On April 20, 1925, Colonel Percy Fawcett, his elder son Jack Fawcett and Jack’s lifelong friend, Raleigh Rimmell, departed from Cuiabá, the capital city of the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso, to find “Z” — Col. Fawcett’s name for what he believed to be an ancient city lost in the uncharted jungles of Brazil. The search for the mysterious Lost City of Z would be the great explorer’s last expedition. All three men would vanish without a trace.
Eighty-six years later, Secrets of the Dead has mounted a modern day quest with explorer Niall McCann to find the truth behind the disappearance of famed adventurer Col. Percy Fawcett and his party in Lost in the Amazon, premiering nationally Wednesday, April 20, 2011 at 8 p.m. (ET) on PBS (check local listings).
Secrets of the Dead is a production of THIRTEEN in association with WNET– one of America’s most prolific and respected public media providers.
When Col Fawcett set out in 1925 to find the lost city he called “Z,” it was the biggest news of the day. Millions followed the reports he sent back to civilization with local runners. But, he was not a treasure hunter like those seekers of El Dorado, the mythical city whose king was said to cover himself with gold dust.
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Inspired by the discovery of Machu Picchu and other Incan sites in 1911, this war hero, surveyor and amateur archaeologist, became fascinated with the notion that large civilizations once existed in the Amazon. This fascination, coupled with a spiritual and mystical belief that his son was a “chosen one,” suggest the true purpose behind his final journey.
Along with new archaeological digs and the science behind the discovery of newly found jungle cities, there are two clues pointing to the fate of Fawcett and his two companions: his signet ring which surfaced 60 years after he disappeared and a map with a secret code only his wife could decipher. In addition, Secrets of the Dead shares surprising finds that are causing experts to re-think the image of a pristine uninhabited, uncivilized Amazon rainforest — a place that before Columbus, may actually have had large populations living in sophisticated towns and cities. Is it uninhabited or just not urban?
THIRTEEN’s Secrets of the Dead: Lost in the Amazon is a Lost World Films Limited production for THIRTEEN, VISION TV, JOY TV, and AETN in association with WNET. Narrator is Live Schreiber. It is directed and written by Peter von Puttkamer. The producers are Sheera and Peter von Puttkamer. Executive Producers for WNET are Jared Lipworth and William R. Grant.