In the days of the Mayas, cenotes – deep, natural pits on the Yucatan peninsula - provided the only means of obtaining drinking water. But in the mythology of this advanced civilisation, these waterholes and caves were also the entrance to Xibalba – the underworld. All deceased were obliged to pass through Xibalba and wait there until they were called into heaven. It was a place in which one made sacrifices to the gods – objects of daily life, as well as bloody, human sacrifices. To this day, the relics of these acts are still in place preserved underwater for more than a thousand years. The entrance to the underworld begins at a dirty waterhole in the middle of the Mexican jungle overgrown and barely recognisable. But immediately after entry, a hall of breath-taking dimensions and beauty is revealed. As if they were sculptures, stalactites and stalagmites lend the underwater cave an almost sacred ambience. By now, one has succumbed to the fascination emanated by the world’s largest underwater cave system. We accompany four professional research divers to Yucatan – a team of specialists, able to squeeze their bodies through crevices and holes, barely larger than their bodies and who master dives that would push even the most experienced divers to their limits. With them, we penetrate worlds only a few people have ever ventured into. We encounter the remains of human victims, prehistoric fireplaces and primeval animal skeletons and undertake a dive, which takes us from the primeval forest to the open sea. We then enter Xibalba – the place of myths and the dead. In the days of the Mayas - a voyage of no return. Today, this is one of the greatest challenges one can face as a diver – the hidden world of the underwater caves of Yucatan – all filmed in 3D.
40,000 years ago the steppes of Eurasia were home to our closest human relative, the Neanderthals. Recent genetic and archaeological discoveries have proven that they were not the dim-witted cave dwellers we long thought they were. In fact, they were cultured, technologically savvy and more like us than we ever imagined! So why did they disappear? We accompany scientists on an exciting search for an answer to this question and come to a startling conclusion... A climate change due to a cataclysmic event.
He was stalked, attacked and left to die alone. Murdered more than 5,000 years ago, Ötzi the Iceman is Europe’s oldest known natural mummy. Miraculously preserved in glacial ice, his remarkably intact remains continue to provide scientists, historians, and archeologists with ground-breaking discoveries about a crucial time in human history.
More than 2,000 years ago, the thriving city of Petra rose up in the bone-dry desert of what is now Jordan. An oasis of culture and abundance, the city was built by wealthy merchants whose camel caravans transported incense and spices from the Arabian Gulf. They carved spectacular temple-tombs into its soaring cliffs, raised a monumental Great Temple at its heart, and devised an ingenious system that channeled water to vineyards, bathhouses, fountains, and pools. But following a catastrophic earthquake and a slump in its desert trade routes, Petra's unique culture faded and was lost to most of the world for nearly a thousand years. Now, in a daring experiment, an archaeologist and sculptors team up to carve an iconic temple-tomb to find out how the ancient people of Petra built their city of stone. Meanwhile, scientists using remote sensors and hydraulic flumes uncover the vast city and its sophisticated water system. The race is on to discover how these nomads created this oasis of culture in one of the harshest climates on Earth.
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