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The Great Pyramids

Curse of the Ancients with Alice Roberts: Episode Guide

Alice Roberts explores the catastrophic events that decimated ancient civilisations, prompted massive human migration and ultimately shaped the modern world.

Curse of the Ancients with Alice Roberts airs Mondays at 9pm, only on Sky HISTORY. Professor Alice Roberts reveals how scientists are unearthing the evidence of cataclysmic past events and their disastrous consequences. While ancient societies couldn’t truly understand the causes of their plight and thought themselves cursed, the series determines the true reasons behind these occurrences by using modern science.

It spans the period from 6200 BCE when the global Neolithic migrations were sparked by rising sea levels, to 1486 CE and the advent of the age of exploration that gave rise to the nations and societies we recognise today. In each episode Alice takes viewers on a journey of discovery to epic sites and landmarks which punctuated the rise and fall of the greatest civilisations in human history, including a lost Roman palace in Serbia, the mysterious abandoned city of Shivta in Israel, and the Spanish Iron Age hill fort of Mount Bernorio.

Along the way Alice will reveal the latest archaeological evidence of civilisation-ending calamities, including the devastating tsunami that changed the fate of 10,000 Ancient Britons, the volcanic eruption that sparked the beginning of the end for an entire Mediterranean civilisation, the results of the world’s most deadly pandemic, and the scene of Europe’s earliest battlefield.

Episode 1

Professor Alice Roberts charts the rise of civilisation from 6100BCE to the end of the Bronze Age. A time of great work in architecture, literature, and the arts, until most of these great civilisations suddenly collapsed, never to rise again, plunging the world into a dark age. Alice reveals how scientists are uncovering what happened to these civilisations - the devastating flood that separated Britain from Continental Europe; the cataclysmic volcanic eruption that wiped out Minoan civilisation; and the discovery of Europe’s earliest battlefield – throwing new light on disasters that shaped the world today.

Episode 2

Professor Alice Roberts looks at the rise of one of history’s greatest civilisations, the Roman Empire, asking, what was the secret to its success? Experts explore the empire, investigating newly discovered battlegrounds in Britain and Spain to find out how Rome defeated her enemies, making her one of the world’s first superpowers. Alice also discovers how Rome herself suffered military disaster in the forests of Germany, but how her eventual downfall was the enemy within – the decadence and misrule of the emperors that were Rome’s real curse.

Episode 3

The disastrous final days of the Roman Empire are examined in this episode, including the cataclysmic power vacuum following its collapse and the effects felt even beyond the Empire’s borders. Once known as the Dark Ages, this period saw kingdoms rise and fall, cities wiped out by invasion, and plague ravage Europe and the Middle East. Despite these disasters, archaeologists are revealing a world where trade continued, cultures flourished, and new world religions emerged and spread. Alice reveals how humankind continued to prosper even during the darkest of times.

Episode 4

Professor Alice Roberts reveals how archaeologists are shedding light on one of history’s most mysterious periods. For three hundred years after the collapse of Rome, Saxons and Vikings rampaged through Europe, but then these pagan societies seemed to disappear. From new discoveries of Viking settlements and burials in Scandinavia, to the last stand of paganism against Christendom in Poland, Alice reveals the catastrophes, calamities and disasters which helped shape modern Europe.

Episode 5

In the final episode of Curse of the Ancients, Professor Alice Roberts looks at one of the most cursed periods in European history - the Middle Ages. Archaeologists reveal how wars, such as the Mongol invasion of Hungary, the Black Death that wiped out up to half of Europe’s population, and climate change causing cataclysmic floods – turned our ancestors’ world upside down. Death was a part of everyday life. With such calamities, Western society was on the verge of collapse. So how did it survive, and how did these catastrophes lay the foundation for the modern world?