31 votes
Secrets of the Dead

Secrets of the Dead

PBS 2000

Sometimes the truth gets carried to the grave. The techniques of modern forensic science are used to investigate a historical mystery to find proof of what really happened.

Warning: the following content contains spoilers!

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The 10 Best Episodes of Secrets of the Dead

Secrets of the Dead - S17E1

#1 - Scanning the Pyramids (Season 17 - Episode 1)

The only one of the seven wonders of the world still standing, the Great Pyramid of Khufu has fascinated people for centuries. Tracing the origin of the legends of secret chambers hidden in the heart of the pyramid, Scanning the Pyramids will show what lies within, solving a 4,500-year-old mystery, by following the first scientific mission in 30 years to be authorized by the Egyptian government to examine the pyramids of Egypt.

The episode was rated 8.39 from 31 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S19E3

#2 - Hindenburg's Fatal Flaws (Season 19 - Episode 3)

A fresh look at the science and conditions surrounding the Hindenburg explosion reveals ten particular flaws that directly led to the infamous disaster in 1937.

The episode was rated 8.10 from 10 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S17E4

#3 - Egypt’s Darkest Hour (Season 17 - Episode 4)

The discovery of a rare mass grave with the bones of nearly 60 people outside Luxor sends archaeologists on a quest to find out who the remains belong to, why they were buried the way they were and what was happening in ancient Egypt that would have led to a mass burial. Could the collapse of the empire’s Old Kingdom provide any clues?

The episode was rated 8.00 from 15 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S17E5

#4 - World War Speed (Season 17 - Episode 5)

Stories about drug use by Hitler and German forces during World War II have been widely told. What’s less well known is the Allied commanders’ embraced pharmacological “force enhancers” as well. By 1941, rumors about Nazi soldiers using a “super-drug” identified as the methamphetamine Pervitin were confirmed, and Allied commanders launched their own classified program to find the perfect war-fighting drug. During the war, one in three Allied soldiers were incapacitated without a physical scratch on them. Modern weapons and warfare proved so terrifying that almost as many men were shredded by combat fatigue and shell shock — now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — as by bullets and shrapnel. Allied commanders believed Benzedrine, an amphetamine similar to Pervitin, was the answer, hoping the amphetamine would defeat not just the need for sleep, but anxiety and fear among troops. How this drug affected the course of World War II is an ongoing controversy.

The episode was rated 8.00 from 17 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S18E1

#5 - Galileo’s Moon (Season 18 - Episode 1)

When it was published in 1610, Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) set in motion a scientific revolution. Using observations he made of both the earth’s moon and Jupiter’s moons, Galileo proved earth is not the center of the universe. Five hundred and fifty copies of the original treatise were originally printed and roughly 150 are known to exist today. When an original copy with Galileo’s signature and seemingly original watercolor paintings of the phases of the moon believed to be done by Galileo himself came on the market in 2005, Sidereus Nuncius caused a worldwide sensation 400 years after its creation… and again in 2012 when it was proved a fake.

The episode was rated 8.00 from 17 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S18E3

#6 - Building Notre Dame (Season 18 - Episode 3)

People often assume they're simply decorative but the gargoyles are vital to the structure of Notre Dame, serving as part of the water drainage system. Still in use today, when the drainage system was built in the Middle Ages, it led to significant architectural advancements for the cathedral.

The episode was rated 8.00 from 10 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S16E4

#7 - Leonardo, The Man Who Saved Science (Season 16 - Episode 4)

Leonardo da Vinci is well known for his inventions as well as his art. New evidence shows that many of his ideas were realized long before he sketched them out in his notebooks-some even 1,700 years before him! Of these “inventions” Leonardo never affirmed that his projects came from his original ideas. The film features drawings of his most famous ideas and inventions some of which trace their original creation to ancient Greece while others were a product of the scientific inventions of golden age of Islamic learning. This knowledge seemed to be lost in Europe during the Dark Ages until the Renaissance when Leonardo recovered it.

The episode was rated 7.91 from 22 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S12E6

#8 - The Man Who Saved the World (Season 12 - Episode 6)

In October 1962, the world held its breath. On the edge of the Caribbean Sea, just a few miles from the Florida coast, the two great superpowers were at a stand-off. Surrounded by twelve US destroyers, which were depth-charging his submarine to drive it to the surface, Captain Vitali Grigorievitch Savitsky panicked. Unable to contact Moscow and fearing war had begun, he ordered the launch of his submarine’s nuclear torpedoes. As the two sides inched perilously close to nuclear war—far closer than we ever knew before–just one man stood between Captain Savitsky’s order and mutually assured destruction. Set over four hours on October 27, 1962, the tensest moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this program tells the powerful but forgotten story of Vasili Arkhipov and Soviet submarine B-59. With most of the action set in a claustrophobic submarine running out of air, “The Man Who Saved the World” combines tense drama with eyewitness accounts and expert testimony about some of the most critical events in the Cold War.

The episode was rated 7.71 from 14 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S10E1

#9 - The Silver Pharaoh (Season 10 - Episode 1)

Tanis, Egypt, circa 1939. On the brink of World War II, an excavation team led by French archaeologist Pierre Montet unearthed an intact royal burial chamber containing treasures that rival the riches found in Tutankhamun’s tomb almost two decades before. But while the Tut discovery created an international sensation, the opening of the tomb in Tanis made barely a ripple in a world focused on impending war.

The episode was rated 7.71 from 17 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S16E2

#10 - Van Gogh's Ear (Season 16 - Episode 2)

The night when Vincent van Gogh cut his own ear defines his turbulent life and art. Generations have theorized about what really happened on December 23, 1888, in the French town of Arles, but no one has been clear on the details-until now.

The episode was rated 7.70 from 40 votes.

Secrets of the Dead - S18E2
#11 - Bombing Auschwitz
Season 18 - Episode 2

On December 3, 1944, The Washington Post published an editorial on the atrocities in Auschwitz with the headline “Genocide,” marking the first time the word appeared in a national newspaper.

The episode was rated from 20 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S11E3
#12 - China's Terracotta Warriors
Season 11 - Episode 3

The life-sized terracotta warriors of China are known throughout the world. This clay army of 8,000 including infantry, archers, generals and cavalry was discovered by archaeologists in 1974 after farmers digging a well near the Chinese city of Xian unearthed pieces of clay sculpted in human form. An amazing archaeological find, the terracotta warriors date back more than two thousand years. But what was the purpose of this army of clay soldiers? Who ordered its construction? How were they created? Secrets of the Dead investigates the story behind China’s Terracotta Warriors and documents their return to former glory for the first time.

The episode was rated from 13 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S16E5
#13 - The Woman in the Iron Coffin
Season 16 - Episode 5

Follow a team of forensic experts as they investigate the preserved remains of a young African American woman from 19th century New York and reveal the little-known story of early America’s free black communities.

The episode was rated from 28 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S15E3
#14 - The Alcatraz Escape
Season 15 - Episode 3

On June 11, 1962, bank robbers Frank Morris and Clarence & John Anglin launched a patchwork, raincoat raft into the frigid waters of San Francisco Bay surrounding Alcatraz Prison. The men disappeared, leaving behind a cold case that has mystified law enforcement for over half-a-century. Now, three Dutch scientists have used 3D modeling technology to show that it may have been possible for the men to have survived. Putting their theory to the test, the Dutchmen are recreating the daring escape as closely to the original as possible, right down to launching their own raincoat raft into the bay. Will they make it through the treacherous waters to safety or be swept out to sea? And can they prove once and for all what happened to the escapees?

The episode was rated from 24 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S17E2
#15 - Hannibal in the Alps
Season 17 - Episode 2

Hannibal, one of history’s most famous generals, achieved what the Romans thought to be impossible. With a vast army of 30,000 troops, 15,000 horses and 37 war elephants, he crossed the mighty Alps in only 16 days to launch an attack on Rome from the north. For more than 2,000 years, nobody has been able to prove which of the four possible routes Hannibal took across the Alps, and no physical evidence of Hannibal’s army has ever been found…until now.

The episode was rated from 27 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S13E5
#16 - The Mona Lisa Mystery
Season 13 - Episode 5

Discover a portrait of a younger and more beautiful Mona Lisa that predated the famous Louvre masterpiece. In September 2012, headline news shook the art world. A secret da Vinci had been uncovered, a portrait of a younger and more beautiful Mona Lisa that predated the famous Louvre masterpiece. Now an elite group of art historians, research physicists, restoration experts and forensic imaging specialists have gained exclusive access to analyze the painting first hand. Applying high-precision, scientific techniques they will aim to verify the painting’s date, decipher hidden mathematical codes within it, and unravel the clues that point to da Vinci’s genuine hand.

The episode was rated from 15 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S15E2
#17 - Jamestown's Dark Winter
Season 15 - Episode 2

The story of the Jamestown settlement, the first permanent English colony in the Americas, is seen through the prism of a 14-year-old English girl whose skull and severed leg were discovered during the excavation of the trash layer of a cellar. The study of her remains reveals evidence that one or more of the settlers, who endured a 1609-10 winter that's often called the "Starving Time," resorted to the unthinkable—cannibalism—to feed themselves.

The episode was rated from 24 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S13E3
#18 - Carthage's Lost Warriors
Season 13 - Episode 3

146 B.C.: Carthage, the proud capital of the vast Carthaginian Empire, is ablaze. Marauding Romans are mercilessly slaughtering and pillaging. Any survivors face a terrifying fate as slaves on Roman galleys or in their quarries. Escaping the bloody carnage is impossible...or is it? Could some of the once-mighty Carthaginians have got away? And even more incredibly – could they have turned west on an epic journey across the vast Atlantic Ocean to new shores? Did they set foot in South America, long before Columbus ever walked the face of the Earth? Ancient documents suggest there was a Carthaginian getaway, and modern science has found evidence to support these extraordinary claims.

The episode was rated from 20 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S12E5
#19 - Bones of the Buddha
Season 12 - Episode 5

Historian Charles Allen investigates whether ash and bone discovered in Northern India in 1898 are remains of the Buddha.

The episode was rated from 16 votes.
Secrets of the Dead - S12E4
#20 - Ultimate Tut
Season 12 - Episode 4

Secrets of the Dead is part detective story, part true-life drama that unearths evidence from around the world, challenging prevailing ideas and throwing fresh light on unexplained events.

The episode was rated from 14 votes.

Last updated: nov 18, 2022


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