith in one God: Allah.
There is barely a country in Europe that can't look back on Germanic roots, though there has never been one unified people. The term 'Germanic' actually refers to a number of tribes and clans that lived in central and northern Europe from the sixth century BC. Gaius Julius Caesar is said to have used it when talking about the Gallic war. However, the Romans were full of contempt for the Germanic peoples and their civilisation, Tacitus calling their home a hideous blood-curdling place full of dark woods and swamplands.
This is a journey to the roots of the modern world: from the eclectic Germanic tribes that defied the mighty Romans, to the seafaring Carthaginians that established the first global trade network, and the pioneering Arabs and their advances into modern science. Meet the ancestors that have shaped the world. The Carthaginians were sly merchants and cruel child killers - at least according to the Ancient Romans and Greeks. But research shows that they weren't as bad as their reputation. The story of their civilisation began around 3000 years ago, when settlers left their homes in what is now Lebanon to set up colonies around the Mediterranean. The most powerful was Carthage, a bustling metropolis in what is now Tunisia, with a port that was the envy of the entire world.
A nation of seafarers and merchants, the Vikings revolutionised exploration and trading in the Middle Ages and discovered America 500 years before Columbus. Their bad reputation as wild, murdering and pillaging norsemen will be unveiled as misguided and a strikingly tolerant people with an elaborate trading network that stretched right through Europe will be revealed. For 900 years, their light, manoeuvrable sailing-ships could not be matched. As the best seafarers of their time, daring, tolerant explorers and expert merchants, they set new benchmarks and left their mark everywhere. Alternative episode title: How the Vikings Changed the World.
The Romans created one of the greatest empires in history, built with the help of an incredible army of professional legionnaires and a well-oiled political machinery. At its height, a few hundred men ruled over a fifth of mankind and an area stretching from Britain to Syria and from Gibraltar to the Euphrates. They undertook some of the most ambitious building-projects of their time: endless roads, gigantic bridges and imposing aqueducts formed a complex infrastructure and left a lasting legacy on civilisation. Alternative episode title: How the Romans Changed the World.
Ancient Greece - the cradle of modern Europe. Around 3000 years ago, the cultural foundations of western civilisation were laid, on the shores of the Mediterranean. It's the birthplace of democracy, where great thinkers forged the beginnings of scientific reasoning, where theatre was turned into mass entertainment, and where the Olympic Games began. Imaginative animation, stunning visuals and an entertaining narrative combine in an extraordinary exploration of Greece and the rise of an ancient super power that would leave a permanent mark on western society. Alternative episode title: How the Greeks Changed the World.
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