Archaeology

Letters from Baghdad

Letters from Baghdad

 

Gertrude Bell was an archaeologist and diplomat, sometimes called the female “Lawrence of Arabia,” who helped shape politics in the Middle East after World War I. Her story is told entirely in her own words and those of her contemporaries, excerpted from letters, diaries and official documents.

 

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NOVA
The Last B-24

 

Dive to the bottom of the Adriatic Sea in search of the Tulsamerican, a B-24 bomber that crashed off the coast of Croatia during World War II. In 2010, divers located the plane. Now the Department of Defense, aided by the Croatian Navy and some of the world’s leading underwater archaeologists, sets to work investigating the wreckage.

 

 

NOVA
Ghosts of Murdered Kings

 

In the hills of Ireland’s County Tipperary, a laborer harvesting peat from a dried-up bog spots the remnants of a corpse — a headless torso almost perfectly preserved and stained dark brown by the bog. Archaeologists recognize it as one of Europe’s rare bog bodies: prehistoric corpses flung into the marshes. The corpse eventually will be dated to the Bronze Age, more than 4,000 years ago. Forensic evidence reveals a shockingly violent death. NOVA follows archaeologists and forensic experts in their hunt for clues to the identity and the circumstances of this and other violent deaths of bog body victims. A new theory emerges that they are ritually murdered kings, slain to assure the fertility of land and people. NOVA’s ancient detective story opens a tantalizing window on the beliefs of Europe’s long-vanished prehistoric peoples.

 

 

NOVA
Dawn of Humanity

 

NOVA and National Geographic present exclusive access to a unique discovery of ancient remains. Located in an almost inaccessible chamber deep in a South African cave, the site required recruiting a special team of experts slender enough to wriggle down a vertical, pitch-dark, eight inch-wide passage. Most fossil discoveries of human relatives consist of just a handful of bones. But down in this hidden chamber, the team uncovered an unprecedented trove – so far, over 1,500 bones – with the potential to rewrite the story of our origins. They may help fill in a crucial gap in the fossil record and tell us how Homo, the first member of the human family, emerged from ape-like ancestors like the famous Lucy. But how did hundreds of bones end up in the remote chamber? The experts are considering every mind-boggling possibility. Join NOVA on the treacherous descent into this cave of spectacular and enigmatic finds, and discover their startling implications for the saga of what made us human.

 

 

NOVA
Secrets of the Sky Tombs

 

A team of scientists and explorers probe high altitude caves in the Tibetan Himalayas. Along the way they discover evidence of ritual burials, thousands of years old: skeletons, mummies, and evidence of practices designed to ward off ancient vampires and even zombies.

 

 

NOVA
Petra: Lost City of Stone

 

More than 2,000 years ago, the thriving city of Petra rose up in the bone-dry desert of what is now Jordan. An oasis of culture and abundance, the city was built by wealthy merchants who carved spectacular temple-tombs into its cliffs, raised a monumental Great Temple and devised an ingenious system that channeled water to vineyards, bathhouses, fountains and pools. But following a catastrophic earthquake and a slump in its desert trade routes, Petra’s unique culture faded and was lost to most of the world for nearly 1,000 years. Now, in a daring experiment, an archaeologist and several sculptors team up to carve an iconic temple-tomb to find out how the ancient people of Petra built their city of stone.

 

 

NOVA
Hagia Sophia: Istanbul’s Ancient Mystery

 

Istanbul’s magnificent Hagia Sophia has survived on one of the world’s most active seismic faults, which has inflicted a dozen devastating earthquakes since Hagia Sophia was built in 537 AD. As Istanbul braces for the next big quake, a team of architects and engineers is investigating Hagia Sophia’s seismic survival secrets. NOVA follows the team’s discoveries as they examine the building’s unique structure and other ingenious design strategies that have insured the dome’s survival. The engineers build a massive eight-ton model of the building’s core structure, place it on a motorized shake table and hit it with a series of simulated quakes.

 

Secrets of Spanish Florida:
A Secrets of the Dead Special

 

The first permanent European settlement in the United States was founded in 1565–two generations before the settlements in Jamestown and Plymouth–not by English Protestants, but by the Spanish and a melting pot of people they brought with them from Africa, Italy, Germany, Ireland and even converted Jews, who integrated almost immediately with the indigenous tribes. Secrets of Spanish Florida – A Secrets of the Dead Special uncovers one story of America’s past that never made it into textbooks. Follow some of America’s leading archaeologists, maritime scientists, and historians as they share the story of Florida’s earliest settlers. It’s a story that has taken more than 450 years to reveal.

 

NOVA
Mystery of Easter Island

 

A remote, bleak speck of rock in the Pacific, Easter Island, or Rapa Nui, has mystified the world ever since the first Europeans arrived in 1722. How and why did the ancient islanders build and move nearly 900 giant statues, or moai, weighing as much as 86 tons each? And how did they transform a presumed paradise into a treeless wasteland, bringing ruin upon their island and themselves? NOVA explores controversial recent claims that challenge decades of previous thinking about the islanders, who have been accused of everything from ecocide to cannibalism. Among the radical new theories is that the islanders used ropes to “walk” the statues upright, like moving a fridge. With the help of an accurate 15-ton replica statue, a NOVA team sets out to test this high-risk, seemingly unlikely theory – serving up plenty of action and surprises in this fresh investigation of one of the ancient world’s most intriguing enigmas.

 

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