Episode 4 of 4
Historian Michael Scott ends his new series offering a global perspective on familiar historic dates with a seasonal focus - the Year 0 BC in Judea and the birth of Jesus in the south east corner of the Roman Empire between Egypt and Syria when Romans controlled the entire Mediterranean basin.
Jesus was born into a region which was one of the great fault lines of the ancient world. Emperor Caesar Augustus annexed Egypt and opened up a trade route to the east via the Red Sea. Rome was wealthy, and had a great demand from Asia. Roman traders learned from the Arabs to sail with the monsoon winds from the Red Sea to the west coast of India. This encouraged demand for goods from Asia.
Augustus was the first emperor of Rome. He transformed Rome from a republic, led by competing nobles, to an empire, ruled by one man. When he died in 14 AD he was declared a god by the Roman Senate.
So as Christianity was beginning, so too the concept of the divine Roman emperor forming in Roman pagan religion. This would lead to a big problem later down the line as Christians could not accept the one thing Romans insisted upon: ultimate worship of the emperor.
In the Maya region, the first true city ,El Mirador (located in Guatemala), was entering its greatest century of growth. The largest structures, including massive pyramids with multiple temples on top, ever built by the Maya were constructed during the first century. By the year 0 we are also looking at the rise of the great Mayan cities like Tikal and Calakmul. Writing flourished; kingdoms appropriated power and were later to expand exponentially.
Glass blowing was invented around this period and it revolutionised the production of glass vessels. It is believed to have originated in Roman Syria and rapidly spread to Italy and the western provinces. The use of moulds helped speed up production and meet the demand for utilitarian household storage or transport vessels, as well as decorative pieces.
And a king was also said to have been born in the far east. Yuri was the son of Jumong, the founder of Goguryeo, the northernmost of the Three Kingdoms of Korea. He became King upon his father King Jumong's death and is described as a powerful and militarily successful king. He died in 18 AD having ruled for 37 years.
Producer: Mohini Patel.