Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rome wasn't built in a day

I don't watch a lot of TV, but I did catch the opening episode of Rome wasn't built in a day, a BBC documentary following a group of London builders as they attempt to build a Roman-style villa using only materials, tools and techniques, guided by a mad archaeologist and copies of Vitruvius' architecture manual. You can read a couple of reviews here and here. I thought it was pretty good, with some interesting insights into Roman practices. The builders (in the first episode at least) struggle a lot without their modern tools, and I don't blame them really. The Romans didn't have the same level of technology, but they made up for it by having a huge, cheap workforce. The six builders are trying to achieve by themselves something which (I imagine) would have involved dozens of skilled and unskilled slaves. One thing the reviews don't mention is how funny the show is. There are some very funny interactions between the builders and the archaeologist, and keep an eye on the plumber's T-shirts in particular.

The series is on the ABC on Tuesday evenings, and you can catch the first episode on iview for the next week or so.

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