Category: jonathan-yeomans

King Tut TV: New Tutankhamun Series Starts on Channel Five

A mummy featured in Tutankhamun: The Mystery RevealedA new series exploring the life of Tutankhamun begins this week on UK TV channel Five. The four-part documentary Tutankhamun: The Mystery Revealed begins this Wednesday 19th May.

Fronted by Dr Zahi Hawass, the series sees a team of researchers apply new forensic techniques to the study of Tutankhamuns remains. For the first time ever, archaeologists employed DNA testing on the pharaohs mummy and on his family.

Tutankhamun:The Mystery Revealed

Originally shown on the Discovery Channel under the title King Tut Unwrapped, the series capitalises on a whole string of unanswered questions that continue to cloud our understanding of this most famous of pharaohs.

Tutankhamun is one of the worlds icons, but beyond the golden fortune, what is known about this shadowy figure? Who were his mother and father? Why have their bodies never been found? Can historians piece together the details of his life and death and explain why his mummification is so strange?

Episode one in the series focuses on the first-ever DNA extraction from King Tuts mummy. Using the results of the DNA sample, the second instalment follows the team as they attempt to identify and locate the Tut’s parents. Part three examines the fate of Tutankhamuns wife. Where was she buried, and did she have any children? The final episode probes the circumstances surrounding the boy kings death.

Five have a good track record in history programming and their series Secrets of Egypt picked up good ratings for the channel at the start of last year. This investigation on Tutankhamun is one of the most thorough yet and Five’s screening will help bring the results to a wider audience. It will be interesting to hear what HK users make of it.

Tutankhamun: The Mystery Revealed, previously called King Tut Unwrapped, begins this Wednesday 19th May at 8.00pm.

Day Trips from London For History Fans

London Wall 10The south east of England has been at the centre of British history for two thousand years. There are hundreds of heritage sites within striking distance of London that can be easily visited in a day. Tracking out from the historic Roman heart of the city, here are some of my suggestions

Within 2 Miles of the Centre

Why not start where it all began? London wall was built by the Romans in around 200 AD. It lasted over 1,000 years and helped define the shape of the medieval city. One of the few remaining chunks of wall can be seen on Noble Street, a short walk from St Pauls tube station.

Further south, across the road from Cannon Street Station, is the London Stone. This ancient rock is believed to date from Roman times, although the medieval scribe Geoffrey of Monmouth attributed its origins to the mythical Brutus of Troy.
The AmphitheatreIn 1988, archaeologists excavated the remains of Londons Roman amphitheatre. The amphitheatre is now part of the Guildhall Art Gallery, near Bank Station.

A short walk from Bank, off Queen Victoria Street, is the Temple of Mithras. Dating from the 3rd century AD, the temple was dedicated to the Persian god of light and the sun. It was discovered on Walbrook Street in 1954 by construction workers, who moved it to its present site.

Heading west, on the Strand, lie the remains of a Roman bath. It can be viewed through a grille or you can make an appointment with the National Trust to see the interior.

Map of Heritage Sites in and Around London

Within 10 Miles of the Centre

For a breath of fresh air, why not take a stroll through the pleasant environs of Greenwich Park, which boasts not only the famous maritime museum but also Roman remains and an Anglo Saxon burial site.

The leafy suburb of Kingston-upon-Thames is home to the Coronation Stone. Legend has it this ancient stone was used in the coronation of seven different Anglo Saxon kings in the tenth century. It now stands on a plinth outside Kingston guildhall on the high street. Frequent trains run from London Waterloo to Kingston. While in Kingston, its always worth paying a visit to nearby Hampton Court Palace, home of Henry VIII.

Horsenden Hill in the borough of Ealing has a history dating back to the Iron Age. Recent excavations indicate there was hilltop fort on the site. Today the park boasts impressive views of the surrounding area. Sudbury Town tube on the Picadilly Line is the closest stop.

Slightly further north in the borough of Harrow is a lozenge-shaped stone known as the Weald Stone. This sarsen boundary stone lends its name to the local area and station, as well as the Wealdstone Inn opposite. The stone was well known in Tudor times but its exact origins are unknown. A trip to this area can also encompass Harrow Park and the leafy streets of Harrow-on-the-Hill.

Within 50 Miles of the Centre

Colchester Castle, EssexSouth of London, near Coulsdon, lie the Farthing Downs. This beautiful chalk grassland includes Anglo Saxon tumuli, an Iron Age field system, abundant wildlife and fine views of the city. The nearest station is Coulsdon South.

The picturesque village of Banstead, near the North Downs, boasts a 12th-century church, a medieval well and Saxon barrows. Regular trains depart from London Victoria.

North of London, the village of Wheathampstead in Hertfordshire is home to Devils Dyke, an ancient ditch built by the Catuvellauni tribe. The town is a short drive from Welwyn Garden City.

The market town of St Albans boasts a number of key heritage sites. Verulamium Museum stands on the site of one of Roman Britains major towns and boasts a wealth of information and displays, as well as open-air excavations. The site includes the mosaic floor of a large house and a Roman theatre dating from 160 AD. Trains run from London St Pancras.

Chelmsford in Essex has a history dating back thousands of years. Chelmsford Museum hosts a special exhibition encompassing the towns history from the Iron Age through to Norman times. Chelmsford is on the train line from Liverpool Street.

Returning full circle to another seat of Roman power, 50 miles from London lies Colchester in Essex, the first Roman capital of Britain. Sites of interest include a Roman wall, built in 60 AD following Boudiccas rebellion, a Norman castle and a Roman circus.

Watch our AWiL explorers visiting several of these sites, and venturing out as far as Stonehenge and Hadrian’s Wall in the Ancient World in London video series. Have we missed out your favourite? Suggest an historical day trip destination as a comment below and win 10 Heritage Key points.

Bettany Hughes’ TV Tour of the Ancient World Starts on More4

Bettany Hughes will be presenting a series of documentaries as part of More4's Ancient World season. Image Copyright - Channel 4.Channel 4’s digital channel More4 has kicked off a juicy seven-week series of documentaries fronted by historian Bettany Hughes. The Ancient World began on Wednesday 24 March with a new film about Alexandria, the city founded by Alexander the Great in 332BC. Hughes travelled to Egypt in search of the city’s ancient origins, delved beneath the streets and explored the sunken ruins that are all that remain of what was once the largest city in the world.

Alexandria is one of the world’s greatest ancient cities. It’s a hugely fascinating place and a topic ripe for exploration. For centuries it was a centre of science and learning. Its lighthouse was once one of the SevenWonders of the World (see if you can pinpoint where the others are in this fun online game), and was even taller than the Great Pyramid.

As Hughes explains in her film, Alexandrian scientists were the first to accurately chart the movements of the planets and suggest that the Earth travelled around the sun. They measured the circumference of the Earth using nothing more than pure mathematical theory and a bunch of sticks, and developed the astrolabe, which interpreted the movements of the stars for navigation.

The cast of characters in the documentary reads like a whos who of the ancient world, from famous figures such as Julius Caesar and Cleopatra, to the Greek general Ptolemy and the female mathematician and philosopher Hypatia played by Rachel Weisz in the upcoming feature film Agora, which also charts the rise of St Cyril and the eventual downfall of Alexandria, culminating in the destruction of its legendary library.

Bettany Hughes – The Face of TV History

The<br /> Minoans is a 2004 series also presented by Bettany Hughes. Image<br /> Copyright - Channel 4.

Channel 4/More4 excel at these types of documentaries and Bettany Hughes has emerged in recent years as the face of ancient world programming. Previous credits include The Seven Ages of Britain, which screened on Channel 4 in 2003.

Oxford-educated Hughes is currently a research fellow at Kings College London. Her enthusiastic and thoughtful presenting style makes her an ideal tour guide to the ancient world (her brother, incidentally, is TV cricket pundit Simon Hughes who brings a similarly insightful perspective to his field of interest).

The Ancient World is more a season, rather than a series. If you havent caught Bettany Hughess programmes before, it helpfully brings them together for the first time. The run includes her 2004 series The Minoans, charting the history of Bronze Age society on Crete, and her 2005 film Helen of Troy, which accompanied her critically acclaimed book of the same name.

Fans of the bloody sword-and-sandals caper 300, starring Gerard Butler, might also want to check out Hughess three-part film The Spartans. Director Zack Snyder has cited this documentary as a key inspiration for 300, and Hughes was interviewed for the making of feature on the 300 DVD.

Other programmes in the Ancient World Season include Athens: The Truth about Democracy and When the Moors Ruled in Europe, covering Islamic rule in Spain and Portugal.

In total, the seven-week season spans around 3,000 years of history no mean feat for one historian and constitutes pretty much required viewed for anyone with a passing interest in the ancient world. Which, if youre reading this, is probably you…

The Ancient World Episodes and Broadcast Dates:

  • 24 March – Alexandria: The Greatest City
  • 31 March – Engineering Ancient Egypt
  • 7 April – The Minoans
  • 14 April – Helen of Troy
  • 21 April – The Spartans (three-part series)
  • 28 April – Athens: The Truth About Democracy (two-part series)
  • 5 May – When the Moors Ruled in Europe

Let us know in the comment box below what you think of the series as it progresses, and check our publications section for more books and DVDs about the ancient world. If you’d like to review these programmes or any books or films for us, contact us and let us know.

You can also join our debate about edutainment, and take part in our Bloggers Challenge on the subject of sex, guns and education (do you need the first two to persuade kids to engage in the latter?)