SN 2 | EP 7 | Curse of the Catacombs
Deep beneath the streets of Rome, there's an amazing underground world: a labyrinth of tunnels and vaults more than 360 miles long. This vast, subterranean cemetery was created by ancient Romans nearly 2,000 years ago. But just recently, a previously undiscovered catacomb containing thousands of human skeletons was unearthed. The bodies were wrapped in elaborate plaster and cloth shrouds, liberally sprinkled with amber; this is a burial ritual never seen before in ancient Rome. Now, a team of experts are on a mission to unlock the skeletons' secrets, and using DNA mapping and the very latest archaeological methods, they might solve the mystery of who these people were and how they died. What they find is shocking: waves of mass death occurring from the late 1st century AD to the early 3rd century AD. The remains of a fresco suggest they could be Christian martyrs, but the bones reveal no sign of physical trauma. Did they die from infection? An expert in reconstructing ancient DNA joins the team to see if he can confirm what killed them. What he concludes: they could have been killed by the Antonine Plague, an apocalyptic epidemic that devastated the Roman Empire.
Available: Science GO
Documentary, Science, History