Empire and War (02:03)
Humans had been battling nature since leaving Africa. In this episode, Andrew Marr will explore how violence helped society progress, starting 3,000 years ago.
Siege of Lachish (03:32)
Assyrian King Sennacherib was a prototype for empire building. Learn how he invaded the Judah city by building a ramp over its walls, killing 1500 and enslaving survivors.
Nineveh Palace Friezes (01:09)
The Assyrians enslaved 4 million prisoners of war to build monuments, immortalized on "propaganda" walls.
Phoenician Alphabet (02:50)
Early Mediterranean merchant sailors placated the Assyrian Empire through tribute. Learn how they developed a writing system using letters and words—forming the base of all Western alphabets.
Cyrus the Great (03:11)
The Persian Emperor was open to cultural influences. In 547 BC he targeted Croesus, the king of Lydia who had mined gold and silver deposits to create the first reliable currency.
Spreading Currency (02:59)
According to Herodotus, Cyrus the Great was burning Croesus at the stake when a rainstorm doused the flames. He made Croesus his adviser and modeled Persian coins after the Lydian invention.
Monotheism Origins (03:19)
Cyrus conquered Babylon and freed enslaved Jews. Learn how the Jewish belief in one god developed from war, exile, and written scriptures.
Siddhartha Gautama (03:06)
India underwent social change in the 5th century BC, fueling demand for new ideas. Learn how a noble abandoned his privilege in search of answers to questions of suffering and inequality.
Founding Buddhism (04:13)
Learn how Siddhartha meditated under a Bodhi tree until reaching enlightenment. Bodhgaya Temple was built next to the site; chanted stories preserved his story and spread his message of universal peace.
Democracy Experiment (03:30)
Learn how Greek citizens threw out a tyrant at the Acropolis in Athens, establishing popular rule—but excluding women and slaves.
Battle of Marathon (07:41)
The Persian Empire attacked the coast of Athens in 490 BC. The Greeks defeated the invaders and then ran 26 miles to defend Athens. Victory produced the Parthenon and a cultural blossoming.
Fragmentation and war threatened Chinese emperors in the Zhou Dynasty. Learn how a bureaucrat set out to reform society through hierarchy and rules.
Chinese Social Reform (03:50)
Confucius abandoned court, disillusioned by improper behavior. He taught citizens to respect others and honor tradition; ideas on morality and conduct were adopted by institutions and are still used in China.
Alexander the Great (03:09)
In 356 BC, the young Macedonian was fascinated by the Persian Empire. Learn how he took over Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and Persia—spreading Greek language and founding 70 new cities.
Cultural Integration Policy (04:46)
Learn how Alexander the Great killed Cleitus after being accused of abandoning his Macedonian roots. He married his army to Persian women; learn the legacy of his unorthodox strategy.
Socrates' Dilemma (05:51)
In 400 BC, war and social conflict plagued Athens' democracy. After challenging the open society, the philosopher was arrested—raising the question of dissidence in democracy that we still face today.
Credits: Age of Empire: History of the World (00:32)
Credits: Age of Empire: History of the World
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