British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

Chronicle Collection - Archaeology on Television

Synopsis
From 1966 to 1990, the BBC’s landmark archaeology series Chronicle took viewers around the world to explore historical excavations and discover long-gone cultures and civilisations. With a mix of live broadcasts and filmed documentaries, Chronicle brought some of the greatest archaeologists of the 20th century into our homes. The programmes have not been seen for many years, but in 2010, as part of its policy of opening up its Archive, the BBC has made a selection of excerpts and complete programmes available for free viewing via the BBC Archive website.
Featured programmes cover topics including the fall of Constantinople, the Minoan civilisation, Silbury, Brunel’s SS Great Britain, Stonehenge, the Mayans, the Rosetta Stone, Sutton Hoo, the Bronze Age site at Phylakopi, lHatra in Iraq, the lost city of the Incas,and African slaves in America.
Series
Chronicle, Series
Language
English
Country
Great Britain
Year of release
2010
Notes
Article in Viewfinder 79 by Don Henson.
Subjects
Archaeology
Keywords
archaeological investigation; archive television; Incas; Iraq; Maya; slavery; Stonehenge; Sutton Hoo; Rosetta Stone; archaeological sites; Minoan civilisation; Silbury Hill; SS Great Britain

Online availability

URI
http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/chronicle/index.shtml
Price
free
Delivery
Streamed

Sections

Title
Roman Goose March
Synopsis
How far can a goose walk in a day? Glyn Daniel recruits Olympic gold medal winner Ann Packer to find out how long it would have taken to walk geese from northern Gaul to Rome. This march, which was described by the Roman writer Pliny in his ‘Natural History’ in the 1st Century AD, also serves as a practical demonstration of how keen the Romans were on their version of foie gras. First broadcast 31 December 1966.
Duration
10 mins

Title
Fall of Constantinople, The
Synopsis
John Julius Norwich tells the dramatic story of the fall of Constantinople and the Byzantine Empire, followed by the rise of the Ottoman Turks in the 15th Century. Using monuments in Istanbul to show the formidable artistic and intellectual achievements of the Byzantines, Norwich vividly describes the last scenes of Greek Orthodox Christianity from within the Hagia Sophia. First broadcast 25 November 1967.
Duration
33 mins

Title
Last Days of Minos
Synopsis
Was the legend of the Minotaur inspired by the worship of bulls at Knossos on Crete? Does the volcanic island of Santorini provide clues about the fabled city of Atlantis? Magnus Magnusson investigates through a detailed tour of Knossos and its archaeological finds, which date from 1700 to 1380BC. He also explores the extraordinary life of Sir Arthur Evans, the archaeologist who discovered Knossos and the Minoan civilisation. First broadcast 23 December 1967.
Duration
49 mins

Title
Silbury Dig: The Heart of the Mound
Synopsis
Silbury is one of the largest prehistoric earthworks in Europe, possibly dating to 2400BC. In this programme, originally broadcast live, Magnus Magnusson meets the archaeologists who have uncovered a tunnel that leads into the heart of the mound. First broadcast on 27 July 1968.
Duration
39 mins

Title
Great Iron Ship, The
Synopsis
One of the great engineering masterpieces created by Isambard Kingdom Brunel had been left to rot in the South Atlantic since 1937. This is the story of how SS Great Britain was rescued from the icy shores of the Falkland Islands and why it is so important to 19th-Century maritime and engineering history. The ‘Chronicle’ film crew are on hand to record the breathtaking efforts of the rescuers, who remove the enormous hulk from the South Atlantic and transport her on a final journey that ends with her passing under the Clifton Suspension Bridge into Bristol. First broadcast on 13 June 1970
Duration
50 mins

Title
Cracking the Stone Age Code
Synopsis
Professor Alexander Thom puts forward his theory that Stonehenge and other megalithic sites were used to record time and predict solar and lunar eclipses. Magnus Magnusson looks at Thom’s evidence and hears what different archaeologists think of the suggestion that Stone Age Britons could make such elaborate calculations. If Thom’s theory is correct, previous archaeological certainties about the knowledge and ability of people in the Stone Age would be overturned. First broadcast 31 October 1970.
Duration
48 mins

Title
Lost World of the Maya, The
Synopsis
Eric Thompson, who has spent his life studying the ancient Maya and living with their descendants, guides Magnus Magnusson around Mayan sites and meanings. The golden age of the Maya was from 300 to 900AD and this programme takes a look at their stone artefacts, buildings, system of writing and religious rites, including human sacrifice. It also addresses contemporary problems, such as the looting of archaeological sites. First broadcast on 6 October 1972.
Duration
60 mins

Title
Key to the Land of Silence, The
Synopsis
The discovery of the Rosetta Stone in Egypt by Napoleon’s team of French scholars was key to the translation of hieroglyphics. This programme reveals how the stone came to the British Museum and its importance for understanding both the ancient Egyptian language and Egypt’s culture. Dating from the Greek period of rule in Egypt (330 to 30BC), the stone offers a translation of ancient Egyptian through its carved text in three different scripts: hieroglyphs, demotic Egyptian and Greek. First broadcast on 8 March 1977.
Duration
50 mins

Title
Aphrodite’s Other Island
Duration
49 mins

Title
Tomb of the Lost King
Duration
48 mins

Title
Lost Kings of the Desert
Duration
49 mins

Title
Lost City of the Incas
Duration
59 mins

Title
Sutton Hoo
Duration
48 mins

Title
Digging for Slaves
Duration
49 mins

Production Company

Name

BBC Television

Distributor

Name

BBC Archive

Web
http://www.bbc.co.uk/archive/ External site opens in new window

Record Stats

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