Building the Ancient City: Athens and Rome

The supposed first city of a million inhabitants was built two thousand years ago. But how did ancient Athens and ancient Rome function without the modern comforts we have today?

Journey back to the age of Classical Antiquity in Europe and join Professor Wallace-Hadrill as we unravel the history and archaeology of these ancient cities.

Episode 1: Athens

Episode 1: Athens

Athens, the cradle of democracy, has been inhabited for well over 5.000 years. Roughly 2.500 years ago, however, the city became known for running on an ideology where free citizens would dictate how it was governed.

It was an ideology where every aspect of daily life in the city, along with military coordination, waste disposal and trade, was chosen for the people, by the people.

Dig into the past of Athens with Professor Wallace-Hadrill in episode one, as we travel to Greece to see the remnants of the great city – along with its history and archaeological findings.

Episode 2: Rome

Episode 2: Rome

Rome was the world’s first ancient megacity. At a time when few towns could number more than 10,000 inhabitants, more than a million lived in Rome.

But in a world without modern technology, how on earth did the Romans do it? How did they feed their burgeoning population, how did they house them, and how did they get them into town without buses or trains? How on earth did the Romans make their great city work?

In the final episode of the series, Professor Andrew Wallace-Hadrill takes us up ancient tower blocks, down ancient sewers, and above 2,000-year-old harbour basins still filled with water, to find out.

He reveals how this city surpassed all those from the ancient world that had gone before.

Last but not least, Professor Wallace-Hadrill uncovers the secret of Rome’s success – the planning still captured on pieces of an 1,800-year-old marble map of the city, a map which shows that astonishingly, in many places, the street plan of Ancient Rome mirrors that of the city today in exact detail.

Building the Ancient City: Athens and Rome
  • Info
  • Release date2015
  • Full runtime
  • Director(s)Paul Elston
  • Production companyMagellanTV