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Alexandria: The Greatest City

Bettany goes in search of this lost civilisation, revealing the story of a city founded out of the desert by Alexander the Great in 331 BC to become the world's first global centre of culture, into which wealth and knowledge poured from across the world.

Three cities dominated the ancient world: Athens, Rome and a third, now almost forgotten. It lies hidden beneath the waters of the Mediterranean and a sprawling modern metropolis.Alexandria was a city built on a dream; a place with a very modern mindset, where - as with the worldwide web - one man had a vision that all knowledge on earth could be stored in one place.

Until its decline in the fourth and fifth Centuries AD, Alexandria became a crucible of learning; Hughes uncovers the incredible discoveries and the technical achievements of this culture. The film's cast of characters reads like a list of the greatest figures of ancient times: political figures like Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, and intellectuals including female mathematician, astronomer and philosopher Hypatia, Euclid, Archimedes, Eratosthenes and Ptolemy. At last, after 1,500 years squashed under a modern metropolis, new clues are emerging from the earth to the real nature of this grand experiment in human civilisation.


Pick of the Day

The Times, The Sunday Telegraph, The Times, The Telegraph, The Mail on Sunday, The Mail, The Radio Times, The Evening Standard, The Observer

"Her history weaves together tales involving Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Archimedes and the female mathematician Hypatia together with gripping stories of sectarian violence and power-grabbing"

The Telegraph

"Bettany Hughes is so engaging"

The Mail

"What this excellent documentary is doing on More 4 is anyone’s guess, but it’s worth the detour. The historian Bettany Hughes reconstructs its history with elegant enthusiasm"

The Evening Standard

"Hughes sees Alexandria as the intellectual engine room of the ancient world – as ever she is a lucid lecturer"

The Observer

"Hughes savours the ruins pulsating with past glories as Nigella Lawson might a particularly rich cake, and so she brings the city to life. A compelling start to a fascinating run"

The Mail on Sunday

"Let’s face it, there aren’t enough women presenting factual television, particularly in history, where middle-aged blokes tend to be the order of the day. This new doc is the opener to a season reprising her excellent programmes on the ancient world…if its half as engaging as her films on the Minaons and Athens it’ll be well –worth watching. Alexandria is a tricky subject but we can trust Hughes to bring it to life"

The Radio Times

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