Episode 1 The Ice Maiden – As the solid block of ice began to melt, the team of archaeologists gazed on the body of a young woman buried more than 2,500 years before. Lying around the Ice Maiden’s ceremonial tomb, were six of her horses especially sacrificed for the occasion. The Ice Maiden had been laid to rest in the “Pastures of Heaven” high in the Altai mountains of Siberia. Water had entered the grave and frozen preserving the contents. For nearly twenty five centuries she remained at peace, until Russian archaeologist Natalia Polosmak discovered the tomb in 1993. Now the preserved body, her clothes and her belongings were about to open a window on the lost culture of the Pazyryk, the tribe she belonged to, fierce nomads who once roamed the Russian Steppes.
Episode 2 A Life in Ice – In 1991, two Germans on a hiking holiday in the Alps stumbled on what they thought was the victim of a climbing accident: a frozen body poking through the glacial snow. In fact, the body turned out to be that of a Neolithic farmer, a European contemporary of the builders of the first Egyptian pyramids. And the Iceman has turned out to be one of the most important archaeological finds of the century. This documentary tells the story of how, in the last five years, research groups from across Europe have used him to shine a light on a time of archaeological darkness. They have investigated everything from his fingernails to his hair, from moss on his clothes to pollen grains in his cloak. He has even started new areas of research where there was nothing before. Perhaps most significant of all, to archaeologists, is that he was not buried, no ceremony decided what artifacts he would be found with. Instead, it is now clear he was a man going about his everyday business, equipped with all he needed for daily life 5,000 years ago.
Episode 3 Frozen in Heaven – When the Spanish Conquistadors first conquered the Inca empire five hundred years ago, they wrote of the mysterious ceremony of capa cocha. Parents, they claimed, would voluntarily offer their children to their Inca priests, sending them to the top of the highest peaks for sacrifice to mountain gods. In the past, historians have dismissed this as fanciful European exaggeration. But then archaeologists began to find the children’s bodies. Perfectly preserved, with his head resting on his knees, the Plomo boy now crouches in a Santiago freezer. He was found at twenty thousand feet, high in the Andes, fully dressed in ceremonial clothes and surrounded by a wealth of gold and silver offerings. He is so well preserved that he seems to have simply fallen asleep. The frostbite on his fingers suggests that he died of exposure, but the rough soles of his feet speak of a hard journey up the mountain to his death. Two other preserved bodies have been discovered since, and scientists are now finding clues as to how they died, and the manner of the sacrifice.