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Ancient Civilizations_ Etruscan and Byzantine

Ancient Mysteries
The Etruscan civilization (/ᵻˈtrʌskən/) is the modern name given to a powerful and wealthy civilization of ancient Italy in the area corresponding roughly to Tuscany, western Umbria, and northern Lazio. As distinguished by its unique language, this civilization endured from before the time of the earliest Etruscan inscriptions (c. 700 BC) until its assimilation into the Roman Republic, beginning in the late 4th century BC with the Roman–Etruscan Wars. Culture that is identifiably Etruscan developed in Italy after about 800 BC, approximately over the range of the preceding Iron Age Villanovan culture. The latter gave way in the 7th century BC to a culture that was influenced by ancient Greece, Magna Graecia, and Phoenicia. At its maximum extent, during the foundational period of Rome and the Roman Kingdom, Etruscan civilization flourished in three confederacies of cities: of Etruria, of the Po Valley with the eastern Alps, and of Latium and Campania. The decline was gradual, but by 500 BC the political destiny of Italy had passed out of Etruscan hands. The last Etruscan cities were formally absorbed by Rome around 100 BC. Although the Etruscans developed a system of writing, the Etruscan language remains only partly understood, and only a handful of texts of any length survive, making modern understanding of their society and culture heavily dependent on much later and generally disapproving Roman sources. Politics were based on the small city, and probably the family unit. In their heyday, the Etruscan elite grew very rich through trade with the Celtic world to the north and the Greeks to the south, and filled their large family tombs with imported luxuries. Archaic Greece had a huge influence on their art and architecture, and Greek mythology was evidently very familiar to them.

The Byzantine Empire, also referred to as the Eastern Roman Empire, was the continuation of the Roman Empire in the East during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, when its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul, which had been founded as Byzantium). It survived the fragmentation and fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century AD and continued to exist for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. During most of its existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms created after the end of the realm; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Greek: Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia tôn Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum), or Romania (Ῥωμανία), and to themselves as "Romans". Several signal events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the period of transition during which the Roman Empire's Greek East and Latin West divided. Constantine I (r. 324–337) reorganised the empire, made Constantinople the new capital, and legalised Christianity. Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and other religious practices were proscribed. Finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. Thus, although the Roman state continued and Roman state traditions were maintained, modern historians distinguish Byzantium from ancient Rome insofar as it was centred on Constantinople, oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity. The borders of the Empire evolved significantly over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including North Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. During the reign of Maurice (r. 582–602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and the north stabilised. However, his assassination caused the Byzantine–Sasanian War of 602–628, which exhausted the Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the seventh century. In a matter of years the Empire lost its richest provinces, Egypt and Syria, to the Arabs.

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