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.
The Celts - one of the world's most mysterious ancient people. In Britain and Ireland, we are never far from our Celtic past but in this series Prof. Alice Roberts and archaeologist Neil Oliver travel much further afield, discovering the origins and beliefs of these Iron Age people in artefacts and human remains right across Europe, from Turkey to Portugal. What emerges is not a wild people on the western fringes of Europe, but a highly sophisticated tribal culture that influenced vast areas of the ancient world - and even Rome". Rich with vivid drama reconstruction, we recreate this pivotal time and meet some of our most famous ancient leaders - from Queen Boudicca to Julius Caesar - and relive the battles they fought for the heart and soul of Europe. Alice and Neil discover that these key battles between the Celts and the Romans over the best part of 500 years constituted a fight for two very different forms of civilisation - a fight that came to define the world we live in today. In the first episode, we see the origins of the Celts in the Alps of central Europe and relive the moment of first contact with the Romans in a pitched battle just north of Rome - a battle that the Celts won and that left the imperial city devastated.
Category:History Duration:59:00 Series: The Celts: Blood, Iron, and Sacrifice
Between 1850 and 1950, three cataclysmic revolutions shook China to the core, but out of them, today's China emerged. The film begins in Canton with the meeting of a US missionary and a Chinese student. Inspired by the Christian story and calling himself God's second son, Hong unleashed the bloodiest war of the 19th century, the Taiping Rebellion. As imperial China weakened, foreign influence grew. Treaty ports expanded, bringing growth and wealth, trams, railways and western sensibilities. But this provoked another surge of violence, the Boxer Rebellion, an attack against the foreigners, which was crushed by those same foreigners, who extorted a huge indemnity - $60 billion in today's money. Then in 1912, the empire fell, and many groups contested China's future. In World War I, China sent 100,000 men to the western front, only to be humiliated at Versailles when German colonies in China were handed to Japan. Between the two world wars, the disparity between rich and poor, city and countryside increased. We visit Hong Kong's Peninsular Hotel in the jazz age and then follow Mao on the Long March to Yan'an, the heartland of revolution. World War II came to China two years earlier than it did in the west. Wood talks to a survivor of the Japanese massacre of Nanjing in 1937 and then charts the triumph of the communists, before ending the story with Mao's death and the boom time of the last 30 years. The series ends with the warmth of the Chinese family and, at Beijing's Altar of Heaven, a final haunting glimpse of eternal China.
Category:History Duration:59:00 Series: The Story of China
Of all the wonders of the human body, there's one more mysterious than any other. Blood: five precious litres that keep us alive. Yet how much do we really know about this sticky red substance and its mysterious, life-giving force? Michael Mosley gives up a fifth of his own blood to perform six bold experiments". From starving it of oxygen to injecting it with snake venom, Michael reveals the extraordinary abilities of blood to adapt and keep us alive. Using specialist photography, the programme reveals the beauty in a single drop. Michael even discovers how it tastes when, in a television first, he prepares a black pudding with his own blood. Down the ages, our understanding of blood has been as much myth as science, but Michael reveals there might be truth in the old vampire legends, as he meets one of the scientists behind the latest research that shows young blood might be able to reverse the ageing process - the holy grail of modern medicine.
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