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National Geographic Specials

Lost Treasures of Afghanistan (#2110)

This program follows two interwoven quests for legendary treasures from Afghanistan's past. One is the search for the "Bactrian Hoard," a remarkable treasure discovered just as the Soviets were invading Afghanistan, and comprising some 20,000 gold pieces -- the largest treasure of antiquity, larger even than that of King Tut. The Bactrian Hoard disappeared in the 30 years of war that followed the Soviet invasion, and was feared lost or destroyed. The film follows the treasure's original discoverer as he returns to Afghanistan to see if this treasure somehow survived the war. The other quest follows an Afghan archeologist who believes there is a third, 1000-foot Buddha buried in Bamiyan near where two enormous Buddha statues were destroyed by the Taliban. [56 minutes] Closed Captioning

This episode has not aired in the past few months on Iowa Public Television.

PBS Video

Series Description: The new season of NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIALS explores compelling topics in the areas of science adventure, wildlife and history.

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  • Return of the Wolf (#2001)

    For more than 50 years, wolves were driven from Yellowstone. Without them, coyotes emerged as the top predators, elk herds grew dramatically and the park's natural wildlife balance was disturbed. Now, in a bold and controversial experiment, the wolf has been returned to Yellowstone. And suddenly, the park's creatures must face one of nature's most skillful predators. A NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC cameraman has been tracking the wolves for two years. Working closely with park biologists, he has documented the remarkable comeback of the wolf and its effect on the creatures of Yellowstone. ~ [56 minutes]

  • Mayday! Lost at Sea (#2002)

    For thousands of years, man has ventured out to the sea to harvest its bounty, but in return for what the sea gives, it also takes. Danger is a fact of life understood by seasoned fishermen, but all too easily forgotten in an age of steel boats and modern rescue capability. Faced with depleting stocks, fishermen now take chances their fathers wouldn't have dared to take, and no amount of new technology can guarantee the safety of a fisherman who pushes too hard in an unforgiving sea. In the fishing business, catches now fetch high prices, but the ultimate cost of economic survival can be death at sea. It's a high-stakes game, and all too often the gamble doesn't pay off. There are more ways to die at sea than in a perfect storm. From an industry under pressure in New England, to a tale of arrogance and greed in the Bering Sea, to the tragic loss of seven young men from one community in the Irish Sea, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC takes an inside look at the world of commercial fishing. Meet the people and hear the stories of men who risk their lives to make a living from the sea. [56 minutes]

  • Air Force One (#2003)

    With exclusive access, National Geographic Television goes behind the scenes on an Air Force One mission to tell the stories of the people who keep the world's most powerful passenger plane flying. This NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIAL includes new interviews with former Presidents Clinton, Carter, Ford and Bush about the flying "White House." Weaving the contemporary mission with some of the most powerful moments in history -- Roosevelt at Yalta, Kennedy in Dallas, Nixon in China -- National Geographic reveals the inside of this flying command center, a place where history is made seven miles up. [56 minutes]

  • The Quest for Noah's Flood (#2004)

    For famed deep-sea explorer and National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Robert Ballard, best known for discovering the Titanic, the Black Sea is an alluring place of hidden mystery. Barred to Western scientists during the Cold War, the area just might be a treasure trove of perfectly intact ancient wooden ships and perhaps even prehistoric artifacts, including those that might support the controversial new theory that people were living in the Black Sea area when it was hit by a cataclysmic flood around 5600 BC. Could this be the source of the biblical Noah's flood and similar ancient legends? [56 minutes]

  • Inside The Vatican (#2005)

    National Geographic, granted unprecedented access to The Vatican's hallowed halls, takes viewers beyond the tourist attractions to reveal the complex layers of life and history inside the territorial base of the Holy See. [56 minutes]

  • The Incredible Human Body (#2006)

    What makes us uniquely us? National Geographic Television sets out to explore the enigmatic human body from the inside out. Thanks to new science and revolutionary imaging systems, our understanding of our own anatomy has changed dramatically from decades past. Harnessing that advanced power, National Geographic Television enters the human machine for a visually spectacular journey. Discarding the traditional use of illustrations, models and generic footage, National Geographic utilizes the latest 4-D imaging systems to take extraordinary journeys inside the bodies of real people, right down to their stem cells. We witness the union of a human sperm and egg then meticulously document how those two cells evolve into a living baby being born. As a patient undergoes surgery to remove a tumor, National Geographic uses computer-generated data to make the incredible leap into his actual brain, traveling through it to explore its mysteries. From the way our muscles flex to the way our brains change as we learn, this special employs cutting-edge technology to document our bodies as never before. [56 minutes]

  • Inca Mummies: Secrets of a Lost World (#2007)

    The Incas were a people who built one of the greatest empires the world has ever known. Today, clues to this magnificent civilization remain scattered across Peru, buried with the dead. Tracing the rise and fall of the Inca, this NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC SPECIAL reveals new discoveries that will rewrite Inca history as it's known. [56 minutes]

  • Ambassador: Under Fire Overseas (#2008)

    This special goes behind embassy walls, with unprecedented access to those who keep America's international relations stable and strong in the midst of crisis and calm. In Japan, newly appointed Ambassador Howard Baker is the key to mending relations with Japan after the fatal collision of a U.S. submarine and a Japanese fishing ship. National Geographic was the only television crew to accompany Ambassador Baker when he delivered the emotional apology to the victims' families on behalf of the United States. In Pakistan, the new ambassador arrived one month before the September 11 attacks and now is a frontline warrior in the struggle against terrorism. On the other side of the world, the U.S. ambassador to Guatemala must play an important role in preventing that country from plunging back into civil war. Her previous post was in Africa, where she survived the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya in 1998 - an experience that she shares in this program, which includes interviews with more than a dozen U.S. diplomats and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell. [56 minutes]

  • Egypt Eternal: The Quest for Lost Tombs (#2009)

    Outside Cairo, in the shadow of Egypt's first pyramid, is a city of the dead known as Saqqara. Here French archaeologist Alain Zivie has discovered tombs built for some of the highest-ranking dignitaries of Egypt's New Kingdom period. NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC follows Zivie and his team for two years as they delve deep into an underground labyrinth. One discovery is a tomb belonging to an ambassador who negotiated a peace treaty between the warring Egyptians and the Hittites during the reign of Ramses II. In a funeral chamber filled with thousands of cat mummies, rare artifacts suggest that the tomb originally belonged to the royal nurse of the young pharaoh-to-be, Tutankhamen. The program corresponds to a feature story in the September 2002 issue of National Geographic magazine. [56 minutes]

  • Skin (#2010)

    People are fascinated by the natural survival suit that they wear every day. This special goes deep into this extraordinary organ to show not just how it functions, but how it shapes cultural identity. The program examines how skin regenerates, how it heals itself, and how it receives and send signals. Going beyond the science, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC also takes a look at the many cultural, racial and emotional complexities associated with skin. The program corresponds to a feature story in the November 2002 issue of National Geographic magazine. [56 minutes]

  • Diamonds of War (#2011)

    From the bustling streets of Manhattan to the diamond exchanges of Antwerp to the war-ravaged hills of Sierra Leone, international investigative reporter Dominic Cunningham-Reid presents the history, culture and global politics that drive diamonds to be the world's most sought after stone. This special is an insider's look at how this small piece of carbon affects people's lives all over the world. Cunningham-Reid documents the devastating consequences of a civil war fueled by the diamond black market and reveals the harsh lives of those who risk life and limb to mine such a precious commodity. Captured on film by hidden cameras, diamond smugglers admit running illegal diamonds out of Sierra Leone to the legitimate diamond markets of Europe. From the boardrooms of Ottawa to the underwater mines of Africa, Cunningham-Reid seeks to expose the legal and illegal trade in diamonds. [56 minutes]

  • The Fbi (#2012)

    With unprecedented access, National Geographic goes into the heart of the FBI for a revealing look at its complicated history, its top special agents and its most vital operation today: stopping terrorism. Immortalized in books and movies, and in its own controversial history, the FBI has long been shrouded in secrecy. Over the years, the FBI has been responsible for everything from tracking down the nation's most dangerous criminals and organized crime figures to the recovery of precious works of art and the execution of counterintelligence. Today, the nation's top investigative agency faces its heaviest burden - bringing security to an insecure land. National Geographic waves away the smoke and mirrors to take a revealing look at an institution at a crossroads, with unparalleled access to its director, its fabled team of profilers and its methods. [56 minutes]

  • Inside Mecca (#2101)

    With 1.3 billion believers, Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world. Over 80 percent of its believers live outside the Middle East, but once a year adherents from across the globe converge on Mecca, the birthplace of Muhammad, for Hajj, the largest, most dramatic display of religious fervor in the world. As Muslims ask pardon for their sins and renew their spiritual commitment, National Geographic takes its cameras inside Mecca to capture the exclusive story of the rites and rituals of this fantastic event and the vigils and holy places denied to those of other faiths. [56 minutes]

  • Inside Special Forces (#2102)

    In 1756, nine companies of American colonists were recruited to fight the British in the French and Indian War. Such units were used occasionally throughout U.S. history, but it was not until the 1960s that the role of Special Forces was formalized by President John F. Kennedy to combat a new type of war by "guerillas, subversives, insurgents and assassins." This program follows this highly skilled, elite group of soldiers as they make their way from the home front to the front lines to face an unpredictable enemy in an unfamiliar land. [56 minutes]

  • In Search of the Jaguar (#2103)

    Pound for pound, the jaguar is the strongest animal in the world. Like an extreme wrecking machine, it kills its prey in one leap by crushing the skull of its victims with its powerful jaws. The world's third largest cat - after the tiger and lion - the jaguar can survive in a variety of terrain ranging from swamplands to drought-stricken country. But for all its survival tools, it's no match for man. Today, the cat's status ranges from threatened to endangered to extinct throughout the Americas. National Geographic explores the world of these big cats and reflects on the human spirit that drives one scientist to save the jaguar from extinction. [56 minutes]

  • Whales In Crisis (#2104)

    Humpbacks, orcas or pilots - there is something about whales that endears them to people. It is an ancient relationship, long celebrated in myth and legend; today, the bond is as strong as ever. National Geographic travels from the arctic to the Florida keys to meet a new generation of whale fanatics - men and women dedicated to studying, saving and preserving the world's remaining population of whales. In Antarctica, a National Geographic scientist is studying the mysterious bowhead, which could be the longest-living creature on earth, possibly surviving 200 years or more. In Tonga, the program gets close to humpbacks and covers the debate over the resumption of whaling. And in the Florida keys, National Geographic spends weeks inside a major stranding operation and introduces a baby pilot whale - lucky number seven - whose future is very much in doubt. [56 minutes]

  • Dawn of the Maya (#2105)

    Thanks to more than 100 years of research, much more is now known about the classic Maya period, an era of great cities ruled by powerful kings. Now, a revolution in Maya studies is pushing back the clock as scientists discover the dawn of the Maya. In the jungles of Guatemala, National Geographic archeologist Richard Hansen has discovered a previously unknown dynasty - kings who built the biggest pyramid on earth hundreds of years before the Spaniards arrived. Not far away, another National Geographic archeologist, Bill Saturno, has found a mural that dates from the pre-classic Maya period as well. The first such mural found in 50 years, it is also the oldest ever discovered. It shows that the elaborate Maya mythology so familiar from the classic period was likely in place hundreds of years earlier than previously thought. And in yet another National Geographic-funded Guatemalan archaeological site, extraordinary carvings at a newly excavated temple show that the early Maya made significant artistic achievements. These and other finds covered in this new National Geographic Special are showing that the great Maya civilization was already flourishing around the time of Christ, suffered a collapse and went through a great resurgence, all before the Europeans arrived. [56 minutes]

  • Quest for the Phoenicians (#2106)

    They are the "bad boys" in the Bible, and their seafaring skills are legendary. But who exactly were the Phoenicians, what became of them and what was the secret of their success? National Geographic sets out to solve this mystery through the pioneering work of three very different scientists. Armed with a revolutionary ROV, the first robotic deep sea "archaeologist" capable of deep-water excavation, Dr. Robert Ballard is on the trail of Phoenician shipwrecks. Meanwhile, in a cave at the bottom of the rock of Gibraltar, a Spanish archaeologist is excavating the site where Phoenician sailors stopped to pray before venturing into the open ocean. And from Lebanon to Tunisia, geneticist Dr. Spencer Wells is searching for Phoenicians -in the DNA of their descendants. These stories converge to paint a new portrait of the Phoenicians, their accomplishments and their ultimate defeat by the Romans. [56 minutes]

  • Last Stand of the Great Bear (#2107)

    It is an extraordinary place - one of the largest intact temperate rainforests in North America, a place conservationists call Great Bear. On Canada's Pacific coast north of Vancouver, grizzlies, black bears and wolves roam this ancient forest, and dolphins, seals and killer whales patrol its myriad inlets and bays. Wild salmon runs in the midst of it all - connecting the forest with the sea. Now, with the Great Bear rainforest under threat from logging, scientists are racing to prove that the place is so extraordinary that it must be better protected. National Geographic joins a team of experts on a 250-mile scientific adventure as they sail through the pristine waterways of this amazing place. [56 minutes]

  • Arlington: Field of Honor (#2108)

    Once little more than a potter's field, Arlington Cemetery has become a national shrine and a treasury of American history. Both the famous and the obscure are buried here, from John F. Kennedy and the Unknown Soldiers to astronauts from the space shuttle Challenger, polar explorers Peary and Henson, and some 3,000 freed slaves. On the 140th anniversary of the first burial at Arlington in May 1864, National Geographic presents a portrait of one of America's most sacred places. Viewers take a privileged behind-the-scenes look at the intense daily rituals and activities of a military cemetery, through rare archival footage and the real-life stories of the heroes and heroines buried here. They also meet the people who make the cemetery work, defining it with their service. [56 minutes]

  • Civil War Gold (#2109)

    The S.S. Republic was a double side-paddle steamship sunk by a hurricane en route from New York to New Orleans after the Civil War. On board were 30 crew and 20 passengers, and some special cargo: nearly $400,000 in gold and silver coin. All the crew and passengers made it safely off the vessel, although a number died before they could be rescued. The gold and silver horde went down with the ship. Today, the value of those rare coins may exceed $150 million - making it one of the the richest treasure ever discovered at sea. National Geographic follows a band of adventurers from Odyssey Marine Exploration as they search for the treasure that could have helped prevent the New Orleans economy from grinding to halt during the currency-starved Reconstruction period. [56 minutes]

  • The New Royals (#2111)

    Americans dismiss monarchy as a quaint and outdated institution, but some 28 monarchies still exist around the world and most remain relevant to the people they rule. National Geographic travels the globe in search of the last kings and queens to learn why monarchy endures and to ponder its future. [56 minutes]

  • The Sinking of the Warship Belgrano (#2112)

    Search for the Belgrano", ventures into the treacherous waters off the southern coast of Argentina in search of the ARA General Belgrano, the Argentine warship carrying 300 sailors sunk in 1982 by a British submarine during the Falklands War. Was the ship on a routine patrol just outside the "exclusion zone" as Argentina has claimed, or was the Belgrano actively threatening British forces in the area? [86 minutes]

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