Tomb Detectives

Watch Tomb Detectives

  • 2009
  • 1 Season

Modern forensics and archeology are called into play in this six-part series that looks at some of history

Tomb Detectives
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Plague Mummies
6. Plague Mummies
June 28, 2009
Nearly two hundred perfectly preserved mummies have been found in a church crypt in the Hungarian town of Vac. One in particular could be the key to curing Tuberculosis and is now stored in the Natural History Museum in Budapest. A team led by Dr Mark Spigelman, expert on ancient bacteria, tests the mummies to extract the DNA. The information gleaned from this ancient DNA could provide information that will help fight this killer disease. The team's pioneering techniques may also help in the search for cures for other illnesses.
Vampire Graves
5. Vampire Graves
June 21, 2009
Excavations of an abandoned cemetery in Griswold, Connecticut, uncover a grave dating from the 1800s in which the bones had been re-arranged in the pattern of the "ňúskull and cross bones'. On the outskirts of Prague, in the town of Celakovice, a number of burials are unearthed showing signs of decapitation and bone re-arrangement. Archaeologists suspect the bone re-arrangements were connected to a folkloric belief in vampires.
Child Mummies
4. Child Mummies
June 14, 2009
8000 years ago in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile many tiny children, babies and even fetuses were painstakingly mummified after death by their people - the Chinchorro. These are the oldest known mummified remains. A team of scientists from the University of Tarapaca hopes to uncover the secrets of these mummified babies.
Bog Bodies
3. Bog Bodies
June 7, 2009
From the eerie swampy bog lands of Northern Europe have emerged a series of sinister mummified human bodies dating from about 2000 years ago. The evidence suggests they all share the dark secret of a violent death. Danish forensic archaeologist Niels Lynnerup is making extensive scientific analysis on the world's most famous and startling bog body - Tolland Man. Using technology from X ray to CAT scan Niels and the team are trying to establish exactly how the Tolland Man died.
Battlefield of Bones
2. Battlefield of Bones
May 31, 2009
Outside a small village in northern France, a routine archaeological dig of an Iron Age site unearths a macabre case - thousands of human bones. Most shocking of all is that there are no skulls. Hundreds of bodies appear to have been hung up in rows on a wooden structure and left to rot and fall to the ground. A smaller number of bodies, also headless, were buried in a more orderly fashion with headstones marking each grave. Were these people ritually killed and displayed or the victims of a huge battle? A team of archaeologists investigates.
Severed Skull
1. Severed Skull
May 24, 2009
Twenty decapitated skeletons have been unearthed during the recent dig of a Roman cemetery near York in the UK. Some show signs of a violent death. Others were dispatched more cleanly. Were they executed or killed in a purge? Then a solitary skull is discovered during excavations at Vindolanda, a Roman frontier garrison along Hadrian's Wall in England. Is there a connection between the two finds? Forensic analysis reveals that this was a man who had been viciously beaten around the head. Damage to the skull indicates that the head had been de-fleshed after death and displayed on a spike. It smacks of Celtic head-hunting practices, but it's dated to the beginning of the third century AD, the height of Roman power in the area. So what is this barbaric trophy doing in a Roman garrison? A team of archaeologists is on the scene to try to solve this mystery.

Modern forensics and archeology are called into play in this six-part series that looks at some of history

  • Premiere Date
    May 24, 2009