Secrets of the Dead

Monday 8:00 PM on PBS Premiered May 15, 2000 In Season


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Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 4/5/2017

Season 16 : Episode 5

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AIRS ON 1/24/2018

Season 17 : Episode 1

Episode Guide

    • Bugging Hitler's Soldiers
      Season 12 - Episode 2
      From PBS – Spied upon by MI19 in a bugging operation of unprecedented scale and cunning, 4,000 German POWs revealed their inner thoughts about the Third Reich and let slip military secrets that helped the Allies win WWII. The film tells the story of how those conversations were recorded and how they can now reveal, in shocking detail, the hearts and minds of the German fighter. Only now have more than 100,000 hours of these secret recordings been declassified, researched and cross referenced. The documentary includes intense, full-dialogue dramatic reconstructions that use the verbatim transcripts of these bugged conversations to reveal the dark heart of the Nazi regime as never before.moreless
    • Titanic's Ghosts
      Season 3 - Episode 2
      Historian Alan Ruffman and forensics expert Dr. Ryan Parr attempt to uncover the lives and identities of hundreds of bodies buried in Nova Scotia. These bodies represent just some of the victims of the Titanic disaster in 1912, recovered by Canadian life boats decades ago. The researchers hope to pay respect to the dead and reveal more about the tragedy by learning the stories of the departed.moreless
    • Bridge on the River Kwai
      Season 4 - Episode 1
      Bridge on the River Kwai from the show Secrets of the Dead, is an episode that tells the story of the Allied POWs and other prisoners forced to build the "Death Railway" for the Japanese army during World War Two. The railway connected Burma and Thailand at the cost of a hundred thousand casualties among those forced to build it.moreless
    • Umbrella Assassin
      Season 6 - Episode 1
      Find out just who's responsible for this Cold War assassination and how it all happened.
    • Bombing Nazi Dams
      Bombing Nazi Dams
      Season 3 - Episode 5
      In the year 1943, tensions between Nazi Germany and the British militia were growing. The British hoped to destroy the dams the Nazis had erected in the Ruhr valley. To do so, they would have to rely on Barnes Wallis, an innovative aircraft designer, and his frightening but effective "bouncing bomb."moreless
    • D-Day
      Season 4 - Episode 4
      Liev Schreiber narrates this exploration of D-Day, the deceptively simple nickname for a significant moment in world history. The Allies had to plan the invasion for a long time beforehand, perfecting their approach. When the actual events came to pass on the beaches of Normandy, it took a blend of technology, savvy and courage, which this documentary unveils.moreless
    • Gangland Graveyard
      Gangland Graveyard
      Season 5 - Episode 2
      Years of FBI detective work finally bring a Mafia crime family to its knees.
    • Escape From Auschwitz
      Season 7 - Episode 2
      The story of Rudolph Vrba and Alfred Wetzler, two young Slovak Jews who escaped the Auschwitz death camp. They immediately wrote a detailed account of their experiences resulting in thousands of lives being saved.
    • Herculaneum Uncovered
      Herculaneum Uncovered
      Season 6 - Episode 4
      On August 24th, A.D. 79, Mount Vesuvius erupted, burying the city of Herculaneum. This program documents the archaeological re-discovery of that ancient, well preserved city on the Bay of Naples.
    • Aztec Massacre
      Season 7 - Episode 1
      A recent archaeological discovery of more than 550 bodies near Mexico City suggests that the Aztecs were much more resistant to the Spanish Conquistadors than previously thought.
    • Dogfight Over Guadalcanal
      Dogfight Over Guadalcanal
      Season 6 - Episode 2
      A pivotal moment in World War II, one of the most legendary and best documented dogfights in Air Force history is reconstructed.
    • Witches' Curse
      Witches' Curse
      Season 2 - Episode 1
      Psychologist Linnda Caporael has dedicated her life to studying a mystery that some people might consider ancient history. Sparked by the horrors of the Salem Witch Trials, Caporael turns back time to uncover some surprising clues about the real nature of witchcraft in colonial America. From toxic bread to long-buried corpses, the infamous witch hunts may be more complicated than they seem.moreless
    • Headless Romans
      Headless Romans
      Season 6 - Episode 5
      This documentary attempts to explain the mystery behind an unusual ancient burial site unearthed in England, and it's connection with a Roman Emperor.
    • What Happened to the Hindenburg
      What Happened to the Hindenburg
      Season 1 - Episode 4
      An examination of what really caused the explosion of the Hindenburg zeppelin.
    • The Hunt for Nazi Scientists
      The Hunt for Nazi Scientists
      Season 5 - Episode 1
      Days after D-Day, Allied forces joined together for a different kind of mission. Through rare footage, eyewitness testimonies, and real-life accounts, the story is told of the race to capture the German physicists and other scientists and any secrets they may hold of advanced 'vengeance' weapons. Finding the scientists could mean gaining significant advantage in the looming Cold War.

      Liev Schreiber narrates the story of the scientists' dramatic capture and the influences they have on wars today.moreless
    • Irish Escape
      Irish Escape
      Season 6 - Episode 6
      Arrested in 1866, the Fremantle Six escape prison ten years later aboard a whaling ship the Catalpa.
    • Great Fire of Rome
      Great Fire of Rome
      Season 3 - Episode 3
      In the year 64 AD, the great city of Rome was ravaged by an uncontrollable fire. The flames destroyed some of the city's greatest treasures. Modern researchers believe that the emperor of the time, Nero, may have orchestrated the fire to make way for his own plans. However, contemporary forensics can help get to the bottom of these rumors.moreless
    • The Sinking of the Andrea Doria
      The Sinking of the Andrea Doria
      Season 5 - Episode 4
      An examination of the evidence to find out just what really happened when this luxury cruise liner sank in 1956.
    • Battle for the Bible
      Season 6 - Episode 3
      The story behind the creation of the King James Bible from mysterious and inaccessible Latin texts to a book for the common english speaking people.
    • Amazon Warrior Women
      Season 4 - Episode 5
      Archaeologist Jeannine Davis-Kimball explores the mythology and stories surrounding the Amazon women warriors. Tales of these brave and ferocious beauties have been popular in the public imagination for centuries. Davis-Kimball decides to uncover how much of the mythology is real and how much is speculation, with surprising and revealing results.
    • Killer Flu
      Killer Flu
      Season 4 - Episode 2
      At various points throughout history, the flu has been much more than a wintertime inconvenience. In 1918, the flu wiped out millions of lives all across the globe, leaving a trail of fear and mourning in its wake. Pathologist Jeffery Taubenberger looks back on the causes of the killer virus and the reasons for its unprecedented impact. Researchers hope to eventually prevent pandemics from ever happening again.moreless
    • Death at Jamestown
      Death at Jamestown
      Season 2 - Episode 3
      In 1607, Jamestown seemed to have a bright future. The small colony included hundreds of ettlers, all eager to start new lives in America. However, the settlement was doomed from the start. Centuries later, historians and researchers are still baffled by the numerous deaths that occurred over the course of a single year.moreless
    • The Mystery of the Black Death
      The Mystery of the Black Death
      Season 3 - Episode 1
      During the Middle Ages, thousands of people were struck down by a deadly plague, known as the Black Death. While many suffered, others' lives were spared. Geneticist Stephen O'Brien believes he can uncover the surprising origins of the disease, and retroactively explain why the Black Death left some people untouched.
    • Ben Franklin's Bones
      Ben Franklin's Bones
      Season 14 - Episode 1
      The Season 14 premiere details the discovery of skeletal remains of 10 people, including infants, found in the basement of Benjamin Franklin's London home.
    • Blackbeard's Lost Ship
      Blackbeard's Lost Ship
      Season 8 - Episode 4
      Off the North Carolina coast, a marine archaeology team believe they have found the Queen Anne's Revenge, Blackbeard's sunken flagship.
    • Mumbai Massacre
      Mumbai Massacre
      Season 9 - Episode 3
      A look at the Mumbai terrorist attacks of November 26, 2008, and how modern consumer technology played a vital role for all involved.
    • Michelangelo Revealed
      Michelangelo Revealed
      Season 9 - Episode 1
      Art historian Antonio Forcellino has uncovered evidence that Michelangelo was involved with a secret fellowship that was trying to reform the Catholic Church from within.
    • Airmen and the Headhunters
      Airmen and the Headhunters
      Season 9 - Episode 2
      An examination of the rescue of a crew of U.S. airmen who were shot down during World War II over Japanese-occupied Borneo.
    • Voyage of the Courtesans
      Voyage of the Courtesans
      Season 5 - Episode 3
      In 1789, over two hundred female convicts were pulled out of London's prisons and shipped off to Australia for a life of servitude. See how they took control of the situation to create a better life for themselves and the future of Australia.
    • Graveyard of the Giant Beasts
      Season 16 - Episode 2
      Scientists attempt to determine what was the apex predator in northern Colombia 58 million years ago. The candidates include Titanoboa, a 43-foot snake, and a giant crocodilian.
    • Surviving Alcatraz
      Surviving Alcatraz
      Season 15 - Episode 2
      An investigation of the 1962 escape of three inmates from the infamous Alcatraz prison. It's been long believed that the men were swept out to sea, where they drowned, but scientists now think that they could have made it to land.
    • Carthage's Lost Warriors
      Carthage's Lost Warriors
      Season 13 - Episode 3
      Evidence that Carthaginians fleeing the Romans in 146 B.C. landed in South America is studied.
    • Jamestown's Dark Winter
      Season 14 - Episode 3
      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.moreless
    • Vampire Legend
      Season 15 - Episode 1
      The Season 15 premiere explores the vampire myth, which—if manuscripts and archaeological evidence are believed—emanated from medieval England. The lore was popularized by Bram Stoker's "Dracula," of course, and still has adherents, including Mirca Mitrica, who recalls taking part in a ritual in 2004 Romania to ensure a possible vampire stayed buried. Also interviewed: Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew Dacre Stoker; and archaeologist Dominic Powlesland, who's uncovered deviant Anglo-Saxon burials.moreless
    • The Real Trojan Horse
      Season 14 - Episode 2
      The truth behind the story of Troy and the Trojan horse, as described by Homer in "The Illiad," is uncovered by a team of historians, military engineers and archaeologists.
    • Resurrecting Richard III
      Resurrecting Richard III
      Season 13 - Episode 6
      Scientists study the bones of King Richard III (1452-85), the infamous English monarch. (The remains were discovered beneath a parking lot in Leicester, England, in 2012.) Included: whether the curvature of his spine would have hindered him in battle.
    • The Mona Lisa Mystery
      The Mona Lisa Mystery
      Season 13 - Episode 5
      An alternate Leonardo da Vinci painting of Mona Lisa that was discovered in 2012 is studied. Art historians, research physicists, restoration experts and forensic-imaging specialists analyze the artwork, which shows a younger, happier Mona Lisa, in an attempt to verify its date and decipher any mathematical codes that may be hidden within it.moreless
    • The Lost Gardens of Babylon
      The Lost Gardens of Babylon
      Season 13 - Episode 4
    • Cleopatra's Lost Tomb
      Season 15 - Episode 3
      An amateur archaeologist searches for Cleopatra's tomb.
    • Nero's Sunken City
      Season 16 - Episode 4
      Archaeologists map the underwater ruins of what was ancient Rome's version of Las Vegas.
    • 4/5/17
      An exploration of whether many of Leonardo da Vinci's ideas were borrowed from other sources.
    • Teotihuacan's Lost Kings
      Season 15 - Episode 4
      Archaeologists explore hidden chambers beneath the ancient Mexican city of Teotihuacán.
    • After Stonehenge
      Season 16 - Episode 1
      The Season 16 premiere examines a prehistoric English settlement that's shedding new light on the history of the western world.
    • Van Gogh's Ear
      Van Gogh's Ear
      Season 16 - Episode 3
      Art historian Bernadette Murphy investigates what caused Dutch artist Vincent van Gogh (1853-90) to lop off his ear
    • Catastrophe (1)
      Catastrophe (1)
      Season 1 - Episode 1
      An exploration of the theory of David Keys that a "catastrophe" in the mid sixth century caused major changes in the world's weather for the next several years.
    • Death On the Railroad
      Season 12 - Episode 13
      From PBS – A classic story involving foul play, cover ups, a murder mystery and a voyage of discovery explains what happened to a group of Irish men who immigrated to America. In 1832, railroad contractor Philip Duffy hired 57 Irish immigrants to lay railroad tracks in West Chester, Pennsylvania. Less than two months after their arrival, all 57 were dead. Did they all die — as was widely believed — from cholera? Or were some murdered? In 2003, twin brothers who discovered a secret file among their grandfather’s papers investigated the deaths of these men and found the location of their final resting place. Using the latest forensic and scientific investigative techniques, DNA, forensic analysis, facial reconstruction and historical detective work in Ireland and the U.S., modern detectives and experts unravel this extraordinary story.moreless
    • Bones of the Buddha
      Season 12 - Episode 12
      From PBS – When colonial estate manager Willie Peppe set his workers digging at a mysterious hill in Northern India in 1898, he had no idea what they'd find. Just over 20 feet down, they made an amazing discovery: a huge stone coffer, containing five reliquary jars, more than 1,000 separate jewels and some ash and bone. One of the jars bore an inscription that appeared to say that these were the remains of the Buddha himself. This seemed to be the most extraordinary find in Indian archaeology. But doubt and scandal have hung over this amazing find for more than 100 years. For some, the whole thing is an elaborate hoax. For others, it is no less than the final resting place of the leader of one of the world's great religions, a sage who died nearly 2,500 years ago. For the doubters, suspicion focuses on a key figure from the time, disgraced German archaeologist Dr. Anton Fuhrer. Renowned historian Charles Allen sets out to solve this extraordinary mystery, once and for all.moreless
    • The Man Who Saved the World: Full Episode
      The little-known story of how close to nuclear destruction the world really was during those dark October days and how the heroism of one man saved us all
    • Tragedy at the Pole
      Tragedy at the Pole
      Season 3 - Episode 4
      Captain Robert Falcon Scott had a lofty goal. In 1911, he led a troop of men across the Antarctica, hoping to reach the South Pole. While they made their goal, the way home was marked with tragedy and loss. Now, Scott's voyage has been preserved in cultural mythology. This documentary draws on archival materials to better understand the events.moreless
    • Shroud of Christ?
      Shroud of Christ?
      Season 4 - Episode 3
      Shroud of Christ? from the show Secrets of the Dead is an episode on the famous Shroud of Turin that has been claimed as Jesus Christ's actual burial shroud. The episode follows the Shroud of Turin from the earliest records and then traces its passage as it passes from hand to hand, examining both the evidence for and against the claim made about its origin.moreless
    • Doping for Gold
      Doping for Gold
      Season 8 - Episode 1
      Doping for Gold examines the secret steroid program instituted by the former East Germany in the 1970s and 80s. For two decades the government subjected its athletes to large doses of anabolic steroids in order to improve the country's performance in international sporting events. This was often done without the athletes' knowledge. The program follows up with many athletes whose lives were destroyed by the drugs.moreless
    • Sinking Atlantis
      Season 8 - Episode 2
      Sinking Atlantis attempts to explain the disappearance of the Minoans, an early culture which flourished on the island of Crete. The episode begins by examining and discarding the two most common theories behind their disappearance (a giant volcanic eruption and a Greek invasion) before introducing archaeologist Sandy MacGillivray, who explains that the Minoans may have been wiped out by a tsunami.moreless
    • Executed in Error
      Season 8 - Episode 3
      One of the most notorious and highly publicised murder cases of the early 20th century was that of the American doctor, Hawley Crippen, convicted in England for the murder of his wife. It was one of the first cases where forensic science evidence was considered of major importance to the conviction. This PBS documentary re-examines and evaluates the evidence using modern forensic methods. The results uncover some interesting facts that were unknown at the time of the conviction.moreless
    • Japanese SuperSub
      Season 9 - Episode 1
      Japanese SuperSub recounts Japan's superior submarine technology and reveals how close the Japanese came to using the subs to blow up the Panama Canal, terrorize the U.S. and possibly enact a deadly biological attack. The supersub, obtained by the U.S. at the end of the war, combined the tactical advantages of sea and sky. But why did America sink one of its most prized military captures?moreless
    • Search for the First Human
      Human beings have long wondered about their original ancestors. Modern forensics techniques have brought scientists ever closer to discovering the elusive origins of humankind. The ancient and scarce remains of the "Millennium Man" could hold the secrets to evolution, but they could also raise more questions and concerns about human life.moreless
    • The Syphilis Enigma
      The Syphilis Enigma
      Season 2 - Episode 6
      Liev Schreiber narrates the dark and complex history of syphilis, a sometimes deadly disease that wreaked havoc in 16th century Europe. For ages, historians have held that Christopher Columbus' explorers brought the disease back with them. However, new research suggests that syphilis could have a more complicated Old World history.
    • Catastrophe (2)
      Catastrophe (2)
      Season 1 - Episode 2
      An exploration of the theory of David Keys that a "catastrophe" in the mid sixth century caused major changes in the world's weather for the next several years.
    • The Lost Vikings
      The Lost Vikings
      Season 1 - Episode 3
      This program trys to discover why a colony of Vikings, after nearly four hundred years of settlement, would disappear suddenly from the coast of Greenland.
    • Cannibalism in the Canyon
      Cannibalism in the Canyon
      Season 1 - Episode 5
      The Anasazi people of the American Southwest were once thought to be a model society, but now it seems they may have practiced ritual cannibalism. This program explores the evidence for how they lived and why they disappeared.
    • Murder at Stonehenge
      Murder at Stonehenge
      Season 2 - Episode 2
      Liev Schreiber narrates the strange tale of a murder discovered at one of the world's most mysterious landmarks. Scientists and forensics experts, including archeologist Mike Pitts, work to uncover the clues surrounding a long-dead body. The corpse was discovered at Stonehenge, bringing up a whole series of questions about the body's previous identity and how he came to be buried at the mystical monument.moreless
    • Day of the Zulu
      Day of the Zulu
      Season 2 - Episode 4
      In 1879, the Anglo-Zulu wars in South Africa reached an intense peak. Finally, the Zulu warriors managed an unprecedented victory, wiping out countless British troops. Centuries later, archeologist Tony Pollard and historian Ian Knight discover some surprising weapons, tricks and tools that the Zulu warriors used to secure their violent victory.moreless
    • Tomb of Christ
      Tomb of Christ
      Season 2 - Episode 5
      Located in Jerusalem, the Church of the Holy Sepulcher is rumored to have been the final resting spot of Christ's body before his resurrection. Martin Biddle and Birthe Kiolbye-Biddle, two Oxford archeologists, tackle this famous belief and uncover clues that may prove the story false. At the same time, their research could reveal new insights about Christ's crucifixion.moreless
    • Churchill's Deadly Decision
      Season 9 - Episode 2
      July 3, 1940. After only 54 days into office, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered his Navy to take control of French ships or destroy them. What led to this unprecedented and controversial attack was a series of events that saw France being overrun by the Nazis in a matter of weeks, Roosevelt fearing that Britain would fall, and Churchill needing a way to prove otherwise.moreless
    • Deadliest Battle
      Season 9 - Episode 3
      The Battle of Stalingrad is known as one of the most pivotal actions of World War II. For decades after the war, the battle was seen as a victory for Stalin, whose carefully executed withdrawal baited Hitler's army into a battle that slowly decimated the German forces. But now, newly-released archives are revealing a very different picture of the battle that changed the course of history.moreless
    • The World's Biggest Bomb
      Season 10 - Episode 10
      Beginning in the 1950s, American and Soviet scientists engaged in a dangerous race to see who could build and detonate the world's largest bomb.
    • The Silver Pharaoh
      Season 10 - Episode 4
      The royal tomb of Pharaoh Psusennes I is one of the most spectacular of all the ancient Egyptian treasures - even more remarkable than that of Tutankhamen. So why hasn't the world heard about it? What mysteries does it contain? And what does it reveal about ancient Egypt?
    • Lost Ships of Rome
      Season 10 - Episode 6
      In 2009 a team of marine archeologists carrying out a sonar survey of the seabed around the remote Italian island of Ventotene made an astonishing discovery.
    • Slave Ship Mutiny
      Season 10 - Episode 5
      The slave ship Meermin set sail from Madagascar for South Africa in 1766, but the ship would never make it to Cape Town, the slaves mutinied and managed to overpower the Dutch crew, ordering the ship be sailed back to Madagascar and freedom.
    • Lost in the Amazon
      Season 10 - Episode 7
      A modern day quest to find the truth behind one of exploration's greatest mysteries: What happened to famed adventurer Col. Percy Fawcett who went looking for a city of gold--the Lost City of "Z"--in the Amazon in 1925 and disappeared in the jungles of Brazil forever?
    • China's Terracotta Warriors
      Season 10 - Episode 9
      Secrets of the Dead reveals that the Chinese may have had Henry Ford beat by more than 2,000 years with their own assembly line used to produce 8,000 lavishly painted terracotta warriors.

      Scanning the Pyramids
      Scanning the Pyramids
      Season 17 - Episode 1
      A scientific team is granted access by the Egyptian government to solve a 4,500-year-old mystery involving the Great Pyramid at Giza.