As we approach the weekend, many of us history fanatics like to relax and learn about our favourite historical periods. However, it can be difficult to know what documentaries are good quality and what is worth watching when there are so many out there. Here at Pax Romana, we’re passionate about sharing ancient history and making it accessible to all. So, here are 5 ancient history documentaries – some you’ve heard of and some you haven’t – to watch this weekend.
Secrets of the Saqqara Tomb – Netflix
We talked about this documentary when it first came out on our social medias but it’s worth mentioning again! The discovery of a large tomb at Saqqara in 2019 that featured a mummified lion cub, amongst other treasures, was a landmark in Egyptology. This documentary shows not only the international dig teams, but the many Egyptian experts that ran the operation. The local experts show us the connection between this past and the Egyptian people who live in the area and take pride in their history today.
Meet the Romans with Mary Beard – BBC iPlayer
In terms of British documentaries on Rome – Mary Beard’s series are a corner stone! What we especially love about her documentaries at Pax Romana is that she looks at the lives of everyday Romans. Episode three especially considers what they used in the home, how they ate and how they got dressed in the morning. It reminds us that people just like us made up these ancient civilisations!
Wu Zetian, The Empress Who Ruled the World – YouTube
Brought to us by the people at Absolute History, this documentary is a bit specific but follows the story of Wu Zetian a de-facto ruler of China near the end of the Tang Dynasty. What makes her so notable is that she is the only ruling female monarch in the history of Ancient China! Stories like hers can get buried in tales of empire and politics – so we love a documentary like this that focuses on such a unique tale!
The Caliph – Part One, Foundation – Al Jazeera, YouTube
If you’ve heard of Al Jazeera before it’s probably through their news coverage of the middle east, but did you know they make documentaries too? It might seem like an unusual place to search for a history program, but this title was recommended by many history viewers! It’s a three-part docuseries but this first program covers the first Islamic empires – such as the Seljuks. It looks at how they grew and innovated during what we often refer to as the ‘dark ages’ in Western Europe!
The Indus Valley Civilisation – Masters of the River – YouTube
We’ve all heard of the Ancient Egyptians, Ancient China and Ancient Rome – but what about the Indus Valley? Despite it being one of the oldest great world civilisations, many people do not know about it. Originally aired in French and English, this documentary is recommend by Harappa.com. This is a site dedicated to the Indus Valley and telling its history. Do bear in mind it was filmed quite a while ago, so excuse the camera quality! However, this is a great documentary to start with to learn about this fascinating period of world history.
Let us know if you choose to watch any of these and if you do, what you learn from it! Here at Pax Romana we’re planning to keep posting educational content about both history and antiquities. So stay tuned and sign up to our mailing list to learn more!