Professor’s Himalayan Archaeological Finds Documented on ‘NOVA’

January 3, 2017

Join UC Merced Professor Mark Aldenderfer as he and his colleagues explore the world’s highest cave tombs, revealing new details about the lives of the people who settled the Himalaya, in the season premiere of “NOVA” on PBS.

In “Secrets of the Sky Tombs,” archaeologist Aldenderfer and fellow researchers from around the globe step back in time to learn more about the people who buried their dead in these hard-to-reach rock-cut caves.

The burial chambers are filled with human and animal remains and enigmatic artifacts, including gold masks and Chinese silk dating back thousands of years.

Secrets of the Sky Tombs” includes interviews with Aldenderfer and researchers who study ancient DNA, human genetics, ancient textiles and metals, and Tibetan history and culture.

Some of the filming took place in these scientists’ labs and shows how we wove the evidence together to tell a story about the past,” Aldenderfer said.

Each discovery of evidence helps piece together a broader picture of how the ancient settlers lived and died, including rituals designed to ward off restless spirits of the dead.

Secrets of the Sky Tombs” is the first episode of new season of “NOVA,” and airs at 9 p.m. Jan. 4 on PBS.

Aldenderfer has spent years researching the high-elevation occupants of the towering Himalaya, among the last places on Earth that humans settled. He and his colleagues seek to understand how people migrated into the area, adapted to survive the high altitude and how they lived.

Watch the preview here: