“Mummies: time travellers from the past. Who were they and how did they die?” That’s the goal of History’s latest documentary series, Mummies Alive.
Narrated by Jason Priestleyâ€”he utters the above quote off the top of the showâ€”Mummies Alive,Â produced by Canadaâ€™s Saloon Media and UKâ€™s Impossible Factual, is pretty entertaining. Rather than focus on the mummies we’re used to, like Egyptian pharaohs, this six-parter explores discoveries from different parts of the world andÂ a wide range of time periods.
Sunday’s first episode, “The Gunslinger Mummy,” delves into the back story of a mummy on display at a Seattle curiosity shop since the 1950s. According to stories passed down, “Sylvester” was an American Wild West cowboy killed 120 years ago in a saloon shootout. But is that hole in his leathery stomach really from a bullet? Using state-of-the-art science, professors Ron Beckett and Jerry Conlogue investigate the truth behind the surprisingly well-preserved corpse. As Beckett exclaims, Sylvester looks more like a wooden carving than a mummy, complete with a full moustache and mouth full of broad, crooked white teeth.
Rather than perform an autopsyâ€”which would destroy the bodyâ€”they turn to forensic pathologist Dr. Richard Shepherd and his super-cool computer scanner, which removes layers of skin to reveal the skeleton underneath. Experts embark on some stunning tests, including using a Colt .45 and a beef brisket to prove whether or not Sylvester was shot in the stomach and ifÂ the Arizona desert really was hot and dry enough to turn Sylvester into a mummy.
Rather than just stick with the science of the investigation, Sunday’s debut uses newspaper articles, word-of-mouth and CGI to tell the allegedÂ tale of Sylvester, a rough-and-tumble man who may have been on the wrong end of a poker game. Gunfights in the Wild West were commonplace, but is that what happened to Sylvester? A history of the time period and other facts are revealed until the true story of Sylvester, his lifeâ€”and circumstances surrounding his deathâ€”are brought to light. It’s a fun and informative ride.
Upcoming episodes include spotlighting two Iron Age bog people and a Neolithic murder victim.
Mummies Alive airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET on History.