In PBS' "Ancient Invisible Cities," Professor Darius Arya Explores the Hidden Secrets of the Three Most Fascinating Cities of the Ancient World

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21 August 2018
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Ancient Invisible Cities
Courtesy of BBC
"Ancient Invisible Cities"
Premieres Wednesday, August 29 from 9 to 10 PM ET on PBS
(Check your local listings)
 
          In the August 29 premiere episode, uncover the hidden secrets of ancient Athens, the city that gave the world democracy. Professor Darius Arya uses the latest 3D scanning to reveal Athens' treasures, from the buildings on the Acropolis to the silver mines and quarries beyond the city. Then on the September 5 second episode, see how 3D scanning can be used to explore Egypt's ancient treasures, including the Great Pyramid of Giza and the first pyramid ever built, a hidden Roman fortress, and a well deep in the rock below the Arabic citadel of Saladin.
 
          On the September 12 third episode, take an extraordinary journey through ancient Istanbul, the crossroads of Europe and Asia. Professor Darius Arya uses the latest 3D imaging technology to see the city and its often invisible treasures as no human eye ever could.
 
          Each episode culminates in an augmented reality adventure, in which Arya steps inside a hologram and interacts with breath-taking visualizations of the past while set in present-day locations. Following each episode, Arya invites the viewer to explore these sites themselves at home with VR technology. Descending beneath the streets and off the beaten path, ANCIENT INVISIBLE CITIES exposes these fascinating places, as they’ve never been seen before.

 

Athens:  Episode 1 Premieres Aug. 29, 2018

          Professor Darius Arya uses the latest 3D imaging technology to reveal the historical secrets of ancient Athens and tell the story of how this remarkable city created the world’s first democracy more than 2,000 years ago. He begins his journey on the Acropolis, where, in the late 6th century BC, the people of Athens overthrew a tyrannical ruler. There, he investigates the Erechtheion, a mysterious, asymmetrical temple that sits in the shadow of the world-famous Parthenon.
   
          Arya journeys 50 miles south of the Acropolis to explore inside the depths of one of the ancient silver mines that dot this landscape. Following in the footsteps of where an army of slaves once dug silver ore by hand, Darius and the SCAN team discover a network of tunnels and galleries, barely high enough to crawl through, that have long remained unexplored – until now.
 
          Concealed inside an underground parking lot in central Athens, Arya discovers massive sections of Athens’ city walls built in the 5th century BC to protect the city from attackers. He travels on to Mount Pentelli, 11 miles from the center of the city, to find the ancient quarries where Athenians cut the stone that went to making the new buildings constructed on the Acropolis during the late 5th century BC.  The buildings made from this marble include the centerpiece of modern Athens today:  the Parthenon, the Propylaea and the Erechtheion.
 
          On the southern tip of Athenian territory, Arya dives in the waters around Sounion to explore the remains of the submerged town and ancient naval base, a once strategically important settlement that is now almost totally submerged. At the site of the Olympic Village, he and the scan team descend into a 2nd century Roman aqueduct where the water is still running clearly, flowing almost 2,000 years after it was first dug out.
 
          Returning to the virtual reality studio, Arya explores the Erechtheion on the Acropolis in a new way, going to inaccessible parts of this remarkable building.
 
Ancient Invisible Cities
Courtesy of BBC

Cairo:  Episode 2 Premieres Sept. 5, 2018
 
          Cairo is the gateway to Egypt’s ancient wonders.  Professor Darius Arya uses the latest 3D scanning technology to reveal how the first pyramid ever built – the stepped pyramid at Saqqara – helped inspire the Great Pyramid of Giza, one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World. As Arya explores the underground labyrinth buried deep beneath the Giza Pyramid, the 3D scans confirm just how accurately the Great Pyramid was designed and constructed using only stone hammers and copper chisels.  Utilizing the latest in laser technology, Arya also investigates the Sphinx to try to determine the age-old question of which pharaoh it represents...
 
          But the history of Cairo isn't only about the Ancient Egyptians. Arya goes in search of a Roman fortress hidden under a Greek Orthodox Church in the old city and a 90-yard well deep below the Arabic citadel. Along the way, he discovers that the Ancient Egyptians built their first capital, Memphis, close to where Cairo now stands on the banks of the River Nile. This evolved into the Roman fortress called Babylon. Finally, the Arabs founded a city called Cairo. Today, with a population of 20 million, it's the largest city in Africa.


Ancient Invisible Cities
Courtesy of BBC

Istanbul:  Episode 3 Premieres Sept. 12, 2018
 
          Istanbul has been at the crossroads of Europe and Asia for millennia. From the Greeks and Romans to the Ottomans and Turks, the city has been fought over, destroyed and rebuilt time after time. With many of its most extraordinary places out of sight or underground, the latest 3D imaging technology helps Arya to see the city as no human eye ever could, peeling back the layers of history to reveal how Istanbul had to reinvent itself over and over through its turbulent past.
 
          Professor Darius Arya brings Istanbul’s tumultuous history alive in his examination of one of history’s most iconic buildings – the Hagia Sophia. Built by the Romans, this Christian Cathedral has survived 1,500 years of earthquakes, riots, sieges and conquest to become a mosque and now a museum.
 
          As Istanbul, once known as Constantinople, was designed by Emperor Constantine to outdo Rome itself, Arya goes in search of the mighty city the emperor built. He discovers that Istanbul is like a layer cake, with buildings of one era erected on top of another. With the help of local archaeologists and experts, Arya delves into some surprising spaces, such as under the once enormous Hippodrome that began as a stadium for chariot racing, but was converted into a gargantuan water tank to service the Emperor’s Great Palace.
 
          Arya unearths a holy well hidden 30 feet under a modern carpet shop, and later finds that part of the once glorious Bucoleun Palace have fallen into disrepair after years of religious warfare. He explores the fortress headquarters of the Sultan Mehmet who captured the city, and with the help of the hi-tech scans, reveals the fortress as a ruthlessly efficient war machine that helped end the Roman Empire, less than 50 years before Columbus sailed to America.
 
          Along the way, Arya observes the teaming exuberance of the conquering Sultan’s Grande Bazaar and uncovers the engineering innovations of the magnificent Süleymaniye Mosque, the epitome the Ottoman Empire’s “golden age.” As his final journey, he goes beyond even the extraordinary 3D scans to experience Istanbul in a whole new way – through virtual reality, flying right through the ancient dome of the Hagia Sophia and seeing Istanbul as even the locals have never seen it.
 Ancient Invisible Cities
Courtesy of BBC
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