• Machines II.

    Premiere Date:December 11, 2005

    How did the ancients harness power? Did Archimedes use solar power to defeat the Romans? Was he the first to concentrate the power of the sun? Early historical accounts of the battle of Syracuse in 212 BC claim that Archimedes used polished shields to focus light onto the sails of the invading Roman ships and set them ablaze. We investigate this and other intriguing and incredible objects. An earthenware jar about the size of a man's fist sits in the National Museum of Iraq. Its existence could require history books throughout the world to be rewritten. The jar appears to be an electric battery pre-dating Christ. Did the ancient world master electricity nearly two millennia before the modern world? A recent discovery of a flour mill in Barbegal in southern France contained 16 waterwheels that operated the mill. Is this one of the first examples of Roman industrial-revolution technology–1,800 years before our own?

    Upcoming Airings:
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  • Ships.

    Premiere Date:August 21, 2005

    Lurking beneath Lake Nemi's blue waters lay the titans of Roman naval engineering–the Nemi Ships. Titanic luxury liners of the ancient world, they held inventions lost for thousands of years. But why were they built? Were they Caligula's notorious floating pleasure palaces–rife with excess and debauchery? Flagships of a giant sea force? It took Mussolini's obsession with all things Roman to finally prise the two wrecks from the depths of Lake Nemi near Rome. Using an ancient Roman waterway, he drained the lake and rescued the ships, an accomplishment captured on film that we access to illustrate this astounding story. Sophisticated ancient technology discovered in the boats transformed the understanding of Roman engineering overnight. Yet by 1944, the adventure had turned sour and the retreating German army torched the boats. We reveal the mysteries of the Nemi Ships and the ancient technology that made them possible.

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  • Warfare.

    Premiere Date:August 21, 2005

    Warfare was a way of life in the ancient world. The technology of war drove ancient inventors and engineers to ever-greater lengths to defeat their enemies. They were, perhaps, the greatest masterminds of the battlefield– yet who were they, and how did they make their sophisticated lethal machines more than 2,000 years ago? Ancient warfare was every bit as technical and lethal as today's warfare. Just witness the colossal and lethal Helepolis ("city taker"), history's most sophisticated siege machine. From the sinister machines that could bring a city's wall crashing down to Greek Fire, the napalm of the ancient world–warfare was as terrible then as now. The sheer ingenuity and complexity with which these war machines were created proves that the people of the ancient world were great inventors, mathematicians, and engineers.

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  • Ancient Computer?

    Premiere Date:December 21, 2003

    Journey back in time for an eye-opening look at the amazing ancient roots of technologies we like to think of as modern. New research suggests that many of the inventions of the last 200 years may, in fact, have already been known to the ancients. In this hour, we explore the Antikythera mechanism, an ancient machine that was discovered deep in the Aegean Sea. Could it perhaps have been an ancient computer? Could Archimedes have had a hand in its creation?

    Upcoming Airings:
    • no upcoming airings in the next two weeks