Why did the great airship Hindenburg explode? Why did Greenland's Vikings disappear? What happened to the peaceful ancient Pueblo civilization of the American southwest? Did a cataclysmic event plunge humankind into the period known as the early Dark Ages?
This boxed set from PBS Home Video presents four very different stories that have a common thread: They detail mysterious happenings that can now be explained thoroughly by clever investigators who diligently employ tools of modern science. The mystery behind a thriving colony of Vikings on the coast of Greenland, thousands of people who simply vanished sometime in the 1400s, is plausibly explained in a documentary in which archaeologists find tiny clues that tell a big story of a society's demise. In another documentary, a controversial theory about ancient people practicing cannibalism in what is now New Mexico is examined thoughtfully, as are the ethical implications of scientists advancing such damning claims. The fiery demise of the airship Hindenburg
, immortalized in famous newsreel footage, is seen, after some careful investigation, to have been caused by something few had ever before considered. And in a fascinating documentary that involves research into sources as diverse as ancient manuscripts and a rumbling volcano, the idea that the Earth was suddenly cooled by a bizarre and massive event about A.D. 530 is examined in great detail. Each separate tape is well produced and tackles a fascinating subject, and together they combine to provide a fascinating look at the scientific process. --Robert J. McNamara