History Stories

Assault from the air didn’t begin with the era of the airplane. In Airborne Assault, we are taking a look at ancient weapons the came from the sky. The kite bomb was a medieval siege weapon that dropped bombs over cities from an airborne kite. Ever heard of ancient bouncing bombs? These bombs could actually skip over water, and they terrorized Turkey in 1453. Investigate the world’s earliest rocket-powered explosive missile from the ancient battlefields of China, along with whistling arrows that were used by commanders to direct the flow of a battle. Finally, watch as the earliest known successful parachute is rebuilt and drops a skydiver from 6,000 feet.

Ancient Secret Agents investigates the systems by which ancient intelligence services transmitted messages over thousands of miles, using the fire beacon, the horse and the pigeon. Which of these is the swiftest? Explore how ancient spies sent secret messages using invisible ink made of human sperm or by writing on the inside of a raw egg. Discover how Japan’s covert assassins, the ninjas, used more than darts and poisons—they were pretty good with explosives as well. Find out how a Roman James Bond used a suit made of cork to support him in full armor during a covert operation across a river.

In Gruesome Medicine, the secrets of ancient healing are rediscovered. Examine how the leech was used as a medical tool and see how a fish with the power of a Taser gun cured pain. How did the ancient Inca practice trepanning, the art of relieving pressure on the brain by cutting open a hole in the skull? Learn how snake venom was used as medicine—a technique that modern doctors are re-learning today. Through replicas and computer-simulated virtual surgery, see how brain surgery was performed on Prince Henry V of England to remove an arrow from his skull—the first ever life-saving surgery ever performed on a historical figure.

In addition to Airborne Assault, Ancient Secret Agents and Gruesome Medicine, here’s a look at some episodes from Ancient Discoveries:

  • Amazingly, some world records that still stand today were set in the ancient world. Explore how changing measurements and values have made the ancient world’s greatest wonders even more impressive in Ancient Record Breakers.
  • Hidden in an ancient manuscript lies a secret recipe for tracer fire, but does it really work? Did a nine-barreled medieval volley gun mark the birth of the modern machine gun? Examine some of the strangest and deadliest weapons ever built in Guns n’ Ammo.

Related Collections

Explore the rites and ruins of the Aztecs, Inca, and Mayans in Great Civilizations: Ancient Americas.

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From the great temples of Greece to the majestic Tenochtitlan, survey the architectural and engineering triumphs of history’s magnificent civilizations in Engineering an Empire.

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