For anyone looking for an alternative to the X-Factor final on Sunday evening, the BBC provided some educational programming in Rome’s Lost Empire, presented by Dan Snow and Dr Sarah Parcak.
As an archaeologist from Alabama State University, Dr Parcak had recently used satellite imagery to discover thousands of sites of interest in Egypt, and hoped to do the same with the Roman empire.
Some of the sites visited included the Rose-Pink City of Petra (Seen on An Idiot Abroad, with Karl Pilkington), and Portus, which once a massive harbour of Rome, where they discovered a straight canal, which saved time compared to sailing up a winding river.
When they visited each of the sites discovered by satellite, CGI buildings; including an amphitheatre, farm buildings, and ‘Rome’s lost lighthouse’, magically popped up as they may have appeared at the time. I think some people be unconvinced by the artists’ impressions of the buildings based on the shape and the size of the base. Thankfully, some of the experts did say it may be this or that, so it wasn’t completely stated as fact.
Snow’s comments were slightly annoying at times, describing things one word at a time. “Arabia. Exotic. Sophisticated. A land of adventure. And opportunity.” But don’t let that put you off, he was an interesting presenter for the rest of the show. I’m sure some people will feel the show was a bit dumbed down, but as a non-expert in Roman history, it was a welcome choice away from that other show on ITV.
Watch Rome’s Lost Empire on BBC iPlayer here