This spectacular episode explores the extraordinary powers and civilizations that have emerged from central Asia. First the Seljuk Turks took on the Byzantines, pushing their way into Anatolia. In a cave in Cappadocia we discover a long lost painting that reveals how the two cultures co-existed. We follow the Mongol invasions – in Bukhara we explore its destruction and in Esfahan, Iran we see how the Mongols eventually converted to Islam and began to settle.
Then in Uzbekistan again the episode traces the rise of Timur and explores the glories of Samarkand. Finally we follow the successors of Timur as they spread south into India, creating the wonders of the Mughal Empire.
East to West is an exciting seven part series charting the birth and flourishing of civilization in the Near and Middle East, and its huge influence on the West. A largely untold story, and a fresh perspective, the series charts the spread of civilisation across the globe from the first cities of Mesopotamia. For crucial phases in world history the key place was the Middle East – an extraordinary region that was a political, economic and cultural centre and a bridge between the continents of Asia, Africa and Europe. EAST TO WEST tells a complex story encompassing vast empires and covering three continents. An epic journey of discovery – from the East to the West.
In this episode we reveal how a golden age of invention and scholarship thrived in the Islamic World at a time when Europe lingered in the dark age. We see how Muslim scholars brought together for the first time the ideas of the Greeks and Romans with Persian and Indian mathematics and astronomy, and developed them into the beginnings of modern Science.
We trace the origins of the Arabs and Islam, from nomadic Bedouins to the sophisticated Nabataean cultures at Petra and the magnificent city of Palmyra. We then follow the story of the Prophet Mohammed in Mecca and the spread of the empire through the Middle East and North Africa. This episode balances the usual images of fanatical jihadis, to reveal the surprisingly peaceful and tolerant process by which the Islamic empire spread. We travel from Mecca to Damascus, Jerusalem to Cairo, Fez to Cordoba.
Today one god is worshipped by two thirds of humanity. It is the culmination of an extraordinary story by which a single deity emerged from a pantheon of thousands in the crucible of religious ideas that was the ancient Middle East. In this episode we trace the birth, development and explosion of the religion of Abraham and Moses, from its very beginnings in Judaism to its triumph as Christianity within the Roman Empire. We also look at the earliest form of monotheism, as devised by Akhenaten in ancient Egypt.
This episode follows the birth of civilisation in Anatolia and the Middle East. We go back to the very beginnings, when hunter-gatherers pause in Gobekli Tepe and start to build the world’s first structures around 12,000 years ago. Then we follow the first stages of civilisation: the rise of agriculture, governance and writing in Mesopotamia. We visit ancient Babylon (Iraq) and Mari (Syria) to explore the world’s earliest cities. The latter part of the episode explores Alexander’s arrival in Troy and his conquest of the Persian Empire – a journey that made him realise what he owed to the East. In Miletus remarkable new finds show that the Greek god Aphrodite began as the eastern god Ishtar.