Archaeologists and historians are shedding extraordinary new light on one of the most important events in human history – the horrific battle which gave birth to the Roman Empire.

A detailed study of a unique victory monument, overlooking the sea in northwest Greece, is revealing some of the long-lost secrets of that crucial military engagement – a great sea battle, fought between Julius Caesar's adoptive son and heir, Octavian (who became Rome's first emperor) and Egypt's Queen Cleopatra (and her Roman lover, Mark Antony).

The remains of the victory monument still survive adjacent to Nicopolis – the largest ancient ruined city in Greece.

Octavian (who received the title Augustus when he became Rome's first emperor) won that crucial naval clash of arms in 31BC – and, now, more than 2,000 years later, detailed analysis of his great victory monument, overlooking the battle site near the ancient Greek religious sanctuary of Actium, is helping scholars to more fully understand how his world-changing victory was achieved.