26 x 30 minutes • Documentary Series • Produced in association with: VisionTV • Production year: 2006
EP 101 Delilah's People
Calling someone a Philistine is the ultimate insult – but archaeology turns the insult into a compliment. The Philistines were actually a highly cultured people who left behind a rich legacy. 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.
EP 102 Who Invented the Alphabet?
Everyone assumes the Greeks invented the alphabet, but what are its real origins? Archaeological finds tell us that it originated in Egypt where Hebrew slaves began the process of turning hieroglyphics into a series of symbols which convey sounds that can be used to form words. 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.
EP 103 Jerusalem & The Black Prince
It’s been an enduring mystery for two thousand years; what stopped the brutal Assyrian army from sacking Jerusalem in 701 BCE? The army was poised outside the walls of Jerusalem – imagine the US Army against the Saskatoon police force – but at the last moment, according to the Bible, “an angel of God” intervened and the Assyrians were defeated. Had they taken Jerusalem, the world we live in would be a very different place – Judaism would have died, and therefore, Christianity and Islam may never have evolved. 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. It’s a controversial, but very satisfying answer to the question – Who saved Jerusalem?
EP 104 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, with worms crawling from his flesh before he expired. On the one hand he was famous for impressive public works and architecture; on the other, for the Biblical slaughter of the firstborn sons of Israel and extraordinary cruelty including murdering his own family. Was he mad or sick, suffering from disease that affected his judgment? Modern science gives us clues about why he behaved the way he did and archaeology gives us a lasting picture of his fantastic accomplishments.
EP 105 and 106 Real or Fake? and Fame & Forgery
The antiquities market has always been plagued by fakes and forgeries. But current controversies over the James Ossuary and Jehoash Stone are plagued by politics, making a proper assessment of their authenticity nearly impossible. Can science actually prove what’s real and what’s fake – and how did it all get so political? The Royal Ontario Museum, where the Ossuary was shown, declared it genuine…others say no. This episode has exclusive footage of both the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Stone. Simcha meets with dissident archaeologists to discuss why the Israeli Antiquities Authority limits access to certain artifacts and whether they are prosecuting or persecuting collectors they suspect of forgery. 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.
EP 107 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.
EP 108 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.
EP 109 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?
EP 110 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.
EP 111 and 112 True Blue and Return of the Hillazon
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?
EP 113 The 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.
EP 114 Crucifixion
In ancient times, before the crucifixion, it was common practice to use this method of execution to deter others from opposing Roman rule. Public crucifixion in an open square was not an unusual event, and thousands of people’s lives ended, excruciatingly, on the cross. 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 – a foot with a nail through it – in an Israeli museum. A scientist takes us through the physical experience of crucifixion in his suburban garage as he straps our host to a cross and gives us an account of the physical affects on the body of a crucified man.
EP 115 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.
EP 116 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. The fight between Jezebel and Elijah led to a battle royale on Mount Carmel involving 450 priests, a couple thunderbolts, and a single unfortunate bull.
EP 117 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.
EP 118 Joshua
Joshua: One of the Bible's greatest generals. The Bible says he conquered Canaan, the land God promised the Israelites. From Joshua came Israel, from Israel Jesus, from Jesus, Christianity and much of the Western World. 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. The Naked Archaeologist takes the challenge, searching for Joshua through the stones, bones and miracles surrounding Joshua, the myth and the man.
EP 119 Masada
After the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD, 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. Archaeological evidence has proven the legend to be real. But the evidence seems to raise more questions than it can answer: questions such as, were there Jesus followers up there, too?
EP 120 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? Were they written by the Jewish sect known as Essenes? Or were they written by Proto-Christians? Or Roman Pottery workers? Forensic analysis of their ancient toilets may finally answer this question once and far all.
EP 121 and 122 Holy Hot Spot and Biblical Epicentre
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?
EP 123 The Mother of Archaeology
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 buried, where his tomb was and the route he walked through Jerusalem to be crucified, the same route that millions of pilgrims still walk today. Simcha visits some of the holiest Christian sites including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, believed to be the site of Christ’s tomb, to find out how accurate St. Helena was.
EP 124 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?
EP 125 and 126 Where is Mount Sinai? and The Real 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.
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