Retracing Via Egnatia

The road that helped shaped history

By Roger Williams | December 4, 2015

Ancient Ways, a three-part radio programme by Bettany Hughes, begins on BBC Radio 4 today. The historian traces the Via Egnatia from Rome to Istanbul to show how this vital artery helped shape Europe and the Middle East, spanning the Ancient, Byzantine, Ottoman and modern worlds. This, says the programme notes, is where the forces of the Roman republic lost to the heirs of Julius Caesar, and the route where St Paul brought Christianity to Europe. Later, it was the path the Crusaders took to the holy land, a vital Byzantine communication link and the base from which the Ottoman Turks controlled their vast European holdings.The author of Helen of Troy and The Hemlock Cup, about Socrates and Athens, Hughes has covered a broad range of topics on radio and television. Her two-part series Caucasian Roots, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in September, was an entertaining and enlightening account of a journey through the Caucasus that, among other things, searched for the reason why Caucasian is a word chosen in the West to describe white people, and why it was once thought to be the height of beauty, while in Russia the opposite was the case.

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