Aubrey Manning presents a new series of
archaeological mysteries from around the world.
The Antikythera Mechanism (above, right) is an intricate bronze device of wheels, dials and gears
created more than two thousand years ago by the Ancient Greeks.
Found at the bottom of the sea by sponge divers on the wreck of a Roman cargo ship
it has fascinated astronomers, mathematicians, engineers and historians ever since.
Crafted with precision engineering and covered with astronomical symbols and inscriptions –
was it an early astronomical computer? The sophisticated technology used to make it isn’t seen until
medieval clocks 1000 years later. Could its existence mean the ancient Greeks
knew the Earth moved round the Sun more than a millennia before
Copernicus brought it to the world in the sixteenth century?
Aubrey goes in search of who made it, what it was used for and why its existence
might mean a rethink of our understanding of the history of science and technology.
Unearthing Mysteries - s01e01 - Kings Valley 55
**********In 1907, Egyptologist Edward Ayrton discovered a tomb
in the Valley of the Kings. The identity of the mummy it contained
has been the source of intense debate ever since. Could it belong
to Akhenaten, one of the greatest pharaohs of ancient Egypt?
Professor Aubrey Manning travels to Egypt to unearth the mystery
inside tomb 55.
Unearthing Mysteries - s01e02 - Glozel
**********n 1924, a French boy discovered an archaeological site on his family's farm, which turned out to be
the opening to a tomb. The story became a major French scandal when the site was declared invalid.
Now, after 75 years, the findings have finally proven genuine. Aubrey Manning visits the site, near Vichy,
and the boy, now owner and keeper of one of the world's most intriguing private museums.
Unearthing Mysteries - s01e03 - Lost Map of London
**********The oldest known map of London was made in Tudor times. No copies of it have survived and only three
of the 15 plates from which it was printed are known to exist. The hunt is on for the missing 12. Aubrey Manning
traces the history of the map and looks at why a painting on copper in an art collection near you may turn over
a missing part of London's history.
Unearthing Mysteries - s02e01 - Sounds of the Stone Age
**********Professor Aubrey Manning investigates the acoustic properties of some of Britain's oldest structures.
Examining the theory that ancient stone circles and burial chambers might have unique acoustic properties
that gave rise to strange psychological effects, meeting the archaeologists who are testing the theory.
Unearthing Mysteries - s02e02 - The Amber Room
**********Professor Aubrey Manning tells the story of an intricately crafted
jewelled room, dubbed the Eighth Wonder of the World. Manning talks to
the people hunting one of the greatest missing art treasures. A gift from the
King of Prussia to Peter the Great in 1716, the Amber Room was an intricately
crafted jewelled room. The Nazis took it from St Petersburg in 1941,
piece by piece, back to Germany, and it hasn't been seen since 1945.
Unearthing Mysteries - s02e03 - The Drinking Cult
**********Professor Aubrey Manning travels to Romania to study the remains of a Roman temple and the
cult of Libre Patre.In 1989, a Romanian archaeologist unearthed three statues of Bacchus,
the Roman god of wine. They had been deliberately smashed, over 2,000 years ago. But by whom?
Unearthing Mysteries - s02e04 - The Pharos Lighthouse of Alexandria
**********Professor Aubrey Manning investigates the fate of one of history's most impressive and enigmatic buildings.
He meets the archaeologists who have found the remains of the seventh wonder of the world, which stood for
17 centuries, guiding sailors to the coast of Egypt. No one knows what it looked like, but clues to its structure
are now being pieced together.
Unearthing Mysteries - s03e01 - The 'Red Lady' of Paviland
********Aubrey Manning discovers what an ancient skeleton can tell us about how
Homo Sapiens came to succeed Neanderthals.
The story of an ancient body found in 1823 in a cave on the Gower Peninsula.
Unearthing Mysteries - s03e02 - London's Medieval Medicine
**********Professor Aubrey Manning examines archaeological findings from an excavation of
a hospital cemetery in London's Spitalfields.
Unearthing Mysteries - s03e03 - Saxon Steel
***********He finds out about archaeological evidence that steel was invented not during the
Industrial Revolution but in Saxon times.
How was top-notch steel being made in Saxon Hampshire when it apparently wasn't 'invented' until the 18th Century?
Unearthing Mysteries - s03e04 - San Galgano and the Sword in the Stone
***********The mystery of the severed hands, the sword in the stone and a search for a tomb.
The story of Italy's St Galgano.
Unearthing Mysteries - s04e01 - Were Horses First Tamed In Kazakhstan?
***********In the first of a new series of Unearthing Mysteries Aubrey Manning examines evidence from excavations
in Kazakhstan of what could be the earliest domestication of the horse. 5,500 years ago, on the steppes of Northern
Kazakhstan, groups of nomadic hunters began to settle down and build permanent houses in large villages. Now, an
international team of archaeologists is excavating some of those houses to try and unearth a mystery: what gave
them the stability to settle down?
The answer seems to be the horse. There are hundreds of thousands of horse bones on the sites.
But were the animals hunted or domesticated?
Unearthing Mysteries - s04e02 - One of The World’s First Cities
Built In A Swamp
***********Aubrey Manning visits Catal Huyuk in Turkey, possibly
the world's first city. But how was the place structured and why
was it built in the middle of a swamp?
On the wide, flat South Anatolian Plain, near the Turkish city of Konya,
there is a broad mound, about 80 metres high. Excavations in the
1960s revealed its importance as one of the first cities the world
had known. Nine thousand years ago, Çatal Hüyük was home to up to
ten thousand people. The whole mound is made up of the remains of
mud brick houses, one on top of another. Many are adorned with painted
plaster and the horned skulls of cattle. The settlement occupied a
key stage in history, when people were first settling down,
domesticating cattle and driving the agricultural revolution.
IMAGE: Left: Excavation manager Shahina Farid tells Aubrey about the
sophisticated mud brick work in this 9,000 year old house.
Right: Shahina points out the pits excavated in the floor of the house where
human burials were found. At the right of the picture are the remains of a hearth
or oven and the marks where steps led down from the entrance hole in the roof above.
Unearthing Mysteries - s04e03 - Was the Amesbury Archer the
'King of Stonehenge"?
********** Aubrey Manning investigates the richest early
Bronze Age burial ever found in Britain. The so-called Amesbury
Archer was buried with gold earrings, copper knives, flint arrow
heads and the stone wrist guards of an Archer. But who was he
and what was his connection with Stonehenge
which was being constructed only a few miles away at the time?
Could he be 'The King of Stonehenge'?
Unearthing Mysteries - s04e04 - Meadowcroft Rock Shelter
***********Aubrey Manning visits the Meadowcroft
Rock Shelter near Pittsburgh to examine evidence
that there were humans in North America 14,000 years
ago, earlier than anyone thought possible. But how did
they get there? Over the ice from the North-West or even
across the Atlantic Ocean from the East?
Unearthing Mysteries - s05e01 - Were the Neanderthals of Norfolk Scavengers?
*********** Aubrey Manning visits a site in Norfolk that is littered with the bones
of great mammoths and the flint tools of our Neanderthal cousins. But were they
lucky scavengers or were they hunting down the great beasts? Last summer,
a worker at Lynford quarry in Norfolk noticed a large, pale object in the gravel
he was excavating. It turned out to be a mammoth bone 60, 000 years old.
Soon, archaeologists were finding a vast number of bones, including the three
metre tusks of great mammoths and the remains of woolly rhinoceros.
Amongst them were beautifully shaped tools of black flint. This was one of those
rare occasions where early pre-history could be excavated in its detailed context.
But were the Neanderthal people 60, 000 years ago simply scavengers or were they
able to hunt down and kill mighty mammoths?
Unearthing Mysteries - s05e02 - Diagnosing Diseases of Ancient Egyptians
*********** Aubrey Manning returns to Egypt to find out about an ambitious project that hopes to unearth the
diseases suffered by the Ancient Egyptians. We know that Tutankamun possibly died from a severe
blow to the head from x-rays that were done in the 1960s, but what can new scientific techniques tell us?
Is it possible that diseases such as atherosclerosis (furred-up arteries) are not as modern as we think?
Unearthing Mysteries - s05e03 - Tri Radial Cairns
***********The moors of Northumberland are an ancient landscape.
They are littered with trackways, medieval field systems, Iron Age hill forts and
Bronze Age burial cairns. But among them, members of the Boarders
Archaeological Society began to notice rough piles of rocks in certain
alignments, with arms pointing North and to the sunrise at special times.
Were they just old sheep shelters with chance alignments, or could they be
an important relic of ancient ceremonies in this ritual landscape?
Unearthing Mysteries - s05e04 - Great Orme Mine
**********Great Orme Head, above Llandudno in North Wales, is riddled with mines,
mostly dating back a couple of centuries. But a few years ago, archaeologists began
to uncover a much earlier series of tunnels beneath the mine waste. They date back
more than 4 000 years to the Bronze age, and several miles of passageways and
caverns have been found so far. But how was the hard rock mined? How and where
were the hundreds of tons of copper ore smelted? And what sort of social structure
and trade supported it all?
Unearthing Mysteries - s06e01 - Land of Punt
***********There are depictions of voyages to the Land of Punt and the most famous is on
the mortuary temple of the female pharaoh Hatshepsut in the 18th Dynasty (around 1479 - 1458 BC).
This relief shows mountains of incense, animals, boats and the people of Punt and Ancient Egypt.
However, from the details of this and other references, it is unclear as to where this mysterious
land of plenty was. Some believe it is in Africa, some believe it could be in the Arabian Peninsula,
and others say it could be both sides of the Red Sea.
Unearthing Mysteries - s06e02 - Wharram Percy
***********Aubrey Manning visits Wharram Percy to try to discover
why the entire village came to be abandoned. Could it have been
raiders from Scotland? There's evidence of a raid and burning in
a village nearby. Could it have been the Black Death? In the mid
14th Century that plague accounted for the death of perhaps a
quarter or even a third of the population of England. But life at
Wharram Percy seems to have continued.
Unearthing Mysteries -
s06e03 - British Cave Art
***********High on the wall
of Church Hole cave, it's
hard to see any art other
than modern graffiti (top).
But when the lines of a
prehistoric engraving are
the outline of a stag becomes clear.
Unearthing Mysteries - s06e04 - Cahokia
**********For most of us, American history starts in 1492 when Columbus sailed the ocean blue,
yet before that time, some monumental structures were being built all across the East Coast, up
to the Mississippi River, which are little talked about.
Aubrey Manning visits Cahokia in Illinois, the site of the biggest earthen structure in North America
to find out who built it and why, and what happened to the societies living there before the Europeans.
Unearthing Mysteries - s07e01 - The Tunnelers of WW I
**********Aubrey meets members of the Durand group, a team of
volunteer archaeologists, munitions experts, historians and both
retired and serving soldiers.
They're investigating a vast network of hundreds of miles of tunnels
which criss-cross beneath France and Belgium. These tunnels were
dug by skilled miners and used to support the fighting overhead in
Linking to deep below the battlefields, tunnels were vital for
communication, joining army headquarters, relief supply
depots, huge water reservoirs, chapels and hospitals.
The tunnels were also crucial for laying mines and explosives.
Specially-trained listeners could recognise the sound of enemy digging,
mine-laying and even pick out the sounds of slugs. Their skills saved the lives of hundreds of men.
Unearthing Mysteries - s07e02 - A Roman Port in India
***********The Romans were great travellers and are well-known for having established
their culture across much of Europe, the Mediterranean and Northern Africa.
There were places further afield that were important to them too, and although they were
not able to annexe them as part of the Roman Empire, they were certainly regular visitors.
One such place is the topic of this week's Unearthing Mysteries. Aubrey Manning goes in search
of the ancient Roman port of Muziris on the Malabar Coast in Kerala, India.
Unearthing Mysteries - s07e03 - Loch Tay
**********The flanks of Ben Lawers on the northern side of Loch Tay in the Central Scottish Highlands
form a desolate landscape. But 200 years ago a population of nearly 1500 was scratching out a living
from the thin, cold, wet soil.
The mystery is why their society collapsed and indeed how it established in the first place. For the past
four years, a multidisciplinary team of archaeologists has been excavating, surveying and analysing to
try and find some answers. They call it the Ben Lawers Historic Landscape Project.
Unearthing Mysteries - s07e04 - The First Americans
**********But a few excavations have now started a major controversy. Aubrey Manning visits one of them,
the Meadowcroft rock shelter near Pittsburgh where Jim Adovasio started to dig down beneath the Clovis
layers. He began to find evidence of human habitation and an earlier generation of stone tools. Similar finds
have now been reported from Cactus Hill in West Virginia and even from a site in Chile in South America.
But just how good is the evidence for dates of up to 14,000 years ago? And if people were in the Americas
that long ago, how did they get there? They surely could not have crossed the great ice sheet that capped
the north of the continent in the last Ice Age. Could they have hopped from inlet to inlet around the edges
of the glaciers using small boats? Or could they even have made the Atlantic crossing from Europe?
Similarities with stone tools from Europe suggest that perhaps they could have, but the arguments
- and the mystery - continue.
Unearthing Mysteries - s08e01 - Antikythera Mechanism
***********Aubrey Manning explores one of the most extraordinary
surviving artefacts from the Ancient Greek world. Found by divers
in 1900, The Antikythera mechanism is an intricate mechanism of
bronze dials and gears that has baffled researchers in the decades
since its discovery.
Exactly what kind of astronomical device is it? And does it mean
that the ancient Greeks were centuries ahead of their time by putting
the Sun at the centre of their universe - pre-empting Copernicus by
1400 years? Aubrey travels to Athens to uncover findings that
could revolutionise our understanding of the history of astronomy.
Unearthing Mysteries - s08e02 - the first human inhabitants of Britain
**********Who were the first human inhabitants of Britain? Over the last few years,
a group of scientists under Chris Stringer of the Natural History Museum have been
trying to find out as part of AHOB – the Ancient Human Occupation if Britain project.
Aubrey Manning visits the Norfolk coast to look at the latest evidence.
At Happisburgh, the cliffs are crumbling. Every storm washes more away and
sea-view homes are threatened. But the residents’ misfortune brings an opportunity
for archaeologists. Beneath the beach lies the Cromer Forest bed, a deposit of dark
clay, rich in the remains of plants and the bones of animals.
The beach has also yielded the occasional flint hand axe. For a long time, everyone
thought that they were washed down from younger deposits above, but excavations
have now proved that they come from the forest bed, where some of the bones show signs of butchery.
Over the past few million years, Britain has suffered a series of ice ages, with thick sheets
of ice advancing South as far as North London. They have left their mark in the cliffs and,
by counting the layers of glacial deposits, it now seems that the Forest bed must be at least 650,000 years old.
Unearthing Mysteries - s08e02 - Boadicea
********Everyone has heard of Boadicea, Queen of the Iceni, who rode
to battle in a chariot against the Romans. But that’s not quite right. Prior
to a transcribing error in a medieval manuscript, her name was Boudica.
And she was probably never Queen.
She was married however. Her husband, Prasutagus, was king of the
Iceni tribe in East Anglia until his death in AD 60. It is his name that is
on the few surviving coins of the period.
Prasutagus was a friend of Rome – probably a Roman Citizen and it’s
possible that he visited Rome, perhaps taking his wife. He was rich and
prosperous, perhaps adding Roman loans or bribes to his wealth from
the tribe. He was what is known as a Client King, some might say a puppet ruler.
Even after death he tried to keep things friendly with Rome, dividing his estate between
his two daughters and the Emperor Nero. But the Romans were greedy. According to
Roman historian Tacitus, they seized tribal lands, flogged Boudica and raped her daughters.
Boudica could stand it no longer and led the Iceni and neighbouring tribes in a revolt that
culminated in the sacking of Colchester, St Albans and London, before their final defeat
in battle with the Roman legions.