Secrets of Lost Empires

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History Documentary published by BBC, PBS broadcasted as part of PBS Nova series in 1997 - English narration

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Image: Secrets-of-Lost-Empires-Cover.jpg

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The civilisations of the ancient world left behind awe-inspiring examples of their engineering genius. Yet few clues remain to tell us just how, with limited technology, they achieved their extraordinary feats. To uncover the secrets of such Herculean labours, NOVA sent teams of experts to five archaeological sites.

The challenges? To actually test their building hypotheses - using traditional techniques.

[edit] Stonehenge (1997)

In Britain, fresh light is cast on the enigma of Stonehenge as dozens of volunteers use ropes and wooden sledges to erect replicas of the massive stones originally raised 4,000 years ago. Their task involves more than brute force, since the question of how the lintels that bridge the uprights were raised and levelled continues to baffle scholars and engineers alike. The meaning of Stonehenge to its builders and the purpose of the astronomical alignments built into its structure also figure in this match between muscles and megaliths.

[edit] The Obelisk (1997)

In Egypt, the team of scientists examines the quarrying of ancient obelisks, towering slabs of polished granite that Pharaohs raised to honour the gods, and that now adorn Rome's piazzas, London's embankment, and Central Park. How did ancient labourers who had no metal tools or mechanized equipment carve out, transport, and raise single blocks of stone weighing several hundred tons? The team that made This Old Pyramid such a popular hit now travels to the quarries of Aswan, the source of the original obelisks. This time the team faces severe obstacles as they struggle to raise a thirty-five foot-long replica from the living rock.

[edit] The Colosseum (1997)

The marvels of Roman public architecture and hydraulic engineering are explored in a show that looks at the structure of amphitheatres such as the Colosseum. A little known feature of these amphitheatres is that they were originally roofed by canvas covers that were retracted when the arena was not in use. But how did the Romans devise a mechanism as tricky as a huge retractable roof? Our team of archaeologists and engineers will tackle the problem that the ancient Romans solved in one of the most striking examples of that civilization's ingenuity.

[edit] The Incas (1994)

In Peru, Quechua villagers revive the astonishing engineering lore of their Inca ancestors as they weave a traditional bridge from grass fibre and suspend it across a gorge. Meanwhile, an architect and an amateur archaeologist try to settle their long-standing arguments about the secrets of Inca stone walls. How did the ancient masons fit giant, irregular blocks together so perfectly that a knife blade cannot be pushed between the joints? As they join our experts in puzzling over Inca mysteries, NOVA viewers will glimpse the splendours of Machu Picchu and masterpieces of ancient Peruvian weaving and gold work.

[edit] Pyramid (1992)

Pyramid takes us to the shadow of the Great Pyramid of Giza, where Egyptologist Mark Lehner, stonemason Roger Hopkins, and a team of Egyptian workers face the daunting task of building an 18-foot stone pyramid in three weeks.

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[edit] Technical Specs

  • Video Codec: Divx 6
  • Video Bitrate: ~1600 kb/s
  • Video Resolution: 608x448 (1.36:1)
  • Video Aspect Ratio: 4:3
  • Audio Codec: AC3
  • Audio BitRate: 192 kb/s (96/ch, stereo) CBR 48000 Hz
  • Audio Channels: 2
  • RunTime Per Part: 55m
  • Number Of Parts: 5
  • Part Size: 700mb
  • Ripped by jvt40

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