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Out of the Darkness

       History
The third assault on the tattered remains of Roman civilization came from even further North, where the melting glacial ice had created immense sheltered fjords, leaving its inhabitants little choice but the sea. These fearless navigators understood that dominion over the oceans was the key to their ambitions.
Where the Romans expanded incrementally, the Vikings adopted a bolder, more aggressive approach. So was it the Dark Age which failed Europe, or the stifling uniformity of the great Roman experiment? Were the lost tribes more victim than failure? Richard Rudgley will hope to shed new light on the real secrets of the so-called Dark Age.
Series: Barbarians: Secrets of the Dark Ages

Words on a Page

   2020    History
Writing itself is 5,000 years old, and for most of that time words were written by hand using a variety of tools. The Romans were able to run an empire thanks to documents written on papyrus. Scroll books could be made quite cheaply and, as a result, ancient Rome had a thriving written culture. With the fall of the Roman Empire, papyrus became more difficult to obtain. Europeans were forced to turn to a much more expensive surface on which to write: Parchment. Medieval handwritten books could cost as much as a house, they also represent a limitation on literacy and scholarship.
No such limitations were felt in China, where paper had been invented in the second century. Paper was the foundation of Chinese culture and power, and for centuries how to make it was kept secret. When the secret was out, paper mills soon sprang up across central Asia. The result was an intellectual flourishing known as the Islamic Golden Age. Muslim scholars made discoveries in biology, geology, astronomy and mathematics. By contrast, Europe was an intellectual backwater.
That changed with Gutenberg’s development of movable type printing. The letters of the Latin alphabet have very simple block-like shapes, which made it relatively simple to turn them into type pieces. When printers tried to use movable type to print Arabic texts, they found themselves hampered by the cursive nature of Arabic writing. The success of movable type printing in Europe led to a thousand-fold increase in the availability of information, which produced an explosion of ideas that led directly to the European Scientific Revolution and the Industrial Revolution that followed.
Series: The Secret History of Writing

Ashes to Ashes

   2020    History
Hours before Mehmed II launches his final assault, an ominous sight shakes both sides. Rumors of a 40-ship fleet's imminent arrival have swirled for weeks, but it's exact whereabouts remained unknown. Ottoman cannons reduced the city walls to rubble, and Venetian reinforcements arrived too late. The conquest of Constantinople ushers in a new era for the Ottoman Empire, being a dominant force in world politics for 300 years. Mehmed II, in many senses, changed the nature of world history.
Series: Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Ancient Prophecies

   2020    History
It's this moment where now both sides realize that no quarter will be asked, and no quarter will be given. Surrender is no longer even an option. You're in this to the end. You either die or you triumph, and there is no other alternative. Amid a spiral of brutality and low morale, Mehmed makes Giustiniani an enticing offer. The grand vizier urges Mehmed to seek a truce with his rival.
Series: Rise of Empires: Ottoman

Into The Golden Horn

   2020    History
Mehmed II sends his elite troops into the teeth of Emperor Constantine's defenses along the city's ancient stone walls. The defenders, led by Italian soldier-of-fortune Giovanni Giustiniani, repel every attack. Mehmed's men dig underground tunnels in an attempt to shatter city walls. The tides turn against the Ottomans when a naval blockade founders.
Series: Rise of Empires: Ottoman
Elvis Presley: The Searcher
Elvis Presley: The Searcher

   2018    History
Everything and Nothing
Everything and Nothing

   2011    Science
Ancient Aliens
Ancient Aliens

   2014    Culture
The Last Czars
The Last Czars

   2019    History
Life
Life

   2009    Nature
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle
Jonestown: Terror in the Jungle

   2018    History