What the Ancients Knew: The East
Exploring early Japan, China and India, this series journeys into the technological past that shaped our world. Travel back in time to understand the motivations behind early solutions and inventions. Much of the science and technology we consider to be “modern” was created by civilizations long ago. DVD Release Date: 14 May 2012
Part 1: Japan
Japan an island group roughly 120 million people strong, is one of the largest economic powers in the world today. In the eyes of history, Japan’s economic success happened overnight and yet it didn’t come out of the blue. Cultivating an ancient legacy, modern Japan continues to hold on to its past. And while today many of the ancient crafts are struggling to survive, they provide the foundation for modern Japan’s technological success. What the Ancient Japanese knew helps explain the industrial marvel of one of the largest economic powers in the world.
Part 2: China
21st century China is modernising at Break neck speed. From AD 600 to 1500, China was the most technologically advanced society on Earth. Early discoveries put China in the vanguard of science and technology in the ancient world and light years ahead of Western cultures for a very long time. But Chinese researchers shared something with those in the West: ancient Chinese alchemists and inventors were trying to solve problems. Advances in Chinese science and technology were spurred by dynastic emperors seeking practical solutions to the challenges of ruling and defending their vast empires. Building on thousands of years of observation and experimentation, ancient Chinese researchers sought to harness the power of the classic elements–earth, wind, water, and fire.
Part 3: India
India is one of the oldest and richest civilizations in the world. It is home to the world’s first planned cities, where every house had its own bathroom and toilet five thousand years ago. The Ancient Indians have not only given us yoga, meditation and complementary medicines, but they have furthered our knowledge of science, maths – and invented Chaturanga, which became the game of chess. According to Albert Einstein, they “taught us how to count”, as they invented the numbers 1-9 and ‘zero’, without which there would be no computers or digital age. Unfairly we call this system of counting Arabic numbers – a misplaced credit. Two thousand years ago the Indians pioneered plastic surgery, reconstructing the noses and ears on the faces of people who had been disfigured through punishment or warfare. They performed eye operations such as cataract removal and invented inoculation to protect their population from Smallpox, saving thousands of lives