Subject: I have found a DVD that I think you would enjoy
|NOVA Secrets of Lost Empires 2|
Genres: Television, Educational, Documentary
Studio: Wgbh Wholesale Release Date: 01/29/2008 Run time: 280 minutes
Television at its best
Scott Chamberlain | Minneapolis, MN United States | 03/01/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I. Absolutely. Love. This. Series. Maybe even more than its predecessor, which also holds a place of honor in my collection.
The premise of the show is fantastic: let's see if we can re-construct some of the greatest wonders of the ancient world. The technical know-how of how, for example, the great stone heads of Easter Island were made and raised is long gone... so NOVA brings together top archaeologists, anthropologists and modern day engineers to examine the evidence, sift through clues and come up with their best ideas. And then they put their ideas to the test in real-world settings. All this creates great TV: will these ideas work? Will that hair-brained, overly-designed contraption actually collapse under its own weight? Will overstressed scientists, realizing this IS their 15 minutes of fame, actually get into a fist fight?
What makes the second season slightly more enjoyable than the first is the improved production values, the unexpected engineering marvels and the completely overblown egos of the scientists. The production was certainly high before, but experience meant that the shows were slightly better paced and more dramatic--they seemed to tell a *story* better as a documentary. This season brought up some very different marvels--for example, the China Bridge episode was completely unknown to me, and all the more fascinating for it. I was also happy to see the obligatory episode on the Romans didn't look at one of the more familiar architectural marvels, but the unexpected (and HIGHLY complex) Roman Bath. And the egos were bigger than before. Wow. I thought the Easter Island people were going to start chest-butting each other, and it was comical to watch the bridge building "expert" for the China Bridge episode keep insisting his ideas were right, even after each was shown to be catastrophically wrong.... A final improvement: the obelisk episode gives closure to a challenge that eluded the team in the previous season.
A number of programs on the History Channel and Discover Channel, including "Engineering an Empire," look at how the ancients built such enduring wonders. This NOVA program is for my money the best of the best... the hands-on approach of using modern engineers to help build them makes these wonders more real, and the pressures of competing against different teams with different models (or just against the clock) gives the programs a dramatic edge that computer-generated graphics just can't compete against.
Highly recommended for armchair archaeologists, travelers, and anyone curious about how things work. Now, if NOVA could be persuaded to produce a third season....
EASTER ISLAND - a look at how the ancients carved, moved and set up these massive stone heads. Also looks at the long-terms consequences of these projects on the environment and society.
CHINA BRIDGE - how do you make a curved arch bridge with straight timbers? Scientists explore these fascinating "woven" bridges from ancient times.
ROMAN BATH - the bath was a complex marvel, with underground furnaces and pluming that heated specific rooms in addition to the water. Every respectable house in ancient Rome had one of these--a level of sophistication we wouldn't see again until the 20th century.
PHARAOH'S OBELISK - a re-attempt to raise these massive, but delicate stone needles. How can you stand it upright, without the weight cracking it in half? Could the final answer be the simplest idea of all?
MEDIEVAL SIEGE - the most powerful war weapon of the Middle Ages was a machine that threw huge boulders. Built on the fly and dismantled after the attack, they were ephemeral, but changed the course of several countries' histories. None survive, how did they work?