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Engineering an Empire: The Complete Series (History Channel)

4.4 out of 5 stars 148 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

The Parthenon. Chichén Itzá. The Pyramids. Their scale, complexity, and sheer beauty stand as permanent reminders of the indomitable strength and ingenuity of the human spirit.

ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE: THE COLLECTOR S EDITION circles the globe to re-examine history s most magnificent civilizations by surveying the architectural and engineering triumphs they left behind. Beginning more than five-thousand years ago with the mind-boggling construction feats of the ancient Egyptians, the 14 documentaries--including two feature-length specials--in this collection revive the spectacular glory of the past, from the great temples of Greece to the majestic and mysterious Tenochtitlan. Cutting-edge CGI graphics and stunning location footage reanimate the ancient streets of such cities as Carthage and Rome, while expert interview trace the rise of each empire and the technological achievements that paved the way for their gravity-defying masterpieces.

Hosted by Peter Weller, ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE: THE COLLECTOR S EDITION unites each riveting moment of this critically-acclaimed and Emmy Award-winning series to reveal the innovation and infrastructure behind the world s most dazzling empires.

DVD Features: Season 1 Behind-the-Scenes Featurette; Egypt Featurettes Inside Look , From The Director s Chair , and Everything You Wanted To Know About Egypt ; Rome Behind-the-Scenes Featurette

Special Features

None.

Product Details

  • Actors: Engineer An Empire
  • Directors: Mark Cannon
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Box set, Collector's Edition, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 6
  • Rated:
    NR
    Not Rated
  • Studio: A&E HOME VIDEO
  • DVD Release Date: August 28, 2007
  • Run Time: 748 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (148 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000S0GYNO
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,244 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Engineering an Empire: The Complete Series (History Channel)" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I purchased this set because I am a fan of the series on the History Channel and wanted to own it on DVD. Sadly, I just realized that for only a few bucks more I could have gotten the Collector's Edition. THIS SET DOES NOT CONTAIN THE ENTIRE SERIES. It is missing the two original specials that spawned the series in the first place: Rome and Egypt. The Collector's Edition has 2 extra discs and featurs both of these award winning episodes--a total of 156 extra minutes of content (they each aired at 2 hours long with commercials compared to the 1 hour long season episodes). The Rome and Egypt episodes were also arguably the best of the series, in that they contained the most depth and the highest quality productions.

I highly recommend this series, but don't miss out by purchasing this set by accident. GO GET THE COLLECTOR'S EDITION for the most value and to experience ALL the content of the series.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
The History Channel's Engineering an Empire series, containing six DVDs, focuses on the engineering and architectural triumphs of great (and not so great) civilizations. Each of the programs attempts to feature a society's engineering accomplishments as a prism through which to view its history and culture. Because of the arbitrary selection of societies and engineering accomplishments and the limited length of each program, the series fails to achieve this grand goal, but it is still both entertaining and to a limited extent educational.

All too often, the engineering accomplishments of the civilizations covered are limited to aqueducts, the use of pilings to support buildings in marshes and over bodies of water, the discovery of the corbelled arch, and military inventions like the Greek triremes and the ubiquitous catapult in its various forms.

Although actors are used extensively, they look like you expect real people of the time would have looked, a major advantage that the History Channel has over PBS, where the actors are always English and good-looking. A History Channel Persian or Mayan looks like a Persian or Mayan.

One area in which the History Channel excels is that of Computer-Aided Design, which they use to "reconstruct" buildings that either lie in ruins or have disappeared. The results are remarkable.

On the negative side, while the experts who appear are clearly highly knowledgeable leaders in their field, that field is limited to history; relatively few professional engineers or architects appear.

The selection of Peter Weller (of RoboCop fame) as a host was initially off-putting to me (despite constant references to his links to Syracuse University, he apparently only received an M.A.
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This is a great set and includes the following titles on 4 discs: (Unfortunately it doesn't include the episode on Egypt. You will have to buy that one separately if you want all of them.)

ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE: THE SERIES, VOLUME I:

GREECE: The cradle of Western civilization sustained remarkable technological advancement for over 1,000 years, including such masterpieces as the Tunnel of Samos and the Parthenon.

GREECE: AGE OF ALEXANDER: After a century of tremendous accomplishment, Greece's territorial ambitions were stymied by constant warfare - until Alexander ventured abroad and initiated the Hellenistic era.

THE AZTECS: The Aztecs became one of the greatest civilizations in history through brilliant military campaigns and technological mastery of their harsh environment.

ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE: THE SERIES, VOLUME II:

CARTHAGE: Find out how Carthaginian engineers harnessed their extensive resources and manpower to develop some of the ancient world's most groundbreaking technology.

CHINA: Century after century, China's regal emperors mobilized immense peasant armies to accomplish unfathomable feats - including the most ambitious construction project ever accomplished.

RUSSIA: From the Moscow Kremlin to St. Petersburg to the Trans-Siberian railroad, examine the architecture and infrastructure that led to the rise and fall of the Russian Empire.

ENGINEERING AN EMPIRE: THE SERIES, VOLUME III:

GREAT BRITAIN: Through the centuries, the British Empire used extraordinary engineering technology to become an industrial and military titan, giving rise to such inventions as the first locomotive.
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Format: DVD
The best thing about this series is that some of the episodes go beyond the typical fare for historical documentary subject matter. Rome, Egypt, and Europe have been done to death, but this series features episodes on Carthage, Persia, and the Byzantine (Eastern Roman) empires--which all recieve MUCH less attention than the deserve. The series also covers Native American empires--the Aztecs and Maya--, so there's a fair amount of diversity. There's also some diversity in time period, with episodes on the rennesiance-era Italian city-states, pre-industrial Russia, colonial Britain, and Napoleonic France in addition to the ancient civilizations. There is also an episode on China, and 2 on Greece during both the Helenistic and classical periods.

I appreciate the breadth of subject matter in terms of geography and time period. This is the first documentary I think I've ever seen to focus exclusively on Persia or Carthage and not on the roles they played in Western contexts (the Greco-Persian and Punic Wars respectively). Never-the-less, these events come up and get significant attention and discussion. It would have been nice to focus on "fresh" (less-well known) facts. But this is only a small complaint. Another small complaint is that the series did not take this idea further. I could have done without France, Britain, and 2 whole episodes on Greece, and instead seen something on India or the forgotten empires of Africa (Nubia, Ethiopia, Tim Buktu, etc).
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