Secrets of the Dead
Part detective story, part true-life drama, this series unearths evidence from around the world, challenging prevailing ideas and throwing fresh light on unexplained events. Using the most up-to-date science in the laboratory and in the field, scientists and researchers examine the missing pieces of each puzzle, completing the picture of what had been merely an assemblage of suppositions.
Secrets of the Dead Previous Broadcasts
The Lost Gardens of Babylon (Episode #1304)
KQED Life: Thu, Feb 19, 2015 -- 10:00 PM
This film examines a world wonder so elusive, most people have decided it must be mythical. Centuries of digging have turned up nothing. But they were digging in the wrong place. Now, this film proves the spectacular Hanging Gardens of Babylon did exist, shows us where they were, what they looked like and how they were constructed.
- KQED Life: Fri, Feb 20, 2015 -- 4:00 AM
Bones of the Buddha (Episode #1206H)
KQED Life: Tue, Feb 17, 2015 -- 8:00 PM
This show is a modern day Indiana Jones story: a tale of deception, treasure, intrepid adventurers and international realpolitik. Did a 19th-century British landowner really discover gold, jewels and the charred bones of the Lord Buddha in an underground chamber on his estate? 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, over 1000 separate jewels, and some ash and bone. One of the jars had 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 over 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, who died nearly 2,500 years ago.
- KQED Life: Wed, Feb 18, 2015 -- 2:00 AM
Ben Franklin's Bones (Episode #1401H)
KQED World: Sun, Feb 1, 2015 -- 4:00 PM
In November 1997, when the skeletal remains of at least 10 bodies were unearthed in the basement of an elegant townhouse, police feared it was the work of a serial killer. But when research indicated the bones actually dated to the mid-1700s, the implications became even more dramatic. This was no ordinary house: 36 Craven Street was the former residence of Benjamin Franklin.
This program reveals some questionable practices in medicine. In the 18th century, private anatomy schools were set up across London to give medical students the opportunity to learn anatomy by dissecting human cadavers. But supply lagged behind demand. Anatomists needed many more bodies than the ones of hanged murderers, which were the only bodies legally available at that time for their study. This created a business for body snatchers, also known as "resurrectionists," who exhumed corpses from graves to sell to the anatomists.