Think it was easy to build some of the engineering wonders o
Utah Blaine | Somewhere on Trexalon in District 268 | 01/30/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I've often vaguely wondered how much engineering went into building some of the marvels of the ancient world. As you'll learn from this series of DVDs, building these marvels was a great deal more complex than many imagine (certainly that I ever imagined). These DVDs contain five episodes from NOVA, originally broadcast in the late 90s. In each episode, modern craftsmen team with archaeologists in an effort to replicate the construction of buildings and other works created thousands of years ago. The idea is to use only tools and techniques that would have been available to the civilization that originally constructed the object. The teams can't use fork lifts, cranes, bucket trucks, or other modern pieces of equipment. Large blocks of stone must be moved and lifted with muscle power, simple winches, and pulleys. In this first set of DVDs, teams attempt to create a small pyramid, setup (i.e. upright) a small Egyptian obelisk initially laying on its side, replicate the canopy that covered the Coliseum, put the suspended rocks on the top of Stonehenge, and create a suspension bridge in the Incan Andes. After watching even one of these DVDs, you'll realize that there is a lot more to any of architectural wonders than you imagined. These DVDs are partly a basic physics/mechanical engineering lesson, partly a cultural history of the civilizations that built the objects, and partly a tale of man trying to use his brain to overcome nature. In each episode, the teams encounter expected and unexpected problems that sometimes they are able to overcome, but other times they aren't. Both the teams and the viewing audience develop a greater appreciation for some of the complexities by the end of each episode. This probably isn't everyone's cup of tea, but for those who are interested in thoughtful historical and technical problems, this series can't be beat. I found the episode about the Obelisk to be the best (although they are all good). I never realized that it would be so hard to place an obelisk up right. The episode about the canopy over the Coliseum is also great too. They had to call sail makers in to make the thing work. OK, so I found all the episodes fascinating. A little pricey at $35.99, but each time I watch this I learn something new. I'm happy to have this as part of my collection - thinking man's TV at it's best."