Volume One of this popular and expansive
series consists of three 50-minute episodes which focus on some of the
most awe-inspiring structures ever created by man. Drawing on the
expertise of numerous professors, historians and specialists, the series
paints a vivid picture of the planning and execution of these timeless
monuments. The ‘megastructures’ featured in the present volume are:
Few structures are as synonymous with
Ancient Rome as its famed gladiatorial arena, and no trip to the Italian
capital would be complete without paying a visit to this iconic locale.
The opening episode of Ancient Megastructures details how 1st
century AD architects drained a lake the size of five football fields to
make way for the construction of the Colosseum, a public arena that
seated 50,000 and had no rivals in scale until the modern age.
Eventually 500,000 people and over one million animals were killed in
the name of sport during the centuries of the Colosseum’s operation,
with several species being driven to the brink of extinction. The story
of the funding behind the project is also an interesting one; strapped
for cash, Emperor Vespasian ordered the sacking of Jerusalem and had
thirty thousand prisoners transported back to Rome to be auctioned off
as prisoners, simultaneously lining his coffers and raising enough money
to finance the immense undertaking.
The Great Pyramid
The only Wonder of the Ancient World still
standing, the Great Pyramid of Giza remained the tallest manmade
structure on earth for almost four thousand years. Commissioned by the
pharaoh Khufu some 2500 years before Christ, its construction represents
one of the most miraculous engineering feats in human history. The
episode dispels some of the myths surrounding the creation of the Giza
pyramid complex, including that it was built by teeming legions of
slaves, and also speculates on the final resting place of the mysterious
ruler and other aspects of this fascinating epoch.
When the original cathedral of Chartres in
northern France was destroyed by lightning in 1194, a replacement was
hastily commissioned in order to cement the power and prestige of the
local religious order. Behind the facade of the immensely beautiful
Gothic structure that resulted, however, lies the tale of an intense
power struggle between the French aristocracy and the Catholic Church.
A wonder of innovation and medieval craftsmanship, the finished
cathedral still stands as one of the most stunning churches in all of
Europe, its mystique heightened by the intrigue and complications
surrounding its construction.
This is an excellent series, with strong
visuals and a soaring Dolby Digital 2.0 audio track, and all in all
Ancient Megastructures provides a polished and enlightening glimpse
at the architectural marvels of the past. The re-enactments, narration
and overall attention to detail are impressive, and anyone with more
than a passing interest in history or engineering will find much to