Season 1 2005
Episode 1 Delilah’s People – Calling someone a Philistine is the ultimate insult – but archaeology turns the insult into a compliment. We examine the tribe of Delilah and Goliath, their fertility cults, a temple like the one Samson may have destroyed with his bare hands, see some surprising artifacts and get the scoop on who the Philistines really were.
Episode 2 Who Invented the Alphabet? – Everyone assumes the Greeks invented the alphabet, but what are its real origins? From desert caves to urban graffiti, we trace the origins and evolution of simple shapes that democratized communication as it spread through the ancient world.
Episode 3 Jerusalem and The Black Prince – It’s been an enduring mystery for two thousand years, what stopped the brutal Assyrian army from sacking Jerusalem in 701 B.C.? Scholars around the world have puzzled over this mystery for hundreds of years, but now, a Canadian journalist, Henry Aubin, thinks he has the answer. He asserts that an Egyptian army saved the day, lead by a black Nubian Pharaoh.
Episode 4 What Killed Herod? – One of the most brutal and brilliant leaders of ancient times, the first century King left a disconcerting legacy. And, he died the most gruesome and mysterious death. He was famous for impressive public works and architecture; and, for the Biblical slaughter of the firstborn sons of Israel and extraordinary cruelty including murdering his own family.
Episode 5 Real or Fake? – The antiquities market has always been plagued by fakes and forgeries. We also discover an early and sensational fake, the fabrication of an entire culture complete with artifacts that made their way into some of the world’s greatest museums.
Episode 6 Fame and Forgery? – Continued discussion of Episode 5 topic.
Episode 7 Accidental Archaeology – In North America it would be pretty unusual to have a bulldozer hit anything besides a hidden gas line or cable … but in Israel the cumbersome building tool often unearths ancient treasure. While digging a foundation for a new home, it’s not uncommon to find the remains of an ancient city. We explore the four level basement of a Jerusalem home and find relics that are two thousand years old.
Episode 8 Biblical Food – The Bible is full of references to the kinds of food ancients ate – but there are no recipes. Simcha learns what archaeology tells us about what people ate in ancient times; shops in Jerusalem for ingredients noted in the Bible and attempt to cook a meal fit for a king.
Episode 9 Jesus The Early Years – The Gospels sometimes contradict each other in their descriptions of Jesus’ early years and not much is known about how he spent his childhood. Now archaeology can help uncover some clues about his early influences and even his birth. Could the manger where Jesus was born be in a different Bethlehem?
Episode 10 John the Baptist – New archaeology has revealed what may be the cave where St. John baptized new converts to Christianity. Simcha checks out the cave and learns more about this major Christian saint. He also discovers why, in the Church of St. John the Baptist, there is a painting by a Canadian artist complete with beavers carved on the frame.
Episode 11 True Blue – Why is a debate about a colour so intensely important to some Orthodox Jews? How did the recipe for the true Royal Blue become lost? What is the Hillazon – part fish, part snake with legs coming from its head – the mysterious creature described in the Bible as the source for the dye? Does archaeology have the answer?
Episode 12 Return of the Hilazon – Continued discussion of Episode 11 topic.
Episode 13 Last Man Standing – The first century historian, Flavius Josephus, is the most frequently quoted scholar when it comes to the history of Jesus’ time. His vivid descriptions of historic events give us a clear picture of Roman times. But is it an accurate picture? Is there archaeological proof? We get a profile of the controversial historian.
Episode 14 Crucifixion – In ancient times, before the crucifixion, it was common practice to use this method of execution to deter others from opposing Roman rule. Despite the fact that so many were crucified, little physical evidence of it remains. We investigate why there is so little archaeological proof and visit the only known artifact in an Israeli museum.
Episode 15 King David – The Bible paints a picture of King David as a mighty hero – capable of slaying giants, conquering enemies, and starting the messianic line that leads to Jesus. But for decades archaeologists have been struggling to find evidence of David’s mighty kingdom. Now the archaeological remains of three sets of gates in three ancient cities might just hold the key to verifying David’s story.
Episode 16 Jezebel Bible Bad Girl – How did this Phoenician princess become one of the Bible’s best, or worst, femme fatales? Jezebel married Israelite King Ahab. But the Israelites new queen didn’t move into the bridal chamber alone. She brought the pagan god Baal and 450 of his priests into the heart of the Israelites Holy Land. The prophet Elijah was not pleased.
Episode 17 The Oldest Leper – Ancients suffered from hundreds of ailments, some of which still plague us today. Leprosy is mentioned in the Bible frequently, and now archaeology has uncovered what may be the bones of the oldest leper. Scientists studying those bones can now tell us more about the disease than we may ever want to know.
Episode 18 Joshua – Joshua: One of the Bible’s greatest generals. The Bible says he conquered Canaan, the land God promised the Israelites. But did the Old Testament’s fiercest warrior even exist? It’s hard to find traces of Joshua. After all, he didn’t build temples or cities to leave behind. He knocked them over, or burnt them, or put them to the sword.
Episode 19 Masada – After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D., legend has it that a group of about 1,000 politicized Jews made a legendary last stand on the Herodian palace in the desert, Masada. Besieged by the famous 10th Legion, they committed suicide rather than be taken into slavery by Rome.
Episode 20 Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls? – In the 1950s a Bedouin shepherd’s sheep stumbled upon some ancient scrolls in a cave on the shores of the Dead Sea. This accidental find would prove to be the greatest archaeological discovery of the twentieth century. Known as The Dead Sea Scrolls they are one thousand fragments of holy writings from the time of Jesus and the Second Temple Destruction. But who wrote these documents?
Episode 21 Holy Hot Spot – For Jews, Christians and Muslims the Temple Mount or Al-Haram al-Sharif, is one of the holiest places on the planet. These overlapping claims also make it one of the most dangerous flash points in the Middle East. Wrapped in myth, scripture and headlines, what does archaeology reveal about this holiest piece of the Holy Land?
Episode 22 Biblical Epicentre Temple Mount – Continued discussion of Episode 21 topic.
Episode 23 The Mother of Archaeology St. Helena – St. Helena was the mother of the Roman Emperor Constantine. She convinced him to establish Christianity as the official state religion in the 4th century. She was also the first Christian pilgrim. As a sprightly 70 year-old she traveled to the Holy Land and “discovered” where Christ’s cross was buriedwhere his tomb was and the route he walked through Jerusalem to be crucified.
Episode 24 Who Wrote the Bible? – The Bible is made up of dozens of books, but tradition has it that the first five books were dictated to Moses, by God. But could Moses have really written down the words that God spoke, including the Ten Commandments? The Bible says that millions of people witnessed this event – but what does archaeology say?
Episode 25 Where is Mount Sinai? – For thousands of years people have wondered which peak in the Sinai Peninsula is the legendary mountain where Moses is supposed to have received the 10 commandments. Our investigation demonstrates that the mountain where Popes and tourists trek on pilgrimage is not Mt. Sinai. Using the Bible and archaeology as guides, we identify the only mountain that fits all the Biblical criteria.
Episode 26 The Real Mount Sinai – Continued discussion of Episode 25 topic.