Wednesday, December 19, 2012 on Exploration Wednesday
NATURE: Christmas in Yellowstone @ 7pm
As snow falls and Christmas lights glow in Jackson Hole, a holiday season of a different sort settles in just beyond the town, in the great winter world of Yellowstone. Breathtaking landscapes frame intimate scenes of wolves and coyotes, elk and bison, bears and otters as they make their way through their most challenging season of the year. NATURE journeys in the footsteps of the men who first explored the park, and travels with their modern-day counterpart on his own journey of discovery. From the unique crystals of individual snowflakes to the grand sweep of Yellowstone’s Hayden Valley, this is a Christmas like no other.
NOVA: Riddles of the Sphinx @ 8pm
For 45 centuries, the Great Sphinx has cast its enigmatic gaze over Egypt’s Giza plateau. The biggest and oldest statue in a land of colossal ancient monuments, its scale is staggering: the mighty head towers as tall as the White House, while its body is nearly the length of a football field. This strange half-human, half-lion image has inspired countless fantastic theories about its origins. How was it built, and who or what does it represent? Surprisingly, the scribes of the period when it was built — during Egypt’s Old Kingdom — passed over it in silence. Adding to the mystery, archeologists found that its creators abruptly discarded their tools and abandoned the structure when it was nearly complete. Searching for clues, NOVA’s expert team of archeologists, including Mark Lehner (director, Ancient Egypt Research Associates), carries out eye-opening experiments that reveal the techniques and incredible labor invested in the carving of this gigantic sculpture. The team also unearths new discoveries about the people who built the Sphinx and why they created such a haunting and stupendous image.
NOVA: Building Pharaoh’s Ship @ 9pm
A magnificent trading vessel embarks on a royal expedition to a mysterious, treasure-laden land called Punt. Is this journey, intricately depicted on the wall of one of Egypt’s most impressive temples, mere myth — or was it real? NOVA travels to the legendary temple, built some 3,500 years ago for the celebrated female pharaoh Hatshepsut, in search of answers to this tantalizing archeological mystery. Did Punt exist and, if so, where was it? Did the ancient Egyptians, who built elaborate barges to sail down the Nile, also have the expertise to embark on a long sea voyage? NOVA follows a team of archeologists and boat builders as they reconstruct the mighty vessel shown on the mysterious carving, and then launch it into the Red Sea on a unique voyage of discovery.