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Series Info

Episodes: 8

Length: 15 min.

Grade Levels:
7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12

Social Studies


Cultural Legacies of Ancient Civilizations

Through dramatic re-creations, 3-D animations, insightful scripts, and worldwide location footage, this series connects both action events and key concepts that shaped each of the great Ancient Civilizations. It will grab students’ attentions in a way no printed material can, giving them the sense of lives being led that reveal philosophical, political, economic, religious, and social ideas in each culture. It also compels higher level thinking skills by challenging viewers to analyze some of the universal historical conflicts between ideals and real events.

Downloadable Teacher Guides
Episode 1:Egyptians: Conflicting Visions of Immortality
Episode 2:Greeks: Olympic Mind-Body Legacy
Episode 3:Incas: Oppression Self-Destroys an Empire
Episode 4:Khmers: Creating Heaven on Earth
Episode 5:Mayans: Deception by Temple Rituals
Episode 6:Minoans: Public Peace and Ritual Violence
Episode 7:Phoenicians: The Alphabet and Carthage’s Hannibal
Episode 8:Romans: Inclusive Conquest and Loyal Citizens

Episode Guide

1. Egyptians: Conflicting Visions of Immortality — The Egyptian pharaohs tried to create immortality for their god-king legacy. They attempted it with mummification and huge tombs, but grave robbers and time destroyed most of these. Still, many images and mummies remain, but one pharaoh’s legacy, Akhenaton’s, was deliberately obliterated by polytheistic priests because his monotheism threatened their power. Length: 0:17:32

2. Greeks: Olympic Mind-Body Legacy — Like the Phoenicians, the Greeks were a collection of city-states during their great Hellenic period. And even though they often made war on each other, during each Olympic Games celebration every four years, they sublimated their violence into a fusion of mind and body worship dedicated to their chief god, Zeus. Length: 0:14:37

3. Incas: Oppression Self-Destroys an Empire — Like the Romans, the Incas conquered a large number of cultures, binding them together with a network of roads. The Incas also showed remarkable engineering skills in buildings and terraced farming fields, as at Machu Picchu. But, the Inca impatience for power is revealed in their ruthless oppression of the defeated peoples.  Length: 0:15:17

4. Khmers: Creating Heaven on Earth — The Khmer Empire, now modern Cambodia, was largely unknown until the 19th century discovery of the ruins of Angkor Wat, an astonishing temple complex. Long abandoned, its huge and beautiful symmetry reveals it as an attempt to create a Hindu concept of Heaven, here on earth. Yet it also reveals a society where peasants and artisans supported an absolute ruler. Length: 0:14:01

5. Mayans: Deception by Temple Rituals — The Mayan Empire was supported by sophisticated mathematical and astronomical knowledge. These ideas were integrated with their religious sacrificial practices, as in their life or death ball games. The theme of blood sacrifice to the gods was supposedly symbolized by the shedding of the king’s blood, but the ritual piercing of his body was a sham, carried out by temple priests in secret, enforcing his power through subterfuge.  Length: 0:11:41

6. Minoans: Public Peace and Ritual Violence — The Minoans, a prosperous, peaceful island people of the Mediterranean region, influenced the Greeks, as seen in the Greek Minotaur and Theseus myth. Minoan art suggests a totally peaceful life without war, with violence sublimated in their bull worship rituals. Females seem to have been more influential here than anywhere else in the Ancient World. Yet, recent archaeological discoveries suggest that secret sacrifices, led by women, were part of their religious rituals. Length: 0:17:30

7. Phoenicians: The Alphabet and Carthage’s Hannibal — The Phoenicians did not create an empire, but several city-states such as Byblos and Carthage. They were very successful seafaring traders. Their most influential legacy is the creation of a simple alphabet for business transactions. Its structure was adopted by the Greeks, Romans and other Western languages, including English. Eventually, though, Carthage’s Hannibal challenged the Romans for supremacy of the Mediterranean, and lost everything. Length: 0:15:50

8. Romans: Inclusive Conquest and Loyal Citizens — The Romans ruthlessly conquered Carthage and the rest of the Mediterranean region, but also gained the allegiance of most of the people they subdued. How? By giving them citizenship and including them in the benefits of empire, best exemplified by one of Rome’s good emperors, Hadrian. This intelligent, if self-serving political organization, along with a well-run bureaucracy, helped Rome last hundreds of years longer than most empires. Length: 0:15:25

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