Ancient Discoveries

Ancient Discoveries

Exploring the remarkably advanced technology of the ancient world, focusing on how modern discoveries owe much to the scientists, inventors and crackpots of generations long gone.
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Episode Guide

  • Ancient Discoveries - Secret Science of the Occult (Season 6 Episode 13)
    Season 6 Episode 13:

    Secret Science of the Occult

    Explorers use a sacred ancient Mayan temple code to search for an occult underworld engineered in Mexico; investigators in Britain discover the secret technology behind a life-size statue of Jesus Christ that came to life.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Rituals of Death (Season 6 Episode 12)
    Season 6 Episode 12:

    Rituals of Death

    The mummified crocodiles of Kom Ombo; using an X-ray on an ancient mummy; China's terra-cotta army; scientists solve a year-old murder using 15th-century forensics; virtual-reality techniques afford investigation of crucifixion.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Mega Ocean Conquest (Season 6 Episode 11)
    Season 6 Episode 11:

    Mega Ocean Conquest

    A team of divers builds and tests a deep-sea diving suit; a time-traveling ghost ship; 16th-century war fleet.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Record Breakers (Season 6 Episode 10)
    Season 6 Episode 10:

    Ancient Record Breakers

    Building a replica of a 2000-year-old jet engine; a weapon that can shoot around corners; a gun that is made from fruit; beating the ancient world's land-speed record.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Twisted Weapons of the East (Season 6 Episode 9)
    Season 6 Episode 9:

    Twisted Weapons of the East

    Martial artists wield six-foot-long steel swords in India; camels as weapons of war; armor made from paper were designed to stop arrows; 2000-year-old unmanned weapon.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Special Forces (Season 6 Episode 8)
    Season 6 Episode 8:

    Ancient Special Forces

    Ancient Roman navy SEAL technique of capturing enemy ships from underwater; Roman war dog units; the Mastiff; the samurai sword; the Horro is designed to protect cavalryman from arrow fire.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Commandos (Season 6 Episode 7)
    Season 6 Episode 7:

    Ancient Commandos

    Ski commandos battle through storms and snow drifts; a tiny army in the Egyptian desert defeats a major invasion force; the Bayeux tapestry; the Naftun.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Riots and Revolutions (Season 6 Episode 6)
    Season 6 Episode 6:

    Riots and Revolutions

    A secret manual explains how the Vietnamese defeated the United States in the 20th century and the Mongols 700 years earlier; King Mithridates; the invention of booby-traps and letter bombs; Spartacus revolts against the Roman Empire.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Gruesome Medicine (Season 6 Episode 5)
    Season 6 Episode 5:

    Gruesome Medicine

    Leeches, an ancient medical cure; taking a reading from a torpedo fish in Spain; Incan trepanning; Roman battlefield surgery; using snake venom as medicine; England's Prince Henry V undergoes brain surgery to extract an arrow.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Secret Agents (Season 6 Episode 4)
    Season 6 Episode 4:

    Ancient Secret Agents

    Ancient secret agents; fire beacons, horses and pigeons are used to transmit messages over thousands of miles; ancient spies use invisible ink made from human sperm and write messages inside raw eggs; Japanese ninjas use explosives.

  • Ancient Discoveries - The Ancient Mega-Fort (Season 6 Episode 3)
    Season 6 Episode 3:

    The Ancient Mega-Fort

    Investigating history's most impregnable fortresses; the castle that helped create Great Britain; Cappadocia's invisible underground defensive systems; Mayan killer bee castle defenses; the Roman siege of Alesia in Gaul.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Guns 'N Ammo (Season 6 Episode 2)
    Season 6 Episode 2:

    Guns 'N Ammo

    Ancient prototypes of the modern gun; an ancient manuscript has a recipe for tracer fire; mega-mortar; the bizarre "wind of the cannonball" phenomenon.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Airborne Assault (Season 6 Episode 1)
    Season 6 Episode 1:

    Airborne Assault

    Early methods of airborne attack; medieval kite bomb; bouncing bombs terrorize shipping in Turkey in 1453; Chinese commanders use whistling arrows to direct battles; Chinese rockets; the earliest known successful parachute.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Lost Science of the Bible (Season 5 Episode 7)
    Season 5 Episode 7:

    Lost Science of the Bible

    Investigating Bible stories to find if they have basis in scientific fact; determining Goliath's size and considering the technology of the sling David used to fell him; Tower of Babel; levitating a replica of the Ark of the Covenant.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Impossible Army Machines (Season 5 Episode 6)
    Season 5 Episode 6:

    Impossible Army Machines

    The amazing successes and stunning failures of ancient military engineers influence today's weapons and tactics; an ancient Greek weapon is still used on aircraft carriers; rapid-firing Chinese catapult; Hannibal crosses the Alps.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Mining Machines (Season 5 Episode 5)
    Season 5 Episode 5:

    Ancient Mining Machines

    Unique technologies of ancient miners, including a Roman hydraulic system, sappers who could undermine castle walls and the 1689 origination of gunpowder mining in England.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Torture Tech (Season 5 Episode 4)
    Season 5 Episode 4:

    Ancient Torture Tech

    Revealing the terrifying truth behind torture; ancient inventors go to great lengths to develop precision devices to exact pain; the rack; burning at the stake; Vlad the Impaler.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Tank Tech (Season 5 Episode 3)
    Season 5 Episode 3:

    Ancient Tank Tech

    Asian battle elephants and Europe's medieval knights in armor demonstrate people in the past understood the modern tank's principles combining protection, speed and firepower; ancient antitank weapon.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Impossible Naval Engineering (Season 5 Episode 2)
    Season 5 Episode 2:

    Impossible Naval Engineering

    Citizens of ancient Tyre use fire ships against Alexander the Great's besieging fleet; Roman Emperor Nero builds a death yacht to kill his own mother; a 15th-century weapon designed to pierce enemy hulls; ancient paddle-wheel boat.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Death Weapons of the East (Season 5 Episode 1)
    Season 5 Episode 1:

    Death Weapons of the East

    Comparison test between a shotgun and a staff, the oldest known weapon; the deadly Chinese "ermei" underwater attack weapon; examining whether Chi warriors can really kill a man with a single touch; ancient Chinese crossbows.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient New York (Season 4 Episode 6)
    Season 4 Episode 6:

    Ancient New York

    New discoveries unveil the ancient blueprint for modern life in the metropolis of New York.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Chinese Super Ships (Season 4 Episode 5)
    Season 4 Episode 5:

    Ancient Chinese Super Ships

    China's master shipbuilders create some of the most powerful warships and greatest fleets of the ancient world.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Death Machines (Season 4 Episode 4)
    Season 4 Episode 4:

    Ancient Death Machines

    Many of today's lethal military weapons owe their origins to inventors of the ancient world who created siege machines, land mines, flamethrowers and more.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Super Ballistics (Season 4 Episode 3)
    Season 4 Episode 3:

    Ancient Super Ballistics

    Modern forensic techniques help firearms experts reveal the accuracy, power and range of ancient bullets, rockets and bombs.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Super Navies (Season 4 Episode 2)
    Season 4 Episode 2:

    Ancient Super Navies

    Experts investigate antiquity's legendary naval inventions, including high-explosive grenades, covert underwater attack equipment and biological warfare.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Mega Structures of the Deep (Season 4 Episode 1)
    Season 4 Episode 1:

    Mega Structures of the Deep

    Cutting-edge technology reveals exciting archaeological discoveries at the bottom of the ocean.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Machines of the East (Season 3 Episode 10)
    Season 3 Episode 10:

    Machines of the East

    Mesopotamian engineer Al-Jazari invents many devices.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Robots (Season 3 Episode 9)
    Season 3 Episode 9:


    The robotic inventions found in the mythical texts and how they compare with machines known in the ancient world.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Machines III (Season 3 Episode 8)
    Season 3 Episode 8:

    Machines III

    Chinese technology such as cosmic machines, hydraulic hammers, water-controlled clocks and mass production plants powered by water.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Chinese Warfare (Season 3 Episode 7)
    Season 3 Episode 7:

    Chinese Warfare

    Exploring how modern military innovations stem from ancient Chinese inventions like gunpowder and automated crossbows.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Egyptian Warfare (Season 3 Episode 6)
    Season 3 Episode 6:

    Egyptian Warfare

    The weapons and wars of ancient Egypt.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Mega Machines (Season 3 Episode 5)
    Season 3 Episode 5:

    Mega Machines

    A discovery spotlights two limestone coffins that date back 3000 years.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Superships (Season 3 Episode 4)
    Season 3 Episode 4:


    Ships from the ancient world and the societies that created them.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Machines of the Gods (Season 3 Episode 3)
    Season 3 Episode 3:

    Machines of the Gods

    The mix of religion and science.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Cars & Planes (Season 3 Episode 2)
    Season 3 Episode 2:

    Cars & Planes

    The team tries to figure out how successfully ancient peoples traveled overland.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Siege of Troy (Season 3 Episode 1)
    Season 3 Episode 1:

    Siege of Troy

    Analyzing a site in Turkey, believed to be the location of Troy, through modern technology, archeology and engineering.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Machines II (Season 2 Episode 3)
    Season 2 Episode 3:

    Machines II

    Greek genius Archimedes used reflected sunlight to set fire to Roman warships besieging Syracuse in 214 B.C..

  • Ancient Discoveries - Warfare (Season 2 Episode 2)
    Season 2 Episode 2:


    Warfare was a way of life in the ancient world. From an early version of napalm to the most sophisticated siege machine in history, the conflicts were just as lethal as today.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ships (Season 2 Episode 1)
    Season 2 Episode 1:


    The Nemi ships, the titans of Rome's naval engineering, were raised from the deep by Mussolini but then destroyed by a retreating German army.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Heron of Alexandria (Season 1 Episode 3)
    Season 1 Episode 3:

    Heron of Alexandria

    Heron of Alexandria was considered the most brilliant inventor in the ancient world, developing automatic doors and coin-operated machines.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Galen, Doctor to the Gladiators (Season 1 Episode 2)
    Season 1 Episode 2:

    Galen, Doctor to the Gladiators

    Galen, a Roman doctor who treated gladiators, performed brain surgery 2,000 years ago; examining the sophistication of ancient Roman medicine.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Ancient Computer? (Season 1 Episode 1)
    Season 1 Episode 1:

    Ancient Computer?

    About 1900, sponge divers find the Antikythera mechanism on a shipwreck deep in the Aegean Sea, and archaeologists date the analog computer to 87 B.C.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Japan's Mysterious Pyramids (Episode 11)
    Episode 11:

    Japan's Mysterious Pyramids

    Some scientists believe a highly advanced civilization flourished during the last Ice Age.

  • Ancient Discoveries - Medicine (Episode 3)
    Episode 3:


    The work of ancient physicians.

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