The Ascendancy of the Roman Empire (Complete Episode) | Drain the Oceans – Video

The Ascendancy of the Roman Empire (Complete Episode) | Drain the Oceans – Video

The Rise of the Roman Empire is a fascinating topic that continues to captivate historians and archaeologists. In this full episode of Drain the Oceans, National Geographic unearths the secrets of the survival of the Roman Empire from beneath the waves of the Mediterranean and the soil of the Italian peninsula. This episode takes viewers on a journey to discover the real secrets of the Empire’s power, exploring how its mastery of the sea and control of the trade routes were essential to its dominance.

The Roman Empire, for five centuries, dominated the Western world, offering a sight of luxury excess and the ever-present danger of conflict and war. It was a superpower that demanded the allegiance of over 16 million people from Britain in the north all the way to the Middle East. Maintaining control of the sea was essential for Rome, as the capital city faced the challenge of feeding a population of over 1 million. In fact, without the influx of grain, Rome would struggle to maintain its power and authority.

The episode delves into intriguing discoveries, including the remains of a lost port 15 miles inland, where expert teams are working to piece together the puzzle of how Rome handled the monumental task of ensuring supplies reached the capital. Archaeologists and researchers explore the ruins and a mysterious lake that hints at a complex infrastructure created by the Roman Emperors. There are also discoveries of well-preserved Roman vessels buried on land that gives insight into the grandeur of the ancient port.

With accurate data and astonishing technology, National Geographic brings to light a lost world and offers a glimpse into the scale and ambition of the Roman Empire. The episode ultimately reveals the astounding feats of engineering and infrastructure that enabled Rome to grow from a fortified settlement to a powerful superpower. It showcases how the rise of the Roman Empire was intricately tied to its mastery of the sea and control of the trade routes.

The Rise of the Roman Empire is a story that is brought to life through the lens of cutting-edge technology and the expertise of historians, archaeologists, and experts. The episode offers an engaging and immersive experience, shedding light on the secrets that lay beneath the waves of the Mediterranean and the ancient soil of the Italian peninsula.

Watch the video by National Geographic

Video Transcript

Where Emperors Reign and Gladiators entertain sight of luxury excess and the everpresent danger of the M for five centuries Rome dominates the Western world but the real secret of the Empire’s power lies elsewhere beneath the Seas it once commanded without the sea and without controlling the Trad rits of the sea

There would have been no Empire imagine if we could empty the oceans letting the water drain away to reveal the secrets of the seaf Flor now we can using accurate data and astonishing technology to bring light once again to a lost world how does a mysterious Lake miles from

The city explain Rome’s Mastery of the Mediterranean it was built on a scale unlike anything else only the Roman emperors were this ambitious what can a maritime graveyard Unearthed in an Italian field tell us of Rome’s one great weakness and how does a lost Marvel on a distant medit anean Shore explain Rome’s

Greatest ever feat of engineering the Romans took technology to a whole another level when the Great historian Livy sets out to write the story of his City he knows it all comes down to location Gods and Men together chose this place Hills with pure air a convenient River a sea handy for our

Needs all these advantages marked us out for Glory Rome is the world’s first superpower but it doesn’t start that way over the course of 500 years it grows from a fortified settlement to a powerful Republic and finally an Empire demanding the allegiance of over 16 million people from Britain in the north

Down the coast of Africa and into the Middle East East Rome’s power rests on the unrivaled might of its Army and Engineering skills that astonish its Rivals but that’s not all so everyone thinks they know the story of the Roman Empire and it’s a story of

Of Legions and of roads and of building massive structures but the key really was control of the sea controlling the sea is essential because Rome struggles to feed its People by the first century ad the population of the capital swells to 1 million the largest city the world has ever Seen and if those people go hungry they Riot well Rome is dependent on obtaining about 150 to 300 million tons of grain annually to keep the population fed if you were an emperor you wanted to be seen as someone who was providing for the population so really without that

Grain coming in they couldn’t hold on to power how the Emperors managed this has long puzzled historians but now buried underground and Miles Inland an extraordinary Discovery could unlock lock the mystery Rome’s challenge isn’t shipping grain from the Empire it’s getting it to the city itself 15 miles from the

Sea there must have been a huge Port somewhere on the coast or Inland up the river Tyber but its whereabouts are a mystery today International Teams are trying to piece together the puzzle of the Lost Port archaeologist Peter Campbell is determined to discover how Rome handled its biggest problem feeding nearly a

Million people would have been an incredible task to the ability to get that material from around the Mediterranean up to the city took just an incredible amount of human willpower and Labor you need Anchorage space you need Harbor facilities Simon K leads a group of experts who are studying the Lost Port you need the infrastructure to support them and you need the administrative framework um indeed to enable them to function Clues first Unearthed over a century ago are tantalizing the early

Sources are very very important they saw things they recorded them historical texts refer to a port without equal somewhere on the coast near the mouth of the Tyber established by the emperor Claudius by 46 ad and extended by the emperor Tran over 60 years later the Romans call it pis a single carved

Relief dating from the late 2nd Century ad hints at its magnificence but gives no sense of its true scale or how it Worked other sources speak of a hexagonal Basin at the center of a vast complex called the port ttis triani could evidence of it still survive 2,000 years Later Simon is convinced that it does about 15 miles south of Rome where he’s come to investigate strange ruins and a mysterious Lake it has six clearly defined sites and looks man-made it covers almost 880 Acres as large as 13 Roman coliseums joined together but there’s a problem it’s 2 miles from the

Mediterranean Coast could the heart of the legendary porise lie so far inland and where is the rest of it so little is known about the layout of the ancient Port it’s very very hard to understand how it all fits Together archaeologists survey close to the lake through here then you just get into different phases running down through there probing beneath the surface for any evidence about me m and a half I say for met to start hitting the water table Combining discoveries made here during past construction work and these new archaeological investigations it’s now possible to produce a new window into the past the mud and silt of 2,000 years drains away and 6 ft below the surface buried archaeological treasure The Remains Not of a port but something that might have used

It a boat from this field 2 miles from the coast four other vessels emerge into the light it’s an extraordinary discovery The archaeologists pour over the evidence and realize they are some of the most complete Roman vessels ever discovered it’s even possible to date one of them based on the construction features we can estimate that it dates the 2 Century ad in the second century the Roman Empire Empire is at its

Height if it ever needed a truly Grand Port this is the moment but if these beautifully preserved boats used this port why are they so far inland Peter Campbell finds more Evidence not far from The Wooden Boats the remains of what looks like a long low wall and it’s definitely Roman more surveys reveal this is just one section of an early 6,000 ft long structure now mostly hidden beneath the ground further archaeological work unearths a second wall curling back towards the first and deposits on the walls give a further clue if you walk along this structure

You can actually see calcium deposits at a certain level and it creates this white line along the length of it and those are actually marine concretions marine concretions are sediments that cling to structures at seawater level leaving a white mark this whole area close to the hexagonal Basin was once

Underwater it’s another astonishing find in Roman days this is where the coast was and the curving structures make up a huge protective Harbor this must be pis but one big question remains the city is 15 M further Inland connected to the Sea by the river Tyber and the mouth of the river is

Nearly 2 miles from pis so how did food ever get to Rome The architects who designed pis faced one key challenge feeding Rome’s million strong population so how does the harbor connect to the city 15 M away moving huge volumes of cargo by existing roads would have been costly and the most obvious route to Rome the river Tyber is too shallow for merchant Vessels studying the ancient boats dug up nearby Peter Campbell finds an important clue rather than having a v-shape as you would have with a seagoing ship this actually has a relatively flat bottom which would have allowed it to travel in much shallower Waters it was used within the harbor and up the

Tyber this vessel is an important piece of the puzzle in the network that connected the ocean to the city the harbor lies more than a mile from the banks of the Tyber How could a cargo carrying vessel reach the river Peter consults the archaeological surveys and spots a set of parallel

Lines near the hexagonal basis they look like the remains of a man-made channel the data reveal a major canal system connected poris Harbor to the Tyber an astonishing feat of Roman engineering if you look at the landscape of the River today there’s the main channel that we’re in right now

But in the past there would have been multiple other canals and we’ve only recently discovered those others uh through geoarchaeology the archaeologists Now understand the full scale of the poris complex and how it connects to Rome but there is still a mystery at the heart of the port beyond

The vast main Harbor lies the huge enclosed hexagonal basin apparently unique in the ancient world but what was it for today from the surface it seems like an ordinary Lake but by using the latest computer visualization techniques we can look deeper as the water seeps away it

Exposes not the muddy Bank of a natural lake but a crumbling brick wall similar walls support the other sides of the hexagon and then something startling a white block with a hole through the center one of dozens protruding from the brick work close by the remains of a

Column and just visible on it Roman symbols for the number 23 can ruins scattered nearby help reveal the hexagon’s purpose Simon K thinks so to his expert eye they are Roman and important we’re currently standing in one of the largest surviving buildings from pter the thick walls large enclosed space and a wide opening all point to one thing these are

Warehouses warehouses designed to store the most important commodity in the Roman Empire grain for the people of Rome they are the largest place of grain storage in the whole pis complex Making them the largest grain warehouses in the Roman Empire it’s now clear what the drained hexagonal lake is for moing rings for ships to unload a broad keyside surrounding the lake and the numbered column docking station one of dozens in the whole complex the hexagon is the heart of

Pis a purpose-built facility to manage dozens of cargo ships at a time Decades of archaeological work haven’t simply found some ancient docks and warehouses they’ve uncovered the secret to the success of Rome itself allowing us to understand exactly how the Emperors fed a million people now for the first time in almost

Two Millennia the true scale and Brilliance of pis is revealed in full approaching ships arrive at the outer harbor some more here others head further into the port to dock at numbered moing Rings The Great Basin can hold over a 100 vessels surrounding them another engineering Marvel and a hint of the

Majesty of Rome not only warehouses and harbor offices but giant temples and statues too the sheer volume of goods passing through ptis is beyond anything the world has ever seen while a host of smaller barges wait to Ferry cargo through the canals to the river Tyber and onto

Rome the hexagonal Basin at pis is the final crucial Link in the supply chain from the Empire to Rome itself the ultimate symbol of Rome’s Mastery of the seas in pis we’re seeing the Roman Empire at its height we’re seeing the first and 2 centuri ad they’re building

A massive port and it’s the most advanced it’s the most Monumental it’s the most spectacular port and it’s actually making a statement about Rome vessels from across the empire Empire flock to this engineering Marvel can the surprising cargo of one ship destined for pis explain how Rome survives one of its greatest ever Disasters the Mediterranean Super Highway of the Roman Empire for five centuries it’s crisscrossed by Merchant ships many carrying grain to pis very few have ever been found but off the coast of Spain near the city of Alicante an ancient shipwreck is discovered by two amateur divers Jose Bo and Antoine

Ferer Maritime archaeologists name it after them the B fer when Carlos Dean hears about it he sets out to discover More we have some evidence of a seere from Roman period uh right underneath where we are right Now it is absolutely emotional emotional moment and I felt that it was the beginning of Something 80 ft below the surface something rare and precious the bones of the B farer and the remains of her cargo Carlos thinks it’s Roman but is he right and what was she Carrying the Mediterranean empties and light pours once again onto this ancient and mysterious ship spread across the seafloor a mountain of amfor many completely intact despite lying at the bottom of the Mediterranean for many centuries the storage jars are used to carry food oil and wine in the ancient

World clear evidence that this is a Roman wreck the sheer number of amfor suggests she was an unus usually large cargo ship but little of her frame remains just a few Timbers from the hull have survived the ravages of time it is a great opportunity for the archaeology to learn more about the

Those big vessel those Merchant vessel of Roman period the fully drained remains reveal a shape that’s typical of a Roman merchant ship but much bigger than most pulling her skeleton together from the Bottom of the Sea we can recreate the bow forer as she was on the day she

Sank 30 ft wide and almost 100 ft long she’s larger than a tennis court capable of carrying over 200 tons of cargo we have other questions so we have to investigate inside of the shre so little remains of the ship Carlos must look to the cargo to learn

More the team raises some of the jars to the Surface each weighs nearly 140 lb on land they’re handled delicately and examined in minute Detail we start to discover some pottery fragments that had a a waterproof resin inside waterproof resin is a key clue it means the Amor carried liquid and in some of them ancient sediment from that liquid reveals something else Fishbones the amfor carry one of the most popular products of the Roman

Economy the superfood of the ancient world fish sauce known as garam well garum or fish sauce is basically a condiment that you would add to food to enhance its flavor as you would today as you would do with soy sauce or something like that and that’s because Roman food really was a bit

Bland and this is before they had tomatoes before they had pizza before they had you know the things we think of in terms of Italian food so the B fer was carrying fish sauce but where had it come from The shape of the amfor gives Carlos a clue we knew that that kind of anforas are related to the Fisheries from the south of Spain but where was the B ferer taking them returning to the drained wreck and removing layers of the amfor reveals further Evidence a secret cargo hidden for centuries on either side of the Keel strange metal Ingots the team prizes 22 of them from the wreck Each weighs 140 lb in the laboratory careful examination of the ingots reveals something unexpected the hidden cargo is not gold or silver it’s lead and there’s something else all the ingots found on B forer are stamped with the letters IM it’s the mark of the imperator the Latin word for emperor

Those marks are telling us that this uh ingots belongs to the emperor and that was like wow that was just the moment where the buerer change from such a large big Roman vessel to something absolutely different a vessel that has been able to link in the story of Rome the bow for a

Isn’t just another cargo ship it’s taking at least a ton of metal to the most powerful man in the world so which emperor could it be destined for and why does he need a boatload of Lead off the coast of Spain a remarkable Roman shipwreck called the bow forer conceals a secret C go a fortune in Le possibly destined for the emperor of Rome Himself the drained wreck holds clues that could reveal which emperor hidden among the afor are two weathered Coins The coins are made of bronze on one side a faint image almost invisible marks prove the coins were stamped around ad. 66 during the reign of one of the most infamous Emperors of them all Nero The information from the coins allows Carlos to do something even more remarkable date the sinking of the bow for rare to the time of one of Rome’s greatest disasters in 64 ad an inferno ravages the city for 6 days according according to Legend Nero plays his fiddle while his Capital

Burns whether that’s true or not the huge damage gives him the chance to rebuild the city in his own image The Great Fire of Rome destroyed about two-thirds of the city and there was a massive rebuilding campaign in the years that followed and they obviously needed the raw materials to do that lead

Was a very important part of that lead lines pipes in all kinds of Roman Plumbing like the luxurious bathouses enjoyed by the wealthy Elite Carlos believes the emperor’s Mark is evidence that this cargo is destined for Nero’s very own Palace the lavish domus Arya the golden House this means the inot belong to Nero himself and the bow ferer is sailing for pis so she likely sinks before Nero’s death in 68 Ad but there’s one final question why did the bo fer and her Imperial cargo fail to make it to pis the drained wreck offers some Clues the amfor are off center they’ve shifted towards the port side such a heavy cargo would never be loaded like

This so what could cause some 5,000 m to move Carlos believes that the bow for a runs into a storm a large wave strikes the hull causing the cargo to shift and the vessel to list to her port side making her impossible to steer and allowing more waves to come

Over her decks and slowly fill her hold and then you are done it’s a matter of time maybe 20 minutes maybe 1 hour bir you had Done as Rome Masters the Seas ships like Bo ferer are the Empire’s lifeblood carrying precious metals slaves and especially grain to and from pis and harbors all across the Mediterranean spreading the power and influence of Rome including a strategic base in modern-day Israel what the Romans called Judea its capital cesaria maritima

Stands at the crossroads of Africa and Asia to the Romans it’s the gateway to the riches of the East an important source of grain and exotic spices transporting these Treasures to Rome requires a harbor but there are major problems no natural inlets protect from waves a Sandy Coastline offers no solid

Footing for building and there’s a constant threat of Earthquakes but according to historical records two decades before the birth of Jesus Roman Engineers defy nature here they construct a grand offshore Harbor transforming cesaria into a wealthy trade Hub it’s a remarkable feat of engineering yet today it’s nowhere to be seen For decades investigators like National Geographic Explorer Beverly Goodman have been trying to find evidence we have a pretty good idea of what the harbor might have looked like because the historian flavus Josephus left us a record the entrance of the harbor had towers and statues you can kind of picture it being

This monumental Harbor comparable to something you would see in Rome but over the centuries the harbor disappears only traces of this great Roman Outpost remain scattered on dry land as for what’s left of the harbor itself the focus of Beverly’s investigation must be offshore what she finds underwater is promising but far from

Clear there’s a lot of uncertainty about which parts of the harbor are natural and which of them are the artificial features there are shapes that could be natural or man-made meticulous investigation reveals they’re resting on Sand there’s no natural B Redrock underneath it’s a sure sign they’re all

Man-made and could be part of the Lost Harbor everything that you look at you realize it was put there it was placed there and so then you start to think about that you start to really understand the scale of of what this place was like to work out the size and

Orientation of the ancient Harbor the team must first create a comprehensive sonar map of the Seafloor so this kind of survey is getting our Baseline Maps our basic information that from that we can go and find Targets combining years of diving surveys with these latest scans it’s possible to drain the waters from the Eastern Mediterranean and expose what’s left of the ancient Harbor of C ceria

Maritima for the first time in almost 2,000 years as the water recedes it lays be a strangely shaped structure on the seafloor this long Jagged mass of rock resembling a natural Reef stretches into the empty Basin opposite another wider Mass reaches out almost a third of a

Mile these are the remains of the breakwaters of a massive Port that Spann over 40 acres the harbor of cesaria maritima so how did the Romans build something so Monumental on nothing more than Sand over 2,000 years ago in Judea Romans perform an engineering Miracle at a place called cesaria maritima they construct the largest artificial Harbor in the ancient world revealed for the first time in centuries the foundation of the huge Harbor walls had to be built on shifting sand it seems an impossible

Task Beverly Goodman has come to the site of the ancient Harbor to take samples from its underwater Remains the team inserts a pipe deep into the seafloor to draw up traces from the past so we managed to get a Core in very deep next step is to open it see what we

Have inside see what surprises wait for us oh good all right we got quite a few changes we need to need to log here and take a look at wow this is kind of surprising I didn’t think it was going to have quite so much variation on the upper part of the core

We have this natural sediment we really have this period where the site is nearly abandoned for many many years then as we go down the core and we start to get periods where there’s actually people around we start to see more Pottery we start to see uh Rubble

We start to see changes that relate to the fact that people were there and they were influencing the environment they were building a sediment layer from the time of the harbor reveals a clue the rubble contains an unusual mineral a particular type of volcanic ash called pelana it’s not natural to this region

The source is over a th000 miles to the West the slopes of Mount Theus in Italy why bring pelana all this way the reason still lies on the seafloor of cesaria maritima traces of a revolutionary Roman invention a new kind of concrete we can actually see those

Elements of the concrete and know that this is the fingerprint of the presence of the Romans historical records reveal that Roman Engineers FY tons of posala to cesaria to imagine that they are shipping across the Mediterranean 2,000 years ago you know essentially barges that have volcanic ash coming from Italy

All the way across the Mediterranean to the Eastern Mediterranean is really something phenomenal the Romans use concrete to build on land throughout their empire but then they realize that by adding the posala ash to their concrete mix they can use it underwater too they’re bringing this volcanic ash

In they’re mixing it with the stone rubble and the lime to create concrete but it only hardens when you pour water on it so if you take it into the sea once it hits the water it hardens it’s known as hydraulic concrete and it’s a huge milestone in the history of

Construction for years how the Romans us this modern building material to create this Harbor remains a mystery but finds on the seabed provide a clue so one of the findings in cesaria is preserved wood wood from 2,000 years ago that was used to create the framework for them to pour the concrete

To create these large structures of the harbor 2,000 years ago the Romans work with concrete just like we do today they build wooden structures known as queson that hold liquid Concrete in place and then drop them into the sea flooded with seawater the mixture solidifies creating solid concrete

Blocks man-made Bedrock on which to build the first artificial Harbor in the world we now know how ceria maritima was constructed but there’s one mystery left contemporary accounts suggest the harbor disappears barely a century after its Construction among the drained ruins there’s a clue to what happened all the elements of the harbor still remain but but they lie shattered on the sea Flor so what might have led to the collapse of the Harbor in the core samples layers of sediment from after the construction of the harbor help build a picture of events when we find these layers and when we see it’s not like the deposits that are above or below it so we can see that it’s in fact uh an isolated

Incident these layers suggest that something cataclysmic churned up the sediment there is a reference that talks about a possible tsunami in the year 115 ad maybe that’s the event maybe not it does coincide nicely with the finds that we have and the ages that we see it seems likely that this great

Artificial Harbor is reduced to a fraction of its former glory just as Rome tightens its grip on the Mediterranean world but caesaria part in the history of the Roman Empire is not over the Romans apply the power of their wondrous concrete everywhere establishing pts and harbors across the Mediterranean wherever they

Need this is the first and last time the Mediterranean was under the control of one power it wasn’t a space where wars were fought it was a place where trade took place and that’s why the Romans have this kind of relationship with the sea it’s our sea Marin Norstrom a thousand years will pass before other nations Portugal and Spain come close to matching what the Romans achieve domination of the known world through an Empire of the Seas

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