A five part series for Discovery and S4C narrated by Philip Madoc first shown in 1998. It uncovers the known facts about Ancient Egypt and gives an overview of the true story of the Ancient Egyptians and their beliefs.
Episode one ‘Chaos and Kings’ deals with the Pharaoh, a King believed to be a living god who had the power to keep chaos at bay. Ancient Egypt was in an eternal conflict between order and chaos. One example was the flooding of the Nile and drought. The episode traces the origins of Egyptian civilization including evidence of a seven thousand year old tomb and miniature ‘Stonehenge’ in the desert far away from the Nile in a time when the climate was much wetter. It also uncovers Ancient Egypt’s first cities, the first Kings and their first writings, and the world’s oldest dam.
Episode two ‘Pyramid: the Resurrection Machine’ deals with the Pharaoh’s vehicle to immortality. The oldest and the largest is the Great Pyramid. Built during the Old Kingdom and for over four thousand years was the tallest man-made structure on earth. During the episode we discover that there were numerous pyramids built all along the Nile from Cairo to Aswan and many more further up the river in present day Sudan which at the time was part of the kingdom of Ancient Egypt.
Episode three ‘Age of Gold’ covers the New Kingdom and Tutankhamun who was one of 14 kings that comprised Egypt’s 18th dynasty. It was a four hundred years period when Egypt’s Pharaohs were laid to rest in the Valley of the Kings and immense wealth fashioned and decorated their tombs. It’s time of very powerful pharaohs including Ramses the Great and an empire which included Nubia in northern Sudan which had the richest gold fields in the ancient world.
Episode four ‘Deities and Demons’ explores the complex and mysterious world of gods and beliefs in Ancient Egypt. It looks at the design of temples which were engineered like machines to keep the cycle of the universe in motion and chaos at bay. It unravels the journey into the afterlife and the spells created to make the journey a safe one. Also animal cults, where animals were used to represent deities and dream interpreters and oracles.
Episode five ‘Mummies into the Afterlife’ examines mummies and their legacy. It looks at the art of embalming in the ancient world. The Egyptians believed a person’s spirit survived after death, but it needed nourishment. If the body was unrecognizable, the spirit would go hungry and its afterlife would be in jeopardy. A mummy was an insurance policy against oblivion. We discover that thousands of mummies were taken from Egypt during the late 19th century, many of them used bizarrely for the meat packing industry and even fuel. But mummies also contain scientific evidence of the past and this evidence may help us understand modern diseases.