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.

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.