Secrets of the Dead

The BEST episodes of Secrets of the Dead

Every episode ever - ranked by fan votes!

Sometimes the truth gets carried to the grave. The techniques of modern forensic science are used to investigate a historical mystery to find proof of what really happened.

Last Updated: 5/20/2022Network: PBS
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What Happened to the Hindenburg
star
8.50
2 votes

#1 - What Happened to the Hindenburg

Season 1 - Episode 4 - Aired 6/15/2000

An examination of what really caused the explosion of the Hindenburg zeppelin.

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The First Circle of Stonehenge
star
8.50
8 votes

#2 - The First Circle of Stonehenge

Season 19 - Episode 3 - Aired 11/3/2021

A decade-long archaeological quest reveals that the oldest stones of Stonehenge originally belonged to a much earlier sacred site – a stone circle built on a rugged, remote hillside in west Wales.

Catastrophe (1)
star
8.47
62 votes

#3 - Catastrophe (1)

Season 1 - Episode 1 - Aired 5/15/2000

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.

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Scanning the Pyramids
star
8.43
30 votes

#4 - Scanning the Pyramids

Season 17 - Episode 1 - Aired 1/24/2018

The only one of the seven wonders of the world still standing, the Great Pyramid of Khufu has fascinated people for centuries. Tracing the origin of the legends of secret chambers hidden in the heart of the pyramid, Scanning the Pyramids will show what lies within, solving a 4,500-year-old mystery, by following the first scientific mission in 30 years to be authorized by the Egyptian government to examine the pyramids of Egypt.

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Magellan's Crossing
star
8.33
6 votes

#5 - Magellan's Crossing

Season 19 - Episode 1 - Aired 10/20/2021

500 years ago, Ferdinand Magellan and his crew set sail to gain control of the global spice trade. What resulted was the first circumnavigation of the earth, laying the groundwork for colonization and globalization still felt today.

Galileo’s Moon
star
8.20
15 votes

#6 - Galileo’s Moon

Season 18 - Episode 1 - Aired 7/2/2019

When it was published in 1610, Galileo’s Sidereus Nuncius (Starry Messenger) set in motion a scientific revolution. Using observations he made of both the earth’s moon and Jupiter’s moons, Galileo proved earth is not the center of the universe. Five hundred and fifty copies of the original treatise were originally printed and roughly 150 are known to exist today. When an original copy with Galileo’s signature and seemingly original watercolor paintings of the phases of the moon believed to be done by Galileo himself came on the market in 2005, Sidereus Nuncius caused a worldwide sensation 400 years after its creation… and again in 2012 when it was proved a fake.

Viking Warrior Queen
star
8.13
8 votes

#7 - Viking Warrior Queen

Season 18 - Episode 4 - Aired 7/7/2020

A team of archaeologists examine one of the most significant Viking graves ever found and test the DNA of the remains of the female warrior buried inside, rewriting our understanding of Viking society.

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Death at Jamestown
star
8.00
2 votes

#8 - Death at Jamestown

Season 2 - Episode 3 - Aired 7/10/2001

British colonists expected to discover riches, but instead they found death by malnutrition, hostile natives, disease -- and arsenic?

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Herculaneum Uncovered
star
8.00
5 votes

#9 - Herculaneum Uncovered

Season 6 - Episode 3 - Aired 5/2/2007

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.

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Egypt’s Darkest Hour
star
8.00
15 votes

#10 - Egypt’s Darkest Hour

Season 17 - Episode 4 - Aired 4/3/2019

The discovery of a rare mass grave with the bones of nearly 60 people outside Luxor sends archaeologists on a quest to find out who the remains belong to, why they were buried the way they were and what was happening in ancient Egypt that would have led to a mass burial. Could the collapse of the empire’s Old Kingdom provide any clues?

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World War Speed
star
8.00
17 votes

#11 - World War Speed

Season 17 - Episode 5 - Aired 6/25/2019

Stories about drug use by Hitler and German forces during World War II have been widely told. What’s less well known is the Allied commanders’ embraced pharmacological “force enhancers” as well. By 1941, rumors about Nazi soldiers using a “super-drug” identified as the methamphetamine Pervitin were confirmed, and Allied commanders launched their own classified program to find the perfect war-fighting drug. During the war, one in three Allied soldiers were incapacitated without a physical scratch on them. Modern weapons and warfare proved so terrifying that almost as many men were shredded by combat fatigue and shell shock — now known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) — as by bullets and shrapnel. Allied commanders believed Benzedrine, an amphetamine similar to Pervitin, was the answer, hoping the amphetamine would defeat not just the need for sleep, but anxiety and fear among troops. How this drug affected the course of World War II is an ongoing controversy.

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Building Notre Dame
star
8.00
10 votes

#12 - Building Notre Dame

Season 18 - Episode 3 - Aired 4/28/2020

People often assume they're simply decorative but the gargoyles are vital to the structure of Notre Dame, serving as part of the water drainage system. Still in use today, when the drainage system was built in the Middle Ages, it led to significant architectural advancements for the cathedral.

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Blackbeard's Lost Ship
star
7.89
35 votes

#13 - Blackbeard's Lost Ship

Season 8 - Episode 4 - Aired 4/22/2009

Edward Teach, alias Blackbeard, was the most notorious pirate of his day. At the height of his rein, he commanded a fleet of four ships and a crew of 400 men. They were ruthless seafaring raiders who terrorizing vessels in American waters. In 1718, Blackbeard even blockaded the city of Charleston, crippling its economy. Eventually he was caught and beheaded by a posse from the Royal Navy. Now, 300 years later, a marine archaeology team believe they have found his sunken flagship, Queen Anne’s Revenge, off the North Carolina coast. The remains of the shipwreck are helping solve the most enduring mystery surrounding the infamous pirate captain – did he accidentally run his ship aground, or was it a deliberate plot to betray his crew and cheat them out of their share of the plunder?

Leonardo, The Man Who Saved Science
star
7.88
25 votes

#14 - Leonardo, The Man Who Saved Science

Season 16 - Episode 4 - Aired 4/5/2017

Leonardo da Vinci is well known for his inventions as well as his art. New evidence shows that many of his ideas were realized long before he sketched them out in his notebooks-some even 1,700 years before him! Of these “inventions” Leonardo never affirmed that his projects came from his original ideas. The film features drawings of his most famous ideas and inventions some of which trace their original creation to ancient Greece while others were a product of the scientific inventions of golden age of Islamic learning. This knowledge seemed to be lost in Europe during the Dark Ages until the Renaissance when Leonardo recovered it.

A Samurai in the Vatican
star
7.86
7 votes

#15 - A Samurai in the Vatican

Season 19 - Episode 5 - Aired 11/17/2021

In 1613, feudal lord Date Masamune sent a Japanese diplomatic mission to Europe to negotiate with the Pope and the King of Spain in hopes of opening a new trade route. Led by samurai Hasekura Tsunenaga and Franciscan monk Luis Sotelo, the expedition spent seven years traveling one-third of the globe.

The Caravaggio Heist
star
7.86
7 votes

#16 - The Caravaggio Heist

Season 19 - Episode 6 - Aired 11/24/2021

The Man Who Saved the World
star
7.82
17 votes

#17 - The Man Who Saved the World

Season 12 - Episode 6 - Aired 10/23/2012

In October 1962, the world held its breath. On the edge of the Caribbean Sea, just a few miles from the Florida coast, the two great superpowers were at a stand-off. Surrounded by twelve US destroyers, which were depth-charging his submarine to drive it to the surface, Captain Vitali Grigorievitch Savitsky panicked. Unable to contact Moscow and fearing war had begun, he ordered the launch of his submarine’s nuclear torpedoes. As the two sides inched perilously close to nuclear war—far closer than we ever knew before–just one man stood between Captain Savitsky’s order and mutually assured destruction. Set over four hours on October 27, 1962, the tensest moments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, this program tells the powerful but forgotten story of Vasili Arkhipov and Soviet submarine B-59. With most of the action set in a claustrophobic submarine running out of air, “The Man Who Saved the World” combines tense drama with eyewitness accounts and expert testimony about some of the most critical events in the Cold War.

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The Lost Vikings
star
7.75
4 votes

#18 - The Lost Vikings

Season 1 - Episode 3 - Aired 5/16/2000

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.

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Van Gogh's Ear
star
7.72
43 votes

#19 - Van Gogh's Ear

Season 16 - Episode 2 - Aired 12/14/2016

The night when Vincent van Gogh cut his own ear defines his turbulent life and art. Generations have theorized about what really happened on December 23, 1888, in the French town of Arles, but no one has been clear on the details-until now.

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Hindenburg's Fatal Flaws
star
7.71
7 votes

#20 - Hindenburg's Fatal Flaws

Season 19 - Episode 4 - Aired 11/10/2021

A fresh look at the science and conditions surrounding the Hindenburg explosion reveals ten particular flaws that directly led to the infamous disaster in 1937.

Bombing Auschwitz
star
7.70
20 votes

#21 - Bombing Auschwitz

Season 18 - Episode 2 - Aired 1/21/2020

On December 3, 1944, The Washington Post published an editorial on the atrocities in Auschwitz with the headline “Genocide,” marking the first time the word appeared in a national newspaper.

Escape from Auschwitz
star
7.67
3 votes

#22 - Escape from Auschwitz

Season 7 - Episode 2 - Aired 4/30/2008

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.

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The Silver Pharaoh
star
7.67
18 votes

#23 - The Silver Pharaoh

Season 10 - Episode 1 - Aired 11/3/2010

Tanis, Egypt, circa 1939. On the brink of World War II, an excavation team led by French archaeologist Pierre Montet unearthed an intact royal burial chamber containing treasures that rival the riches found in Tutankhamun’s tomb almost two decades before. But while the Tut discovery created an international sensation, the opening of the tomb in Tanis made barely a ripple in a world focused on impending war.

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The Woman in the Iron Coffin
star
7.67
33 votes

#24 - The Woman in the Iron Coffin

Season 16 - Episode 5 - Aired 10/3/2018

Follow a team of forensic experts as they investigate the preserved remains of a young African American woman from 19th century New York and reveal the little-known story of early America’s free black communities.

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China's Terracotta Warriors
star
7.62
13 votes

#25 - China's Terracotta Warriors

Season 11 - Episode 3 - Aired 5/4/2011

The life-sized terracotta warriors of China are known throughout the world. This clay army of 8,000 including infantry, archers, generals and cavalry was discovered by archaeologists in 1974 after farmers digging a well near the Chinese city of Xian unearthed pieces of clay sculpted in human form. An amazing archaeological find, the terracotta warriors date back more than two thousand years. But what was the purpose of this army of clay soldiers? Who ordered its construction? How were they created? Secrets of the Dead investigates the story behind China’s Terracotta Warriors and documents their return to former glory for the first time.

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