Nova: Ghosts of Murdered Kings

Nova: Ghosts of Murdered Kings

Wednesday, July 2 at 9:00 p.m.

What can today's forensic scientists reveal about Ireland's mysterious bog bodies?

In the hills of Ireland’s County Tipperary, a laborer harvesting peat from a dried-up bog spots the remnants of a corpse — a headless torso almost perfectly preserved and stained dark brown by the bog.

Archaeologists recognize it as one of Europe’s rare bog bodies: prehistoric corpses flung into the marshes. The corpse eventually will be dated to the Bronze Age, more than 4,000 years ago. Forensic evidence reveals a shockingly violent death.

"Nova" follows archaeologists and forensic experts in their hunt for clues to the identity and the circumstances of this and other violent deaths of bog body victims. A new theory emerges that they are ritually murdered kings, slain to assure the fertility of land and people. "Nova’s" ancient detective story opens a tantalizing window on the beliefs of Europe’s long-vanished prehistoric peoples.

Photo: Close-up of Old Croghan Man's hand showing the remarkable preservation of the skin and nail.