The Jewish Revolt Against Rome The Siege of Masada


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This series explores famous battles focusing on the battlefield itselfand tell its story based on recent scientific research. It uses modern science to examine how the battles were won or lost. It approaches the perennially interesting topic of famous battles in a fresh and exhilarating way. Focusing on the battlefield itself, each programme takes an important battle telling its story and posing a puzzling central question about the battle that recent scientific research is helping to illuminate a contemporary journey of discovery and a compelling story from the past. Where soldiers die, history is made. Battlefield Detectives offers a remarkably fresh and exhilarating look at the most fascinating conflicts in history by focusing on the bloody ground where they were waged. This groundbreaking series definitively re-examines what we think we know about history’s great clashes. Battlefield Detectives redefines the military documentary by utilizing every possible technique demonstrations, reenactments, advanced forensic and historical analysis, and more to clarify battles from the legendary to the obscure.
Season 1
Episode 1 Custer at Little Bighorn – Native American eyewitness accounts tell a new story of the Battle of Little Bighorn of chaos and panic, no gallant last stand by Custer. Using the methods of crime scene investigation, forensic scientists are uncovering evidence of what really happened.
Episode 2 Charge of the Light Brigade – Researchers use satellite technology and archaeological finds to unearth the truth about Balaklava during the most celebrated battle of the Crimean War. How disastrous was the British cavalry charge and who were the actual heroes in the defense?
Episode 3 The Gallipoli Disaster – Historians shows how bad maps and worse intelligence produced the catastrophe of Gallipoli in 1915, and geologists reveal how terrain won the battle for the Turks and lost it for the Allies.
Episode 4 What Sank the Armada? – The sinking of the Spanish Armada in the summer of 1588 has been attributed to English heroism, Spanish incompetence, and bad weather. Now archaeologists are working with oceanographers, meteorologists, and ship design experts to uncover the real reasons.
Episode 5 Who Got Lucky at Hastings? – An academic uses modern management theory to determine whether William was a better leader than Harold at Hastings in 1066. Meanwhile, an equestrian historian assesses the behavior of horses in battle, and computer experts create 3D maps of the Hastings.
Episode 6 Massacre at Waterloo – What went wrong for the French at Waterloo? Experts re-create the defensive ridge where Wellington stationed the allied troops, assess the impact of the weather conditions on Napoleon’s artillery, and consider the psychological state of his commander?
Episode 7 Agincourt’s Dark Secrets – Medieval warfare specialists investigate how terrain affected the way the 15th century Battle of Agincourt was waged, what the rare battlefield artifacts tell us, and just what happens when an English bodkin point meets French armor.
Episode 8 Trafalgar’s Fatal Flaw – New research shows that the 1805 Battle of Trafalgar was anything but inevitable. Far from executing a carefully developed plan, Nelson sailed straight at the enemy broadsides based on little more planning than a quick tactical sketch.
Episode 9 Vietnam Bloody Secret – Veterans from both sides explain how modern weaponry and huge budgets failed to overcome the morale and ingenuity of the communist forces. Experts show how America never really understood who it was fighting, what motivated them, or what methods they used.
Season 3
Episode 1 Battle of the Bulge – WWII hung in the balance in December of 1944. By all rights, the Nazi’s bold, shocking Ardennes Offensive should have routed the Allied forces hunkered down in the cold Belgian countryside. But, while the front certainly bulged during the two months of terrible fighting, it never collapsed. Battlefield Detectives investigates the horrific Battle of the Bulge and discovers why the German Army failed and the world escaped its unending tyranny.
Episode 2 Battle of Britain – Britain stands alone against the might of the advancing German armed forces. But before Hitler can put his planned invasion into effect, he needs to destroy Britain’s Royal Air Force. The Germans believe they are invincible. For four long months in the summer of 1940, the RAF and the German Luftwaffe fought an epic battle in the blue skies over the green fields of southeast England. For more than 60 years, the story of the battle has been the story of an unprepared nation winning against overwhelming odds a tale of heroism, of a handful of plucky pilots, of the battle winning Spitfire aircraft. In our investigation, scientists, historians, and veterans reveal that in fact Britain was far from unprepared. What were the secret systems and tactics that forced the Germans to withdraw from battle and that led them to postpone, and then cancel, their plans for invasion?
Episode 3 Waterloo – Take a fresh look at the battle that became synonymous with meeting your ultimate challenge and failing. Napoleon Bonaparte was the most brilliant leader of his age, intent on joining the pantheon of history’s s greatest conquerors. With an enormous coalition force massed against him, Napoleon had one last shot at establishing an everlasting Empire, and his enemies had a single long shot of ceasing his relentless march across Europe. At the Battle of Waterloo a quarter of a million men fought one of the most intense, bitter clashes in history. As many as fifty thousand men and ten thousand horses were brutally killed on the battlefield. By the end of the battle the Duke of Wellington had achieved the unthinkable the defeat of the legendary Emperor of France.
Episode 4 Siege of Masada – The Roman siege of Masada in 70 A.D is recreated to separate fact from myth. The length and difficulty of the siege, which group of Jews were involved and whether they committed mass suicide are especially questioned.
Episode 5 American Revolutionary War Battle of Oriskany – The Battle of Oriskany was a massacre. Four hundred Patriot militiamen out of a force of eight hundred died for the loss of less than eighty Loyalists, making it the bloodiest battle of the Revolutionary War. Most surprisingly, the ambushers were mainly warriors of the Seneca and Mohawk nations fighting with the British and armed with tomahawks, knives and war clubs. In this revealing episode, Battlefield Detectives analyzes the evidence, dramatically re-enacts the engagement, and discovers what made the battle so bloody and why so many militiamen had to die. Scholars and historians explain the little known story of American Indian involvement in the Revolutionary War.
Episode 6 World War I Jutland – May 1916. The British Grand Fleet, unchallenged since the Battle of Trafalgar, is moored in the peaceful harbor of Scapa Flow off the north coast of Scotland. The global dominance of the British Royal Navy is seemingly assured. But this is all about to change. The Battle of Jutland between Britain and Germany was the largest naval action of all time. It was a confrontation that the British wanted. An opportunity to unleash their lethal super weapons of the day the great ships they called Dreadnoughts and to prove that Britain did still rule the waves. Yet, in the cold grey waters of northern Europe, the showdown ended in carnage on a scale few could have imagined. Today, the ships with their vast gun turrets and thousands of shells still litter the seabed. Now, using the latest modern science, we try to determine what went wrong. Why was Jutland so disastrous for the British Royal Navy? And could it be, that in losing the battle, they won the naval war?
Episode 7 Stalingrad – By late 1942, the Germans had invaded deep into the Russian interior, their objective the vast oilfields of the Caucasus. The last obstacle that remained in their way was the city of Stalingrad. But far from being the final step in the conquest of the USSR, Stalingrad proved a bloodbath. After a terrible battle lasting “200 days”it became the first major defeat for Hitler during WWII. Half a million Germans died there. Perhaps three times as many Russians lost their lives. The German Army was modern, well-trained and well-led, with state of the art military equipment, high morale and a string of victories behind it. By comparison the Red Army was inexperienced, old-fashioned, and ill-equipped. So how did the Russians win? Legend goes that it was “General Winter” who defeated the German Army but forensic analysis and historical research show that coping with freezing weather was not the only ace in the Russians’ pack.
Episode 8 The War of 1812 The Chesapeake and the Shannon – In this dramatic clash of titans the “kill rate” of ten men per minute far eclipsed the death toll of any previous naval battle. The War of 1812 marked the transition to a more technological era of greater killing efficiency the Modern Age of War. In this context American “super frigates” had been soundly drubbing British warshipsand the captain of the USS Chesapeake, James Lawrence, had every reason to think an encounter with HMS Shannon would prove no exception.But in the evening of June 1,1813, eleven minutes of carnage left 103 men dead and the American captain for whom a victory feast awaited in Boston, mortally wounded. The Chesapeake was captured, the British victorious. Why was the battle between Shannon and Chesapeake so ferocious and bloody? How did the British win such a crushing victory against the odds? Battlefield Detectives brings together scientists and historians to solve this compelling mystery.
Episode 9 Pointe du Hoc – Dawn, June 6, 1944. The largest invasion in history is underway. Four miles to the west of the Allied landings at Omaha Beach, a flotilla of landing craft head towards Hitler’s “Atlantic Wall” defenses. They are carrying just 200 men of a newly trained elite force the United States Rangers. Their objective is the vital German coastal defense gun battery on a headland known as the Pointe du Hoc. Climbing the ninety foot cliffs under a storm of German bullets and grenadesthe Rangers find that the German guns are not where they should be. What follows is a desperate game of cat and mouse, as the Rangers attempt to hunt down the guns. The story of their mission is remembered now as one of the most extraordinary aspects of the D-Day landings.
Episode 10 The 6-Day War – At 7:45 a.m. on June 5 1967 Israel launched the most successful preemptive air strike in military history. Within a few hours virtually the entire Egyptian Air Force lay in smoldering wreckage. Fighting on three fronts against the combined might of five different armies Israel secured a stunning victory in a mere six days. How did this tiny state manage to overcome an Arab enemy that had twice as many soldiers three times as many tanks and four times as many airplanes? With firsthand testimony from combatants and military planners plus access to key figures in the intelligence world we gain insight into the meticulous preparations that the Israeli military undertook in the 1960s. Field testing of key Israeli weapons and analysis of battlefield strategy on both sides show how this extraordinary victory was achieved.
Episode 11 Civil War Shiloh – Before dawn on Sunday, April 6,1862, shots rang out near Shiloh, on the west bank of the Tennessee River. A Confederate army had launched a surprise attack on their unsuspecting Union enemy. The Confederates had chosen the battlefield and the moment to attack. And they achieved almost total strategic and tactical surprise. Twelve hours later they seemed to be in a commanding position but on the next day they withdrew in disarray. For nearly 150 years, Confederate failure has been blamed on the fact that they lost valuable time at a place called the Hornet’s Nest where a detachment of Union soldiers held the line. But now forensic history is uncovering a very different story of why things went so badly for the Confederates at the Battle of Shiloh.
Episode 12 Alesia – In the late summer of 52 BC, Julius Caesar, Rome’s most brilliant general was pitted against the great Gallic chieftain Vercingetorix. Fifty thousand Roman soldiers came face to face against a quarter of a million Gallic warrior the Gauls. For the first time, at a small hilltop called Alesia in what is now central France, all Caesar’s enemies were gathered in one place. And Caesar won. Yet for 2,000 years there’s been only one explanation for his victory his own. Does evidence from the battlefield correspond with this account? The battle that day shaped the map of modern Europe. How did Caesar do it? Recent archaeological discoveries, systematic analysis of Roman warfare, and extraordinary photographic evidence reveal the secrets of Caesar’s success.
Episode 13 Battle of Big Hole – With the slaughter of Custer’s forces fresh in their memory, the US 7th Infantry undertook the eviction of Nez Perce Indians in southwest Montana with a mix of vengefulness and fearful caution. Respecting their foe’s deadliness, the detachment carefully planned an aggressive campaign, its brutal intensity meant to overwhelm and avoid a repeat of Custer’s fate. The early-morning sneak attack began according to plan, but by day’s end the 196-strong force was under siege, pinned down by a small group of warriors in a clump of trees. How did the Infantry fail despite knowing the Indians’ fearsome potential? What became of their aborted mission? Using the latest detailed forensic research, Battlefield Detectives reveals why things nearly ended in disaster for the Army at the Battle of Big Hole.