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Engineering series hits television screens


MODERN CIVIL engineers will take on challenges from antiquity in a new BBC2 series, Secrets of the Ancients.

The first episode, screened on Tuesday, attempts to discover the navigation secrets of the Vikings, but the next four programmes deal with civil engineering problems.

Next Tuesday, former Ove Arup engineer Chris Wise attempts to recreate Julius Caesar's 55BC crossing of the Rhine, employing a 400m wide wooden bridge built in just ten days. Wise undertakes his challenge on the North Tyne and has to first build a pile-driver using Roman technology.

A week later, Ove Arup engineer and expert rock climber Jo da Silva joins a team working on the 'The Claw'. This was a terrifying weapon invented by the Greek engineer Archimedes to up end Roman warships during the attempted invasion of Syracuse in 213BC.

Civil engineer Bob Loew originally had the help of former ICE vice president Peter Guthrie in his attempt to work out how the ancient Mexican Olmec tribe managed to move their 40 tonne rock sculptures.

But Guthrie became ill and Loew had to struggle on alone. You can see if he succeeded on 23 November.

On 30 November, a team of engineers from different disciplines tests various solutions to the irrigation problems posed by the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.

Secrets of the Ancients is on BBC2, Tuesdays at 9pm. (See Mark Whitby, page 13.)

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