Cleopatra needed the help of Julius Caesar to overthrow Ptolemy and seize the throne. Caesar in turn declared himself a living God.
But it was Caesar’s megalomania that won out in the end. Every one of his successors was worshipped as a divine emperor.
A period of extreme weather caused the Nazca people of South America to make a fatal error of judgement.
The Nazca experienced an apocalyptic 30 years of rain, without the roots of the huarango trees the soil was washed away. Then the rains were followed by 30 years of drought. The earth was left hard and lifeless.
Bilal bin Rabah’s defiance in the face of violence, helped to spread the word of Muhammed about the new religion – Islam.
Within 120 years of Mohammad’s death his followers had converted and taking control of societies from Central Asia to Spain, an area even larger than the Roman Empire.
Saul had a revelation on the road to Damascus and Vibia Perpetua was executed for Roman amusement and her refusal to refute Christianity.
The merger between Christianity and worldly power would long survive the Roman Empire. It’s a basic foundation of the western world.
Emperor Ying Zheng combined the warring state of China, imposing a system of legalism, and had no time for the teachings of Confucius.
Ying Zheng had a relatively simple idea of the after-life – “if I go, I’m going to take it all with me.”
Ashoka Maurya is considered by many to be one of India’s finest emperors. He converted to Buddhism, penitent after the slaughter of many war victories.
But, Ashoka was the exception. 1,000 miles north east of the mauryan Empire another leader relied on the traditional route to power. Violence.
Andrew Marr tells the story of the struggle for spiritual liberation. The Word is mightier than the Sword.
Religion has long been the source of conflict and to this day the strength of belief is the most difficult to overcome.
Catalhoyuk an ancient settlement in Anatolia would seem to have been idyllic, without temples or warriors.
So here we are, right at the beginning of human society, in a place and surrounded by the ghosts of people that we already recognise.
The invention of a simple bone needle would prove more revolutionary than anything else in shaping human development. It heralded the arrival of Clothing.
It’s not an obvious thing to do. You gather the grains – the food that you’re hungry for and your family is hungry for – but instead of eating it, you keep some of it back!
Da Yu united the warring clans to construct an epic project to tame the flooding of the mighty Yellow River.
Yu is known to this day as Da Yu – the Great Yu – and it’s interesting that the first Chinese hero was a civil engineer and a civil servant.