Engineering an Empire – Egypt (01×01)

The History Channel builds upon its mini series Rome: Engineering an Empire by expanding it into a weekly series focusing on some of the worlds most fascinating and complex empires including The Aztecs, Greeks, Alexander the Great, China, and the two hour pilot episode Egypt.

The premiere episode kicks off introducing us to the ancient Egyptian empire and how the engineering feats accomplished nearly 5000 years ago were dramatically ahead of their time and shaped future empires such as Rome and Greece with the invention of stone structures, pillars, obelisks, and the use of quarrying technology to construct these massive structures when the rest of the world was still piling small rocks together or shaping buildings out of mud.

The series is hosted by actor Peter Weller (“24”, Robocop) who is also an art historian as he takes us through some of the surviving structures in Egypt and helps us to understand the massive undertaking it was to fully accomplish what the Egyptians did without the use of computers and machines of any kind.

One of the stand out features of the telecast is the use of remarkably improved CGI over some of the History Channel’s past endeavors which left much to be desired in the computer effects departments. The use of digital models in Engineering and Empire gives the viewer a great perspective how spectacular the engineering feats accomplished really were.

The program, while being focused on the construction of massive ceremonial burial tombs, also touches upon the Egyptian ingenuity in building forts along the banks of the Nile during conquests of neighboring Nubia and the construction of dams to protect the Egyptian people from the seasonal flood waters of the Nile River.

One of the most interesting points explored in the program is the failure of several structures including a dam and the Bent Pyramid which called for the angle of inclination to be dramatically altered after only half the pyramid was constructed due to the failure of the underlying bedrock to support the massive weight of the structure.

Aside from some history lessons on several of the pharaohs explored in the episode, the focus is clearly aimed at the “engineering of the empire” rather than focusing on some of the well known figureheads such as King Tut or Cleopatra.

The series strives to show a clear view of the architectural genius that was present during the time of the pharaohs in Egypt and it accomplishes this task marvelously. One can only hope the rest of the planned weekly episodes is as focuses and informative. For any architecture or history fans, Engineering and Empire is Tivo worthy programming.

Written by Erich Becker
Thirty-something with a love of everything we cover here, and a few things we don't. Erich has run Entertainmentopia since the site's inception in 1999, countless redesigns, a few crashes, and a lot of media later, here you have it!