Sphinx - Geheimnisse der Geschichte (TV Series 1994– ) Poster

Episode List


Unknown Season

22 Jan. 1997
Tauchfahrt zu Kleopatra
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17 Dec. 2000
Der Traum vom Taj Mahal
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8 Apr. 2001
Teufel auf der Seidenstrasse
The once immensely rich silk route, crucial to cultural and commercial East-West exchanges, was outdated by naval alternatives. It became the target of rival Western archaeologists in a colonial era race. It was looked down upon by the then weak, decadent empire as 'foreign devils' and thieves in such places as the Takla Makan desert of present Uiguristan, rich in caves. Prominent is the devotion of a stunning succession of imported religions, even Zoroastrism, Ancient Persia's dualism. Other sites testify to completely vanished outpost cities and even realms, such as...
5 Dec. 2002
Mordfall Kaspar Hauser
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1 Jan. 2003
Mythos Babylon
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2 May 2004
Kampf um Rom
Thousand years of glorious empire, rising from Tiber town to political center of the then known (mainly Mediterranean) world, and from republic to absolute monarchy, a formally republican constitution under Caesar's 'divine' heirs. An icon symbol of fittingly monumental size is the Colosseum, theater for bread and games at unprecedented scale and a type of 'microcosm' of the imperial centralism. The basis of Rome's world dominance was the superiority of its legions. One more plausible of countless contradictory theories about the fall of Rome was their decay, as power...
16 May 2004
Der Fall Karthagos
The story of master general Hannibal, born to lead Carthage in the epic last phase of the Punic Wars against arch-enemy Rome, a rising land empire of a different, territorial type unwilling to tolerate the Phoenician colony's commercial superiority annex coastal colonization along the Mare Nostrum. Hannibal excels in battles, but ultimately looses the war against Rome after laying siege to it only to be challenged in his own home territories.
12 Sep. 2004
Episode dated 12 September 2004
A century before Columbus and Magellan, Chinese emperor Zhou-Di's giant junk sailing fleet explored and could well have dominated the world seas, but was abandoned after his death for internal political reasons. Thus the scene was left to European explorers, whose rivaling princes and chartered companies started a race for control of the immensely rich trade in spices - later various other colonial produce, such as silk and tea, making them rich enough to dominate the world in other ways too. In the British case, they were rulers of no less than a fifth of the globe.
16 Jan. 2005
Kreuzzug in die Hölle - Die Tempelritter
The Templars arose as noble-born European crusader knights protecting the Holy Land and notably pilgrimage to it, but amassed major income (and power) from domestic estates, making their Grand master, who answering only to Rome, a prestigious Catholic prince. After the Muslim reconquest of the crusader state of Jerusalem, French king Philip IV's desired to finance his absolutism and eliminate a 'rival' state within the state. New findings prove even the French pope Clement V didn't believe allegations; in fact Philip's chancellor Nogaré organized the murder of the ...
11 Jun. 2006
Mit flammendem Schwert 1/2 - Kreuzritter vor Jerusalem
The unsettling true story of the First Crusade, an orgy of Christian fanaticism and violent opportunism, 1095-99. Byzantine emperor Alexios asked the pope for help in his desperate defense against the Sedjuk Turks, but instead of a knightly contingent got huge waves of only low-class desperadoes, committing plunder without military experience. He was relieved to set them on the road to Jerusalem through Asia Minor, at least they regained Nicaea for him, fought the Turkish Saracens and succeeding against odds to found crusader states for some of their noble generals, ...
18 Jun. 2006
Mit flammendem Schwert 2/2 - Kampf ums Heilige Land
The first Crusade continued, 'crowned' by the conquest of Jerusalem, drowned in another sea of blood, Jewish as well as Muslim. The crusader territories, the Jerusalem realm and its vassals (Antioch, Edessa and Tripolis) and the military orders (Templars and St.John's Hospitallers) are under 'guerilla' siege from Muslims. The Muslims themselves are internally divided by the Sunni-Shiah-schism and political divisions, until the ruthless Ayyubite usurper Saladdin re-united Egypt and Greater Syria. After the Second and Third Crusade, starring French viz. English kings ...
27 May 2007
Der Super-Wall - Chinas grosse Mauer 2
August 1793: Lord McCartneys British delegation on its way to the imperial capital Peking is amazed to discover the Great Wall, and by their Chinese escort's utter indifference about it. The present wall was build under the Ming dynasty. In 1541 the sinified Mongolian ruler Altan Khan who has established a capital in Chinese fashion asks to establish trade, but after the emperor has his delegation executed the nomads invade and devastate; a new commanding general was ordered to assure the empires northwestern defense by building a long wall along nine pre-existing ...
3 Jun. 2007
Tatort Ägypten - Der Fall Nofretete
In the 14th century BC, pharaoh Echnathon ruled with his mysterious, beautiful queen Nofretete from Amarna, his new capital build in the desert and abandoned immediately after his reign, like his new, monotheistic religion, which made the royal couple sole mediator with the gods, eliminating the mighty priesthood. Legends and monuments exalted her happiness and rise to unprecedented 'co-regentship', even in military success. She disappeared even during his reign, but how? Now archaeologists try to prove if hers is one of the clearly royal mummies found in Luxor's ...
9 Jun. 2007
Tatort Ägypten - Task Force Tutanchamun
The story of British egyptologist Howard Carter, who crowned fifteen years of tireless searching for the missing grave of child-pharaoh Tutanchamun, made possible by the mecenate of Lord Carnarvon, with the most fabulous find in the history of archeology, only to find that was only the start of further years of efforts against physical, legal and other obstacles. Interlaced are scenes from the present treasure hunt in the Valley of the Kings, both official and by grave robbers supplying the international smuggle trade.
17 Jun. 2007
Tatort Ägypten - Geheimnis der grossen Pyramide
The great pyramid of pharaoh Cheops at Gizeh, arguably the most perpetual human creation, certainly served the purpose of enabling the king eternal life among the stars, but how exactly? A robot which enters narrow shafts inside and in the underground labyrinth from the sphinx to the pyramid, possibly used as a scary dark initiation course, is used to investigate the literally hard facts. Outside, the search is for the tombs of the humbler builders of the most monumental royal tomb and their intricate life during decades of well-planned work, which prove too elaborate...
24 Jun. 2007
Versunkene Metropolen, Part 1 - Piramesse
Piramesse was Pharaoh Rames II the Great's new capital at the Nile, called 'house of the son of Ra', peopled by some 100,000 subjects and littered with glorious monuments, but quickly fell in total disuse after his over 60 year long reign, even its site was forgotten and covered by the moving Nile delta. In the 1920s, the French archaeologist Pierre Montet's diggings in Tanis made him believe it could well be Piramesse, but his assistant remarked too many finds don't fit, and all Ramses statues lacked the base. Over half a century later the Austrian Manfred Bietak ...
1 Jul. 2007
Versunkene Metropolen, Part 2 - Hattusa, Machtzentrale der Hettiter
The story of the search for the story of Hattusa, the lost capital of the long forgotten empire of the Hatti, alias Hettites, whose ruler was in its time strong enough to be recognized even by the mighty Egyptian Pharaoh Ramses II as his fellow Great King, and a remarkable feat of Bronze Age engineering complete with sewage, at an impractical but impregnable site in landlocked Central Asia Minor (now Anatolia, Asian Turkey). Archeological finds and cuneiform tablets, in both their own (long illegible, finally deciphered as Indo-European) and foreign languages in ...
8 Jul. 2007
Versunkene Metropolen, Part 3 - Tatort Tucumene: Pyramidenstadt in Peru
The discovery, exploration and especially history of the Lambayeque culture, which succeeded to the Moche in and the around the valley bearing their people's name in northern Peru. Untill the Inca empire reduced them to a province, and its governor took his place on the highest, the 26 adobe pyramids of the dynasty's first capital Tucume -a larger cluster then any of the Pharanoic or Mayan capitals, in total they erected 250- were the seat of their priest-king and his high nobles, testimony to their power and the widely trading nation's wealth, which lasted until the ...
15 Jul. 2007
Rom - Konstantins Flammenkreuz
This is the German version of "Constantine", the fifth episode of the internationally co-produced docu-drama "Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire" (see there for a full historical summary), using the dramatized scenes in full but some alternative off-screen text and interviews, about how Constantine the Great ultimately triumphed over his rivals in the civil wars into which Diocletian's Tetrarchy dissolved, forged a new, strong Byzantine empire, de facto the senior of the Western Roman empire, ended the persecution of Christianity, converted to it and laid ...
22 Jul. 2007
Rom - Der Untergang
This is the German version of "The Fall of Rome", the sixth and last episode of the internationally co-produced docu-drama "Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire" (see there for a full historical summary), using the dramatized scenes in full but some alternative off-screen text and interviews, about the Visigoth king Alaric's various moves to get his people, forced to migrate West by eastern nomads, a new home inside the Roman empire, ultimately leading to the take-over in phases of the Western empire, which had already transferred its imperial seat to Ravenna ...
29 Jul. 2007
Jäger verlorener Schätze - Die Odyssee der Nofretete
Engineer Ludwig Borchardt, who worked in Egypt since 1895 and wed the wealthy archaeologist Mimi he met there, discovered many treasures, including the legendary, 3500 years old bust of revolutionary monotheist Pharaoh Echnathon's mysterious, unprecedentedly powerful queen Nofretete ('the beautiful one has come') on December 6, 1912 in their new capital Amarna's ruins. It's now the main attraction in Berlin's Egyptian Museum, the world's first 'cover girl' since its 1924 first exposition. A recent German archaeological find in Amarna seems to be the matching body. ...
12 Aug. 2007
Der Domschatz von Quedlinburg
The exceptionally valuable treasure of the cathedral of former imperial 'Pfalz' (palatial seat) Quedlinburg, over two dozen masterpieces of medieval imperial art, such as the Samuel evangeliary, which is later offered on the black market, was taken by Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler's SS just before the Second World War; twelve of the valuable pieces disappeared in 1945 from its safe place in a castle cellar, but before the US Fourth Cavalry regiment took the city or by an American officer's doing? The First National Bank branch in Whitewright, an insignificant town in ...
19 Aug. 2007
Jäger verlorener Schätze- Das Rätsel der Schlangengöttin
In the early decades of the 20th century, Sir Arthur Evans's finds at Knossos made the Minoean civilization, 3500 years ago, resume its place as first literate culture in Europe, although he couldn't decipher the alphabet, forcing him to and allowing a lot of imaginative interpretations. He also declared an ivory and gold statue, like the stone one which he baptized the snake goddess, believing it the maternal main Minoan deity, authentic and arbitrarily declared a palatial building a royal grave. In our age, the Canadian Alexander McGillivray, who became an ...
9 Sep. 2007
Tropenfieber 1 - Logbuch Bounty. Das Rätsel der Meuterei
Australian researchers went trough the original logbook of the HMS Bounty, the legendary Royal Navy exploration ship commanded by captain William Bligh, by his own hand, used in the Admiralty trials against the mutineers and against him, but as the expert restorer Anthony Zemmit found later while pages were replaced, including the day of the mutiny, expertly and also in Bligh's hand, obviously by himself. It enabled this more realistic version then the movies, which is completely different, even the age difference between the duty-prone commoner Bligh and the young ...
16 Sep. 2007
Tropenfieber 2 - Vorstoss am Orinoco
In the early summer of 1799, the German baron Alexander von Humboldt set out for the Orinoco stream in the then still practically unexplored, largely un- or wrongly mapped upper Amazonian with his intimate friend, French physician and botanist Aimé Bonpland, Indian porters-rowers and the best available scientific instruments, which he knew exactly how to use, care for and repair. His original, pen-illustrated journals document many details, even how he sort of fled the Prussian capital Berlin, with precise and elaborate ambitions to study both many details and the way...
14 Oct. 2007
Krakatau - Ein Vulkan verändert die Welt
This docudrama, interlaced with documentary commentaries and modern day scenes, tells the story of the 1883 volcanic mega-explosion of the then since 200 years dormant Krakatau on a homonymous minor Indonesian island near Java, the most populous island in the then colony of the Dutch East Indies, which caused a tsunami and over 30,000 fatal victims. Main characters are a superstitious native fisherman, a local Dutchh colonial official and his wife, and about 20 kilometers further in the capital Batavia (now Djakarta), another official and his assistant, a scientist, ...
11 Nov. 2007
Troja ist überall - Triumph der Archäologie: 2/3 Auferstehung am Vesuv
Like Pompeii, Herculaneum was completely covered in lava and ash at the Vesuvian eruption in 79 AD. Its luxurious nature in Roman days is sketched, alternating with the story of its accidental rediscovery in the late 18th century and subsequent excavation and scientific study, which continue even today on this exceptionally rich, complete site. Unfortunately the first dig in Herculaneum, ordered by the Napolitanean king Carlo III, was a terrible example of ruthless treasure hunting for collecting purposes only, without any real sense of history, and causing even more ...
18 Nov. 2007
Troja ist überall - Triumph der Archäologie: 3/3 Das Versteck der Pharaonen
For long archaeological digs in Egypt were little more then brutal treasure-hunts, even using explosives, the measure of success being gold and art. An 18th century pioneer of more scientific Egyptology was Auguste Mariette, a leading researcher for demotic hieroglyphs and a major digger in Saqara, the major graveyard for prominent Pharaonic subjects and old dynasties, where about 70% remains to be excavated, fortunately now under strict government supervision. Grave robbing and black market in antiques remain big business, but today an even greater threat are the ...
1 Jun. 2008
Troja ist überall - Triumph der Archäologie: Das Wunder am Indus
The episode combines modern research in the mainly unexplored, over 1500 known sites of the Indus culture with pioneering work in colonial British India. First general director John Marshall, who realized the Indian subcontinent (mainly Sind province, in present Pakistan) had a superior Bronze Age culture like Egypt and Mesopotamia from about 5,000 BC, but also found at Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa it was very different, engineering amazingly well but for daily life, not glorious ruler and religious monuments; Robert Wheeler, his last successor before Indian and Pakistani...
31 Aug. 2008
Der Code der Götter - Botschaften aus der Eiszeit
The story of the discovery, in ancient subterranean caves, of the oldest testimonies to human -animistic- religion: the realistic, partially symbolic Ice Age paintings (mainly of Animals). These paintings were found in Altamira (Cantabria, northern Spain, 1679), Lascaux and Chavet (1984, also France, 35,000 years; twice as old, yet already showing perspective). Modern technological means show (dramatized/computer-animated scenes) the artists' methods, how life is thought to have been like then and which concepts prehistoric man apparently had. At least as old are ...
7 Sep. 2008
Das Bronzekartell
A series of mining sites from the Mediterranean to Turkestan and its manufacturing, caravan - and shipping trade and various uses all over the Ancient world, especially in rich countries like Pharaonic Egypt, Mesopotamia, the Levant, the Minoian (Crete) and Mycenean (peninsular Greece) Aegeis, show the economic, ecologic, technological, strategic and general cultural importance, context and implications of bronze, the then revolutionary metal alloy made from copper (after which Cyprus is named in Greek) and tin, for the epoch (after the Stone Age) which is named after...
14 Sep. 2008
Die Vampirprinzessin
Moderns researchers believe the historical sources that Bram Stoker based the vampire element of his famous Dracula horror epic on didn't vaguely concern the Transsylvanian prince, who impaled Turkish prisoners of war to terrorize the Muslim 'heathens', but more ad rem the erratic life and death of an authentic superstitious early 18th century Austrian princess, Eleonore Amalia. Born Lobkowitz, spouse and heiress of the Schwarzenberg prince of Krumau, on the Moldau, who was killed by the Holy Roman Emperor in a hunting accident. She used the Ancient method to milk a ...
21 Sep. 2008
Expedition Erde 1 - Vulkane
First part of a BBC-ZDF co-produced geology series, on the different faces and aspects of volcanoes - the generally feared fire-breathing mountains whose violent magma flows, ash clouds and toxic gasses have shattered terror-struck wildlife, people and their possessions since times immemorial. Thomas Reiter visits some planetary regions with major volcanic activity and explains the important part volcanoes played in the very origin of life on earth.
28 Sep. 2008
Expedition Erde 2 - Ozeane
German astronaut Thomas Reiter explains the enormous role of the oceans on our planet. They carry enormous energy stemming from earth-moon gravity and solar energy and redistribute it, causing major streams and winds influencing climate. Recent ecologic research shows even more intricate and extensive effects on life forms, adding weight to the dangers of global warming and pollution beyond all expectations. Temporary closure of the Gibraltar strait caused the Mediterranean to dry up repeatedly, only 1.6 million years ago causing African elephants trapped on Sicily to...
12 Oct. 2008
Expedition Erde 4 - Eis
Ice and snow, aren't just prominent in weather and feared in avalanches. In the long term, cumulative snow layers compressed into ice masses form glaciers. These glaciers actually move up to hundreds of meters a year, thanks to water pockets in the lower layer, which frictions on rocky surfaces, polishing even the hardest mountains. In geologic time frames, ice age phases embody dramatical climate change -with colossal consequences for all life- and reshape the face of the earth, over and over, relatively fast.
19 Oct. 2008
Expedition Erde 5 - Leben
This finale of the geology series discusses the conditions for life on Earth, as we know it, to evolve or be wiped out. Most notably water and an atmosphere to protect the Earth from meteors, like the giant one which wiped out the dinosaurs. Ironically geologist coined the term Athropocene for the present era in which the greatest force threatening earth is home-made: Man, whose Greenhouse effect alone may perish life on earth in a geological whisper.
28 Dec. 2008
Episode dated 28 December 2008
Charles Darwin, son of a wealthy English family or Trinitarian protestants, initially planning a life of leisure or entering the religious ministry, chose instead to pursue his fascination for nature. His social standing enabled to board the HMS Beagle on a cartographic world tour. He barely suffered witnessing the harsh flogging regime of his hard-line Tory host, captain Fitzroy, but stumbled upon evidence for his theory of evolution. Despite initial scientific acclaim, realizing the theological implication Genesis isn't literally true made him wait 20 years, after ...
26 Jan. 2009
Verrat in Triest
In this first of four episodes on brilliant modern age inventors, the story of young Austrian engineer Josef Ressel is explored. He designed, while still a student, about 1812, a revolutionary ship propulsion screw in the Adriatic port city of Triest, then still part of the Austrian Habsburg empire, but fell prey to an international plot.
1 Feb. 2009
Stahlhart zum Atlantik
This second Terra X inventive engineer-heroes special tells how young 19th century oil tycoon Byron Benson won the ruthless race to the Atlantic ports by inventing a new, better type of pipeline to overcome the engineering challenges including sabotage and various other intrigues.
8 Feb. 2009
Kampf um den heissen Draht
This episode examines the late 19th century story of how the telephone was developed, starring Alexander Graham Bell and other inventors. Furthermore it sketches the complexity of the modern worldwide telecommunications network, which started with and still essentially uses the principles of telephony, as well as its dangers.
8 Mar. 2009
August der Starke
The legendary Saxon elector Friedrich August I 'the Strong' ruled since his elder brother's early death in 1694. His private cabinet chief, Count von Fleming, left records on the Saxon "sultan's" Machiavellian power play and court life. A crucial part of this was buying the votes of the Polish people to become its king, after converting strictly Lutheran Saxony to Catholicism, against his Prussian wife. This required a tax reform, after breaking the estates' power by uncovering corruption. He won little real power, but imperial trappings and glory. August turned his '...
15 Mar. 2009
Leonardo da Vinci - Der Genie-Code
16th century North Italian Renaissance genius Leonardo was and is extremely famous, yet aspects of his life were not known. Modern research deduces more from his work, especially the manuscript thousand pages of sharp observations, even his fingerprints. He challenged all taboos and was uniquely polyvalent in his intellectual and creative talents. Furthermore it sketches the context of his birthplace, the village of Vinci he was named after, being the son of a farm daughter and a notary in Milan who couldn't recognize him out of wedlock. He probably had a homosexual ...
Lawrence von Arabien
Lawrence is known to many only as the war hero, but actually developed a passionate interest from a very young age in (especially military) history, as a small middle-class boy -actually a bastard, as he was to discover to Victorian horror, driving him into embarrassed isolation- which he pursued in brilliant archeology studies, producing a pioneering study of crusader castles, for which he visited and carefully surveyed nearly all known sites, mainly throughout the Ottoman empire, proving himself fluent in Arabic and knowledgeable in Oriental culture and religion. ...
Sieg der Feuermaschine
In 1575 the young self-taught Scottish instrument maker officially presents his steam engine for the English mining industry. It was the result of 18 years of tireless private research, wrestling with business debts and famous rival inventor Smeaton, who resorts to intrigues and sabotage. This episode also sketches modern use of the extremely important invention.

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