Main content

Tales from the Caspian Sea

Professor Bettany Hughes travels to Azerbaijan to investigate the rich cultural history of the Caspian and its history as the ancient “land of fire”.

Alexander the Great, it was still asserted into the early 19th century, had built the gates that separated East and West at the eastern edge of the Caucasus: what is now Azerbaijan lay beyond.

In ‘Tales from the Caspian Sea’, Bettany Hughes investigates the rich cultural history of the Caspian, a region which nourished the ancient world’s oldest theocracy, in the form of a Zoroastrian state, and pioneered an early Muslim-majority democracy in 1918. Her investigation of Azerbaijan - “the land of fire” - begins in the foothills of the Caucasus Mountains with visits to the archaeological sites that are actively reanimating the history of the region.

Hughes discovers the landscape of Azerbaijan, which has been a centre of ancient trade on the Silk Road, inspired the poetry of the acclaimed poet Nizami Ganjavi and is a land that has been at the forefront of the development of civilisations and geopolitics to this day.

Available now

44 minutes


Featured in...

Six Secret Smuggled Books

Six classic works of literature we wouldn't have read if they hadn't been smuggled...


Seven images inspired by the grid

World Music collector, Sir David Attenborough

The field recordings Attenborough of music performances around the world.

Attenborough's field recordings

The unlikely music performances captured while searching for exotic animals to film.