Engineering An Empire

Season 1 Episode 13

The Byzantines

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Aired Monday 9:00 PM Dec 25, 2006 on The History Channel
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The Byzantines
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As much of the world descended into the dark ages after the fall of Rome, one civilization shone brilliantly: the Byzantine Empire. With ruthless might and supreme ingenuity the Byzantines ruled over vast swaths of Europe and Asia for more than a thousand years. The Byzantines constructed the ancient world's longest aqueduct, virtually invincible city walls, a massive stadium, and a colossal domed cathedral that defied the laws of naturemoreless

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    • TRIVIA (4)

      • St. Nicholas, the original Santa Claus, was a bishop in the Byzantine Empire. During the fourth century, he was known for secret gift giving.

      • Theodosius II nearly bankrupted the empire trying to buy off Attila. He paid the Huns as much as 2,100 pounds of gold a year.

      • Legend says that a Byzantine princess who married an Italian nobleman in the 11th century introduced the table fork to Europe

      • According to legend, Constantinople boasted a collection of sacred Christian relics including the True Cross, and John the Baptist's head.

    • QUOTES (1)

      • Narrator: Brilliance and brutality, intellect and intrigue, Christianity and carnage, the Byzantine Empire was a beacon of light with a dark side. Led by rulers who exercised absolute power and architects who pushed beyond Rome's engineering marvels, the Byzantines constructed the ancient world's longest aqueduct, virtual invincible city walls and a colossal domed cathedral that defied the laws of nature. But carrying on a Roman legacy came with a price. They Byzantine Empire was the dominant civilization during the dark ages, but after a millennium of rule, it's engineering feats would betray them as an ancient light was extinguished in the glare of modern warfare.

    • NOTES (1)

      • Commentators:

        Robert Ousterhaut
        University of Pennsylvania

        Robert Nelson
        Yale University

        John Halden
        Princeton University

        Denis Sullivan
        University of Maryland

        Alessandra Ricci
        Koc University

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