Richard Miles the face of new BBC2 history series

7 January 2011

A Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences academic is helping to bring history to life as the host of a new six-part British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) history series.

Archaeologist and historian, Dr Richard Miles, presents the program Ancient Worlds, which premiered on BBC2 television last November.

The series will be available for Australian audiences when it is aired on ABC television in 2011.

In the series, Miles explores the much-maligned term "civilisation", and its origins and implications.

Miles embarks on a journey to the first cities in the world, from Mesopotamia in Southern Iraq to key sites of the Roman Empire, in pursuit of what he calls "mankind's greatest achievement - civilisation".

The BBC2 series presents the history of human cohabitation in cities as unnatural and forged through conflict and sacrifice.

Miles tests his unique civilisation proposition across a variety of exotic landscapes throughout the program, seeking to remove the elitist allusions of the term to instead celebrate the origins of human society.

The opportunity to discover and examine several inaccessible locations, including remote areas of Iraq and Pakistan, while shooting the series were particular highlights of the hosting experience for Miles, who also visited ancient sites across the Mediterranean, the Middle East and Asia for the program.

Miles found the monumental task of condensing nearly 6000 years of human history into an intelligible six hour program to be a "tough but rewarding challenge" in his writing and presenting role.

"As an academic you are often presenting your research to fellow experts, and this means you can often take prior knowledge of key concepts or events for granted," he said.

"With a television programme you can make no such assumptions. I found television to be a brutal but effective tutor in ensuring that you present complex ideas in as clear and interesting a way as possible."

Ancient Worlds has been well received and widely praised in the United Kingdom for its ambitious scope.

Miles hopes that Australian audiences too will find the series stimulating and a "spur to find out more about the Ancient Mediterranean and near East".

Dr Richard Miles joined the Department of Classics and Ancient History as a Senior Lecturer in 2009.

Prior to his arrival at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences he was a Newton Trust Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics at Cambridge University.

As an illustrious researcher in the area of Punic and late Roman history, Miles has directed archaeological digs in Carthage and Rome, and has previously appeared in the 2004 UK television documentary, Carthage: The Roman Holocaust as writer and presenter.

Miles is also on the Advisory Editorial Board of "Carthage Studies", a peer-reviewed periodical published by the section of Classical Archaeology at Ghent University.

His book Carthage Must Be Destroyed: The Rise and Fall of an Ancient Mediterranean Civilisation (Allen Lane Penguin) was released last year.

For more information about the series, visit the BBC2 site.

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