Terry Jones’ Barbarians
Terry Jones’ Barbarians is a 4-part TV documentary series first broadcast on BBC 2 in 2006. It was written and presented by Terry Jones, and it challenges the received Roman and Roman Catholic notion of the barbarian.
BBC has placed the entire series on its Youtube channel.
The Celts, according to Rome, were a warring and illiterate people. Yet Terry Jones discovers that these people had mathematical know-how beyond Rome’s. It was a society built on an advanced and complex trading network that spread way beyond the borders of the Celtic world. So why was Caesar so hell-bent on the destruction of these civilised people? Maybe because the Celtic world was built on vast deposit of gold.
Roman writers have left us with an image of the Barbarians of the North (Germans, Dacians and Goths) as hairy primitives. It was an image reinforced by the wholesale massacre of a Roman army in Germany in 9 AD, and sealed by the so-called Sack of Rome in 410 AD. Terry Jones reveals that far from being brutal savages, the Barbarians of the North were in fact much admired by Rome for their fighting prowess.
Terry Jones immerses himself in the world of the ‘barbarians’ of the East – the Greeks and the Persians – and discovers that it was they, and not the Romans, who were the real brains of the ancient world. The story begins and ends with a strange lump of rusty metal discovered on the sea bed in the Mediterranean in 1900. What had happened to halt the progress of ancient know-how?
Around 400AD, two ‘barbarians’ were born; Attila the Hun and Alaric the leader of the Vandals. The key to the success of the Romans’ anti-barbarian propaganda is intimately wrapped up in the stories of the Huns and Vandals and the fall of the Western Empire. Terry Jones reveals how the Catholic Church rewrote history to smear the ancestors of modern Europe as barbarians.