Monday, April 25, 2016

TV Recommendations: Shakespeare's Tomb & Vikings Unearthed

I don't pay as much attention to non-Sunday night PBS programming as I should - I love documentaries, so I don't know what my problem is - but recently two shows caught my eye and I'm very glad they did. They're both documentaries that combine traditional history and archaeology with new investigative methods made possible by SCIENCE!, and they're very well done.

Shakespeare's Tomb, hosted by the great Helen Castor, investigates, well, Shakespeare's tomb, and along with it the circumstances surrounding his death, his will, later rumors and myths about his skull, and more. They do some really incredible 3D scanning of a skull so that they can try to figure out whether it's Shakespeare's without disturbing the site where it was found, as well as tracing air pockets below the Shakespeare family's gravestones in the church floor to determine the configuration of their graves. You can watch it online here or check on demand or local listings - PBS varies a lot by local affiliate.

The second, Vikings Unearthed, was a BBC production aired as an episode of Nova, and it features historian Dan Snow, who you should be following on Twitter/Instagram, along with a bunch of other very interesting historians and archaeologists. They trace Viking expansion west, and specifically use satellite imaging to try to find undiscovered, buried Viking sites - including in North America. It's completely fascinating. Watch here or, again, check on demand or local listings for reruns.

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