Weekly Program Updates / Sign Up
Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case
Air date: 05/15/2013

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Wednesday, May 15, 10-11 pm ET on PBS

A tomb of 49,000 year-old Neanderthal bones discovered in El Sidron, a remote, mountainous region of Northern Spain, leads to a compelling investigation to solve a double mystery: How did this group of Neanderthals die? And, could the fate of this group help explain Neanderthal extinction?  Scientists examine the bones—buried over 65 feet below ground—and discover signs that tell a shocking story of how this group of six adults, three teenagers, two children and a baby may have met their death. Some bones have deep cuts, long bones are cracked and skulls crushed—distinct signs of cannibalism. Was it a result of ritual or hunger? Neanderthal experts are adamant that they were not bloodthirsty brutes. Will this investigation challenge their views? What happened here 49000 years ago will take us on a much bigger journey—from El Sidron to the other end of the Iberian Peninsula where scientists are excavating beneath the seas off Gibraltar in search of Neanderthal sites. Scientists working here had theories—but no proof—for why Neanderthals went extinct. El Sidron may change this.

Photos
For editorial use in North America only in conjunction with the direct publicity or promotion of SECRETS OF THE DEAD. No other rights are granted. All rights reserved. Downloading this image constitutes agreement to these terms.
Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Anthropologist John Hawks in the Natural History Museum of Vienna, Paleo-Anthropology Exhibition. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

El Sidrón cave. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

El Sidrón cave. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Ossuary gallery – location where the bones were found. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Dig in Ossuary gallery. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

A Neanderthals’ lower jaw. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

A Neanderthals’ skull. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Exact location of the Neanderthals’ lower jaw. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Laboratory study of the bones. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

First model of a Neanderthal based on genetic evidence. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Paleoanthropologist Antonio Rosas. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Neanderthal caves in Gibraltar. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Anthropologist John Hawks in the Natural History Museum of Vienna, Paleo-Anthropology Exhibition. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Anthropologist John Hawks in the Natural History Museum of Vienna, Paleo-Anthropology Exhibition. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Geneticist Carles Lalueza-Fox during the study of Neanderthaler-DNA. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Paleoanthropologist Antonio Rosas with Neanderthal skeleton at his institute in Madrid. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic

Secrets of the Dead: Caveman Cold Case

Neanderthal caves in Gibraltar. Photo Credit: © Terra Mater Factual Studios/Photographer Ruth Berry/Bernhard Popovic