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Secrets of the Dead

Death on the Railroad (#1203)

Examines the deaths of 57 Irish immigrants hired to lay railroad tracks in Pennsylvania in 1832. [56 minutes] TV-PG Closed Captioning

PBS Video

Information For Teachers

Grade Levels
Curricular Areas
Social Studies
Series Length
76 episodes
Average Episode Length
59 minutes
Record Rights
Record and retain for 1 year from each broadcast. No duplication allowed.
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Visit the IPTV Education website to access timely, relevant resources for your classroom.

Series Description: Part detective story, part true-life drama, SECRETS OF THE DEAD 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.

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  • Catastrophe (Part 1 & 2) (#101)

    Evidence is uncovered from around the world that the Dark Ages was triggered by an actual event. [96 minutes]

  • Catastrophe! - Part 2 (#102)

    Forensic scientists attempt to discover if an actual event may have triggered the dark ages. [56 minutes]

  • What Happened to the Hindenburg?/Cannibalism in the Canyon (#103)

    Civilization of legend and lore, a colony of Vikings in Greenland left no clues to their sudden and mysterious disappearance. Or did they? On a desolate coast of Greenland, an international team of archaeologists, forensic anthropologists, entomologists, and botanists sets out to investigate minute clues in a complex chain of events that may have led to the demise of a Viking colony. Unearthing the ruins of a settlement that included a cathedral complete with stained glass, the scientists carefully identify and date the vestiges of the Viking society. Among their discoveries are a mini Ice Age, a war with neighboring Inuits, and a religious order that may have doomed the Vikings to obsolescence. [56 minutes]

  • What Happened to the Hindenburg?/Cannibalism in the Canyon (#104)

    A hydrogen specialist sets out on a personal quest to prove how he thinks the airship exploded. [85 minutes]

  • Witches Curse (#201)

    More than 300 years after the infamous Salem Witch trials, one woman'sinspiration has led to the theory that there may be a perfectly natural and scientific explanation for the symptoms of those who were said to be bewitched. Behavioral psychologist Linda Caporeal's quest for a rational explanation leads viewers on a startling journey from wrenching convulsions and vivid deliriums to contaminated crops, hallucinogenic drugs and an ancient bog man who was brutally hacked to death. [56 minutes]

  • Murder at Stonehenge (#202)

    In the shadow of Stonehenge, an ancient beheaded body has been found - stuffed into a shallow grave. Who was this man and how did he die? Archeologist and Stonehenge expert Mike Pitts has taken on the role of private eye, using modern science and forensic techniques as he attempts to solve this ancient murder mystery. His investigation takes him through time - from the Stone Age to the myths of King Arthur, from Anglo-Saxon battles and pagan burial sites to new systems of law and order, crime and punishment. [56 minutes]

  • Death at Jamestown (#203)

    Were these deaths the result of bad planning, bad luck or a sinister plot to sabotage the colony? [56 minutes]

  • Day of the Zulu (#204)

    During the Anglo-Zulu wars that defined the colonization of South Africa, small British regiments' successes against huge forces of native warriors became the stuff of legends. But in one key battle in 1879, the Impis, unique and efficient Zulu fighting units, decimated the British battalions. A new archeological collection and scientific analysis paint a fascinating new picture of troop movement, casualties, and the changing tides of the battle to shed light on the mistakes made by the British and the innovative strategy of the Zulu. [56 minutes]

  • Tomb of Christ (#205)

    An archeological team attempts to prove the actual location where Christ was crucified and buried. [56 minutes]

  • The Syphilis Enigma (#206)

    When Christopher Columbus crossed the Atlantic in 1492, his men carried with them diseases that all but wiped out the native Indian populations. As the Europeans and American Indians interacted, however, the transfer of diseases cut both ways, and common theory has the explorers carrying the scourge of syphilis back to Europe. But now, a pre-Columbus skeleton unearthed in a strange English monastery has placed accepted history in severe doubt. In this program, investigators examine twisted and deformed bodies ravaged by the disease and travel to port cities where the epidemic once spread. What they find might determine if the mysterious English skeleton offers cause to rewrite the history books. [56 minutes]

  • Search for the First Human (#301)

    In November 2000 a team of French and Kenyan scientists, led by Martin Pickford and Brigitte Senut, excavated a cache of fossilized bones in a remote part of Kenya, a place that is often called "the cradle of humanity." Remarkably, the bones looked surprisingly human. Crucially, they were excavated from a geological formation that had been previously -- and reliably -- dated at 6 million years old. Calling their find "Millennium Man," the scientists claimed they had discovered the oldest direct ancestor of humankind. Today, their discovery is rocking the world of palaeoanthropology -- challenging long held theories about the life of early hominids and the shape of the human evolutionary tree. The bones appear to hold the key to understanding how the human line evolved from apes -- by learning how to walk. Further, the discoverers claim this new species is even more similar to human than one of the most famous finds in the study of human origins -- the 3,000,000 year-old hominid, Lucy. Since her discovery in 1974 by Don Johanson, she has been a symbol for the study of our origins. But if Pickford and Senut are right, Lucy may not, in fact, be our direct ancestor. This film follows Pickford and Senut in Kenya and Paris as they analyze the evidence in support of their claims. In a scientific detective story, the program examines the stages of dating the fossils and interpreting the evidence. It spotlights the techniques and technology used by scientists both in analyzing ancient fossils and in comparing the remains of early hominids to modern apes and humans. [56 minutes]

  • Mystery of the Black Death (#302)

    Tells the story of the survivors and investigates the world of a horrible plague. [56 minutes]

  • Titanic's Ghosts (#303)

    Will the identity of an unidentified victim of the ship wreck finally be revealed? [56 minutes]

  • Great Fire of Rome (#304)

    Scientists and historians use ancient accounts to try to answer if this fire was accident or arson. [56 minutes]

  • Tragedy at the Pole (#305)

    Scientists reconstruct a day-by-day account of Robert F. Scott's fatal journey in Antarctica. [56 minutes]

  • Bombing Nazi Dams (#306)

    Investigates the urgent rush to create, test and deploy a bomb that could skip across water. [56 minutes]

  • Bridge on the River Kwai (#401)

    Pieces together the real story behind the birth and death of this lost 250 mile railway during WWII. [56 minutes]

  • The Killer Flu (#402)

    Hunting for answers to how this pandemic killed 40 million people throughout the world in 1918. [56 minutes]

  • Shroud of Christ? (#403)

    Reveals the new forensic evidence that suggests this treasured relic is indeed 2,000 years old. [56 minutes]

  • D-Day (#404)

    The story of how the invasion came together, with testimony from troops who landed on the beaches. [93 minutes]

  • Amazon Warrior Women (#405)

    Investigates if the remains of newly found women actually are the mythical Amazons of Greek legend. [56 minutes]

  • The Hunt for Nazi Scientists (#501)

    Explore the race between the Allies to capture Hitler's top scientists at the end of World War II. [56 minutes]

  • Gangland Graveyard (#502)

    Explore the dramatic downfall of "Big Joey" Massino and the FBI effort to cripple the mob. [56 minutes]

  • Voyage of the Courtesans (#503)

    Liev Schreiber narrates the true story of 200 females sent to an Australian prison colony in 1789. [56 minutes]

  • The Sinking of the Andrea Doria (#504)

    Explores the collision of two transatlantic passenger ships and the insurance company cover-up. [56 minutes]

  • Umbrella Assassin (#505)

    Examine evidence that may reveal how this weapon of Cold War espionage actually worked. [56 minutes]

  • Dogfight Over Guadalcanal (#601)

    Recreates a dramatic WWII showdown over the Pacific using the memoirs of the dueling pilots. [56 minutes]

  • Battle for the Bible (#602)

    In the 15th and 16th centuries, men set out to bring the Scriptures to people in their own language. [56 minutes]

  • Herculaneum Uncovered (#603)

    Geo-archeologists chip away at soft rock to examine this city buried by a volcanic eruption. [56 minutes]

  • Headless Romans (#604)

    45 decapitated, Roman-era skeletons are unearthed in the back garden of a house in England. [56 minutes]

  • Irish Escape (#605)

    Discover the swashbuckling details of the dramatic rescue of six Irish political prisoners in 1876. [56 minutes]

  • Aztec Massacre (#701)

    Forensic and archeological techniques explain how these Spanish colonists met their gruesome end. [56 minutes]

  • Escape from Auschwitz (#702)

    The story of the spectacular escape from Auschwitz in 1944 by two young Slovak Jews is revealed. [56 minutes]

  • Doping for Gold (#801)

    Reveals the secretive, Cold War world of East German athletes who were given dangerous steroids. [56 minutes]

  • Sinking Atlantis (#802)

    Reveals the truth behind the reign and downfall of the Minoans, Europe's first great civilization. [56 minutes]

  • Executed In Error (#803)

    Hawley Crippen was convicted of murdering his wife in 1910. Evidence shows the body wasn't hers. [56 minutes]

  • Blackbeard's Lost Ship (#804)

    Weapons, timbers and personal effects shed light on the ship's demise and the pirate's downfall. [56 minutes]

  • Michelangelo Revealed (#901)

    Cover-ups, vendettas and brave religious expression expose the darker side of the master artist. [56 minutes]

  • The Airmen and the Headhunters (#902)

    The story of airmen shot down over the jungles of Japanese occupied Borneo during Word War II. [56 minutes]

  • Mumbai Massacre (#903)

    Victims reveal how they passed information to social networks during the terrorist attack in India. [56 minutes]

  • Japanese Supersub (#904)

    Investigates Japan's creation of a submarine that could blow up the Panama Canal and reach the U.S. [56 minutes]

  • Churchill's Deadly Decision (#1001)

    Focuses on Winston Churchill's decision to destroy French ships after France surrendered to Hilter. [56 minutes]

  • Deadliest Battle (#1002)

    The true story of Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union in 1941 and the Battle of Stalingrad. [56 minutes]

  • The Silver Pharaoh (#1003)

    The royal tomb of Pharaoh Psusennes I is a spectacular and remarkable ancient Egyptian treasure. [56 minutes]

  • Slave Ship Mutiny (#1004)

    Archaeologists, historians and slave descendents investigate the Meermin shipwreck in 1766. [56 minutes]

  • Lost Ships of Rome (#1101)

    Marine archeologists discover the wrecks of five ancient Roman ships near the island of Ventotene. [56 minutes]

  • Lost in the Amazon (#1102)

    In 1925, adventurer Col. Percy Fawcett disappeared while searching for a city of gold in Brazil. [56 minutes]

  • China's Terracotta Warriors (#1103)

    Archaeologists reveal 8,000 terracotta warriors created for the Emperor of China 2,200 years ago. [56 minutes]

  • The World's Biggest Bomb (#1104)

    US and Soviet scientists began a dangerous race to build the world's biggest bomb in the 1950s. [56 minutes]

  • The Man Who Saved the World (#1201)

    Follow the drama surrounding the B-59 Soviet submarine during a critical point in the Cold War. [56 minutes]

  • Bugging Hitler's Soldiers (#1202)

    The bugging operation by MI19 that recorded confessions by 4,000 German POW's is highlighted. [56 minutes]

  • Cavemen Cold Case (#1204)

    A tomb of 49,000 year-old Neanderthal bones are discovered in a remote region of northern Spain. [56 minutes]

  • Ultimate Tut (#1205)

    New insights into how Tutankhamen died and how the the Egyptian Pharaoh was buried are revealed. [116 minutes]

  • Bones of the Buddha (#1206)

    Doubt and scandal hang over a British landowner's discovery of the bones of Lord Buddha in 1898. [56 minutes]

  • JFK: One PM Central Standard Time (#1301)

    The reporting of the 1963 assassination of President Kennedy within the CBS newsroom is examined. [56 minutes]

  • The Lost Diary of Dr. Livingstone (#1302)

    New forensic techniques are used to study the lost diary of famed explorer Dr. David Livingstone. [56 minutes]

  • Carthage's Lost Warriors (#1303)

    Examines whether Carthaginians fled the marauding Romans by escaping across the Atlantic Ocean. [56 minutes]

  • The Lost Gardens of Babylon (#1304)

    The existence, location and construction of the spectacular Hanging Gardens of Babylon are detailed. [56 minutes]

  • The Mona Lisa Mystery (#1305)

    Sophisticated scientific analysis is used to investigate if the Mona Lisa is the original version. [56 minutes]

  • Resurrecting Richard III (#1306)

    Scientist test the hunchbacked bones of King Richard III, found with an arrow in the spine in 2011. [56 minutes]

  • Ben Franklin's Bones (#1401)

    Bones found in Benjamin Franklin's British residence were used in an illegal anatomy school. [56 minutes]

  • The Real Trojan Horse (#1402)

    Discover new archeological evidence that suggests Troy and the Trojan War may be more than myth. [56 minutes]

  • Jamestown's Dark Winter (#1403)

    Forensic anthropologists excavate the early American colony and uncover dark secrets. [56 minutes]

  • Vampire Legend (#1501)

    "Deviant" burials dating back to medieval England force a re-examination of modern vampire lore. [56 minutes]

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