Segments in this Video

Reconstruction Project (06:21)


Julius Caesar's campaign to conquer Europe was halted at the Rhine; in ten days, he built a timber bridge across it. Engineer Chris Wise designed a half scale replica based on Roman writings. He is joined by manager Michael O'Rorke and ancient carpentry expert Damian Goodburn.

Project Research (06:33)

Wise tours Roman Empire architecture with Horst Fehr in Trier; they inspect timber piles found in the Rhine, discovering pointed metal shoes on some. The wood is dated, and found 100 years too young to be from Caesar's bridge. Goodman fells a Sessile Oak, believing species and axe historically accurate materials.

Day One: Project Expansion (05:06)

A Roman outpost on the River Tyne is chosen for the bridge reconstruction site; the team must build construction machinery and the span. O'Rorke enlists the local military for labor; Goodburn begins squaring an oak for the top beam of the first trestle. David Sim fashions pile shoes.

Day Two: Time Deficit (05:57)

Wise focuses on building the pile driver; construction begins on its A-frames, and its transport raft is completed. Replica designs are based on medieval illustrations. Goodburn finishes shaping the oak beam.

Day Three: Construction Challenges (03:53)

The project team is determined to meet the goal of finishing the pile driver. The A-frame's crocodile joint breaks and becomes misaligned while being lifted; repairs are made and they are fitted. Wise designs a Roman crane to position beams.

Day Four: Mechanized Help (03:04)

An army crane is used to expedite completion of the pile driver, though the Roman type is finished. Bageeta Hoffman discusses Caesar's motivations for building a bridge across the Rhine.

Day Five: Designs and Driving (06:46)

The team prepares pile timber; the driver is finished and positioned. The rig's trigger release mechanism accurately pounds the first piles through the gravel riverbed. Goodburn discusses and tests Roman methods for moving heavy beams.

Day Six: Connections (06:01)

Goodburn and Wise discuss pile linkage, determining a large metal staple type to have been used by Caesar. The Roman crane moves bracing beams into position, but the one ton oak beam poses challenges; adjustments are made and it is fitted onto the first trestle.

Day Seven: Accomplishment (04:32)

The bridge decking is started, but the team runs out of time to complete the project. Leaders discuss their successes, explaining that Caesar had more practice and a larger workforce to construct his span in ten days.

Credits: Caesar's Bridge (00:41)

Credits: Caesar's Bridge

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Secrets Of The Ancients: Caesar's Bridge

Part of the Series : Secrets Of The Ancients
DVD (Chaptered) Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



In 55 BC Julius Caesar marched through Europe, crushing the rebellious tribes in the North. In mid-summer he arrived at the mighty Rhine. He was determined to get his legions across to teach the tribes on the other side a lesson, but considered it beneath the dignity of the Roman army to cross the river by boat. Consequently, he ordered his men to build a wooden bridge over a river which was at least 400 meters wide, up to 8 meters deep and flowing at 2 meters a second. In his account of “The Gallic Wars” he claims that from the felling of the first tree to the completed bridge, this massive structure was built in only ten days. Caesar's Bridge attempts to discover if Caesar was boasting.

Length: 50 minutes

Item#: FPT185535

ISBN: 978-1-64867-003-9

Copyright date: ©1999

Closed Captioned

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