Engineering an Empire: Season 1, Episode 11

The Byzantines (25 Dec. 2006)

TV Episode  -  Documentary | History
7.7
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Title: The Byzantines (25 Dec 2006)

The Byzantines (25 Dec 2006) on IMDb 7.7/10

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Himself - Host
Michael Carroll ...
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water | wall | legacy | orthodox | conquest | See more »


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25 December 2006 (USA)  »

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Water and Big Churches in Turkey.
7 April 2010 | by (Deming, New Mexico) – See all my reviews

As in the other episodes, the host is actor/scholar Peter Weller, and the narration is by Michael Carroll. The political and military history of the Byzantine Empire is briefly sketched. Its florescence was shortly after the fall of the Roman Empire, about 500 AD. The cultural center was Constantinople (now Istanbul), named by the emperor Constantine after himself. (Well, why not?) This episode focuses on two engineering achievements -- an underground aqueduct that brought water to a crowded city of twelve million or so, which was BIG for the time; and a mammoth church consisting of one gigantic central dome surrounded by four or five others, which you'll recognize immediately if you've ever seen movies shot in Istanbul or taken a look at picture postcards.

The focus is on technology, not science or art. Nothing here about the mosaics for which the place and period are so well known. And nothing much about the physics that made the achievements possible.

There are occasional scenes of actors in period dress, riding horses, walking through the crooked streets, playing corpses and so forth, but just enough to give the viewer the flavor of the times.

If there's a flaw, it's the same one I run into in the other episodes. The details of the engineering, and the reasoning behind them, goes by a little too quickly for me to grasp. The animated diagrams we are exposed to need more explanation and a bit more time to be digested.

That doesn't detract from the overall quality of the series, though.


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