Episode 1 The Brainy Barbarians – Terry Jones immerses himself in the world of the “barbarians” of the East – the Greeks and the Persians and discovers that it was they, and not the Romans, who were the real brains of the ancient world. The story begins and ends with a strange lump of rusty metal discovered on the sea bed in the Mediterranean in 1900. It turned out to be a 2,000 year old piece of highly complex engineering, the like of which would not be seen for another 1,500 years. What had happened to halt the progress of ancient know how? The Romans had happened. From the great Parthian Empires of the East to their closer neighbours, the Greeks, the Roman world was surrounded by mathematical and scientific brilliance. But Terry discovers that all the Romans were interested in was conquest and money. Tragically, in the single minded quest to expand their Empire, the Romans buried scientific treasures and wonderfully enlightened societies that are only just coming to light.
Episode 2 The Primitive Celts – Julius Caesar wrote that he invaded Celtic Gaul in 58 BC to protect the Northern borders of the Empire from these volatile people. But Caesar’s account was a smokescreen for a more sinister truth. The Celts, according to Rome, were a warring and illiterate people. Yet Terry Jones discovers that the Celts had mathematical know how way beyond Rome’s. They had a society that was compassionate and protected the young and the weak. It was a society built on a sophisticated trading network that spread way beyond the borders of the Celtic world. So why was Caesar so hell bent on their destruction? The Celtic world was built on vast deposits of gold and these “primitive people” were gold miners par excellence. At the time of the conquest, the ambitious Caesar was broke. By his own account, he slaughtered over a million Celts and soon Rome was minting gold coins again.
Episode 3 The Savage Goths – According to Rome, the barbarians from Germany were among the most brutal of all. The Roman picture of the beasts from the dark forests of Germania was created in 9 A.D., when Herman the German masterminded the wholesale massacre of three Roman legions. Terry Jones discovers that Herman’s real name was Armenius and that he was a high ranking German officer in the Roman army, commanding legions of German soldiers. Trajan’s Column shows the barbarian peoples of Dacia. Ever heard of Dacia? It’s unlikely, because the Romans so totally destroyed Dacia that its society is only just being rediscovered. In a tunnel deep in a Transylvanian mountain, Terry discovers the reason Dacia was eradicated by Rome massive deposits of gold. The glorious monuments to Rome’s golden age were built with barbarian wealth and stained with Dacian blood.
Episode 4 The End of the World – Around 400 A.D., two “barbarian” babies were born. One would grow up to become the fiercest barbarian of them all Attila the Hun – the scourge of God. The other, Alaric, would become the leader of the greatest wreckers in history the Vandals. The key to the success of the Romans’ anti-barbarian propaganda is intimately wrapped up in the stories of the Huns and Vandals and the fall of the Western Empire. In an investigation that takes him from the great Hungarian plains to the ruins of North Africa, Terry discovers that the truth was somewhat different. From beyond the grave, the Roman Empire managed to turn humiliating defeat into a triumph and blacken the name of one of the most enlightened civilizations of the age.