Historian Bettany Hughes recalls the time that marked Rome's symbolic break with its 1000-year pagan past - the day in 337 AD that Emperor Constantine the Great was baptised a Christian. It was a moment of profound significance not just for the empire, but for the history of the world and one of its major religions. Constantine was one of the last great Roman emperors to rule over a united empire, giving it a new capital - Constantinople, today known as Istanbul - a city which would one day eclipse Rome as the greatest city on Earth.
Historian Bettany Hughes explores the day in AD 80 when the Colosseum opened its gates for the first time. For new emperor Titus, the spectacular games and events were an opportunity to win over the people and secure his place on the imperial throne, but why did the Romans - cultured and civilised in so many ways - enjoy witnessing such brutality and bloodletting? Bettany travels across the Roman world in a bid to find answers.
Historian Bettany Hughes focuses on events leading up to and after June 9, 68 AD, when Emperor Nero took his life. She examines his relationship with his mother, fondness for debauchery and how casual violence and murder began to destabilise what had once been touted as a new 'golden age' for Rome. Nero's death plunged the empire into anarchy and civil war. From here on in, the Roman Empire would be plagued by military coups and revolt, one of the crucial factors in its eventual decline.
Archaeologists find extraordinary evidence of how the ancient Egyptians prepared for the afterlife and the disturbing lengths graverobbers went to.
Archaeologists investigate the powerful reign of one of the greatest female pharaohs in history - Hatshepsut.