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Secrets of Lost Empires II—China Bridge

Program Overview


Uncover the Latest Secrets from NOVA
Magnificent structures—symbols of faith, power, commerce, or comfort—are the intriguing legacies of the civilizations featured in this five-part miniseries, Secrets of Lost Empires. Without modern technology, these ancient builders achieved construction feats that still impress today.

NOVA travels to the sites of these once-mighty empires to answer the question, "How did they do that?" Expert teams of engineers, archeologists, and master builders attempt to recreate the structures, using the materials, tools, and techniques thought to have been available to their ancient counterparts. The researchers draw on tantalizing clues found in ruins, paintings, and documents to guide them. But in this real-world laboratory, things don't always go as planned. The teams demonstrate science inquiry in action, refining their hypotheses through trial and error. In the process, they gain a deeper understanding of the ancient builders and their worlds.


China Bridge
Among the many inventions of China's Song dynasty during the eleventh and twelfth centuries was the "rainbow bridge." The high arch of the bridge solved the problem of spanning a fast-moving river without impeding boat traffic. But how were wooden beams interwoven to form the curve depicted in a scroll from the period? NOVA travels to the heart of the Song dynasty to build a replica rainbow bridge across a busy canal.

Teacher's Guide
Secrets of Lost Empires II—China Bridge
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