Doorways in Time Playlist: The Great Archaeological Discoveries

It’s only very, very rarely that one person’s trash turns out to be another person’s actual treasure…but sometimes there’s no other way to describe it. In this newest series inside the Historiansplaining Podcast, Dr. Sam chronicles the unexpected yet invaluable archeological discoveries that have changed our understanding of the past, and reveal long ago civilizations that otherwise have been almost completely forgotten to time.

This series alternates between free installments and episodes available to patrons only for the first year after they’ve been recorded – Become a patron (at any amount you want to contribute) to unlock all the most recent series content.

Doorways in Time Episodes:

All the episodes of the playlist on the four most popular platforms, starting with the most recent installments, including patron-only episodes on Patreon as well.

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #6: Early Audio Recordings

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #6: Early Audio Recordings
Currently available to Patrons only, on the Patreon App and website: What do I get as a supporter?
I'm already a supporter
Quick Sample:

In the second half of the nineteenth century, many of the most brilliant and ambitious minds in both Europe and America were bent upon solving the problem of capturing sound waves from the air and playing them back. Most of their efforts, including the earliest "phonautograms" from more than a decade before Edison's invention of the phonograph, were either forgotten or lost to decay and degradation. In the past fifteen years, however, scientists and engineers, including the First Sounds collective, have located the surviving remnants of early sound recordings and devised ways to optically scan them and reproduce the sounds that they captured, revealing much of the auditory world of the nineteenth century and the pathways by which the now-ubiquitous technology of audio recording came into being.

Special thanks to the First Sounds collective, for recovering long-lost audio recordings and sharing their files freely with the global public, at www.firstsounds.org. All audio files used in this lecture are courtesy of First Sounds, except for the Edison/Wangemann cylinder recording from 1889, which is courtesy of the National Park Service and the Cylinder Archive.

Listen on Patreon Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #5: Gobekli Tepe

Quick Sample:

We examine the so-called "zero point of history," the "first temple," the "world's oldest building," the massive and deeply ancient complex of stone-age megalithic monuments on a hilltop in Turkey, which since being uncovered in the 1990s, has dramatically overturned received ideas about the beginnings of civilization.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Full Episode Details

UNLOCKED: Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #2: The Nag Hammadi Library and the Gnostic Gospels

Quick Sample:

Unlocked after one year for patrons only: The secretive Gnostic stream of Christianity, which taught a radically different metaphysics and spiritual cosmology from "orthodox" doctrine in the first four hundred years of the church, was largely lost to history, until 1945, when a camel-herder in a remote part of Egypt stumbled upon an old ceramic jar with 13 massive books containing 52 ancient Gnostic texts. We consider what the so-called "Nag Hammadi Library," which may have been hidden in the desert to protect it from destruction, reveals about the origins and importance of the Gnostics' secret teachings. Image: A Nag Hammadi codex open to the beginning of the Apocryphon of John.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Full Episode DetailsRelated content: 8 episodes On the History of Christianity

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal
Currently available to Patrons only, on the Patreon App and website: What do I get as a supporter?
I'm already a supporter
Quick Sample:

One moonlit night in 1853, an Iraqi excavator named Hormuzd Rassam and his team snuck into the hills outside of Mosul and began to uncover the massive palace of the last ancient Assyrian emperor, Ashurbanipal. Inside the palace was the largest trove of surviving documents from the ancient world that has ever been found. The massive library of over 30,000 tablets illuminated what had been the most mysterious empire of the Iron Age, brought to light the ancient masterpiece of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and provided the first window into the lost Near Eastern mythology that influenced the Biblical book of Genesis. While the discovery provided the greatest triumph of British imperial antiquarianism, in recent times Saddam Hussein and other Arab nationalists have attempted to reclaim its legacy by building a modern Library of Ashurbanipal.

Listen on Patreon Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #3: The Terracotta Army & the Tomb of Qin

In 1974, group of Chinese farmers drilling a well in a parched field in a far northwestern corner of China found pieces of terracotta sculpture, which would point the way to East Asia's greatest ever archaeological discovery -- a tremendous trove of sculpted warriors, each one unique, amassed in a great army marching eastward from the necropolis of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor. Just spared destruction in the Cultural Revolution, the army is most likely only the tip of the iceberg of the wonders still waiting to be excavated deep within the emperor's burial mound. In 1974, group of Chinese farmers drilling a well in a parched field in a far northwestern corner of China found pieces of terracotta sculpture, which would point the way to East Asia's greatest ever archaeological discovery -- a tremendous trove of sculpted warriors, each one unique, amassed in a great army marching eastward from the necropolis of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor. Just spared destruction in the Cultural Revolution, the army is most likely only the tip of the iceberg of the wonders still waiting to be excavated deep within the emperor's burial mound.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Full Episode Details
Also see China, pt. 1 - Making the Middle Kingdom

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #1: The Sutton Hoo Treasure

Quick Sample:

Why was the excavation depicted in Netflix's "The Dig" the most important archaeological discovery ever made in Britain, or arguably in all of Europe? How did some artifacts found in a mound near an English widow's garden in Suffolk on the eve of World War II revolutionize our understanding of the Dark Age? Why would they come to serve as symbols of the ancient roots of the English nation, and how did Sutton Hoo vindicate the new science of archaeology? The story that Netflix did not tell you.

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Full Episode Details

Also see:

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #5: Gobekli Tepe

Quick Sample:

We examine the so-called "zero point of history," the "first temple," the "world's oldest building," the massive and deeply ancient complex of stone-age megalithic monuments on a hilltop in Turkey, which since being uncovered in the 1990s, has dramatically overturned received ideas about the beginnings of civilization.

Listen on SoundCloud

Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal
Currently available to Patrons only, on the Patreon App and website: What do I get as a supporter?
I'm already a supporter
Quick Sample:

One moonlit night in 1853, an Iraqi excavator named Hormuzd Rassam and his team snuck into the hills outside of Mosul and began to uncover the massive palace of the last ancient Assyrian emperor, Ashurbanipal. Inside the palace was the largest trove of surviving documents from the ancient world that has ever been found. The massive library of over 30,000 tablets illuminated what had been the most mysterious empire of the Iron Age, brought to light the ancient masterpiece of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and provided the first window into the lost Near Eastern mythology that influenced the Biblical book of Genesis. While the discovery provided the greatest triumph of British imperial antiquarianism, in recent times Saddam Hussein and other Arab nationalists have attempted to reclaim its legacy by building a modern Library of Ashurbanipal.

Listen on Patreon Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #3: The Terracotta Army & the Tomb of Qin

In 1974, group of Chinese farmers drilling a well in a parched field in a far northwestern corner of China found pieces of terracotta sculpture, which would point the way to East Asia's greatest ever archaeological discovery -- a tremendous trove of sculpted warriors, each one unique, amassed in a great army marching eastward from the necropolis of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor. Just spared destruction in the Cultural Revolution, the army is most likely only the tip of the iceberg of the wonders still waiting to be excavated deep within the emperor's burial mound. In 1974, group of Chinese farmers drilling a well in a parched field in a far northwestern corner of China found pieces of terracotta sculpture, which would point the way to East Asia's greatest ever archaeological discovery -- a tremendous trove of sculpted warriors, each one unique, amassed in a great army marching eastward from the necropolis of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor. Just spared destruction in the Cultural Revolution, the army is most likely only the tip of the iceberg of the wonders still waiting to be excavated deep within the emperor's burial mound.

Listen on SoundCloud

Full Episode Details
Also see China, pt. 1 - Making the Middle Kingdom

UNLOCKED: Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #2: The Nag Hammadi Library and the Gnostic Gospels

Quick Sample:

Unlocked after one year for patrons only: The secretive Gnostic stream of Christianity, which taught a radically different metaphysics and spiritual cosmology from "orthodox" doctrine in the first four hundred years of the church, was largely lost to history, until 1945, when a camel-herder in a remote part of Egypt stumbled upon an old ceramic jar with 13 massive books containing 52 ancient Gnostic texts. We consider what the so-called "Nag Hammadi Library," which may have been hidden in the desert to protect it from destruction, reveals about the origins and importance of the Gnostics' secret teachings. Image: A Nag Hammadi codex open to the beginning of the Apocryphon of John.

Listen on SoundCloud

Full Episode DetailsRelated content: 8 episodes On the History of Christianity

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #1: The Sutton Hoo Treasure

Quick Sample:

Why was the excavation depicted in Netflix's "The Dig" the most important archaeological discovery ever made in Britain, or arguably in all of Europe? How did some artifacts found in a mound near an English widow's garden in Suffolk on the eve of World War II revolutionize our understanding of the Dark Age? Why would they come to serve as symbols of the ancient roots of the English nation, and how did Sutton Hoo vindicate the new science of archaeology? The story that Netflix did not tell you.

Listen on SoundCloud

Full Episode Details

Also see:

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #6: Early Audio Recordings

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #6: Early Audio Recordings
Currently available to Patrons only, on the Patreon App and website: What do I get as a supporter?
I'm already a supporter
Quick Sample:

In the second half of the nineteenth century, many of the most brilliant and ambitious minds in both Europe and America were bent upon solving the problem of capturing sound waves from the air and playing them back. Most of their efforts, including the earliest "phonautograms" from more than a decade before Edison's invention of the phonograph, were either forgotten or lost to decay and degradation. In the past fifteen years, however, scientists and engineers, including the First Sounds collective, have located the surviving remnants of early sound recordings and devised ways to optically scan them and reproduce the sounds that they captured, revealing much of the auditory world of the nineteenth century and the pathways by which the now-ubiquitous technology of audio recording came into being.

Special thanks to the First Sounds collective, for recovering long-lost audio recordings and sharing their files freely with the global public, at www.firstsounds.org. All audio files used in this lecture are courtesy of First Sounds, except for the Edison/Wangemann cylinder recording from 1889, which is courtesy of the National Park Service and the Cylinder Archive.

Listen on Patreon Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal
Currently available to Patrons only, on the Patreon App and website: What do I get as a supporter?
I'm already a supporter
Quick Sample:

One moonlit night in 1853, an Iraqi excavator named Hormuzd Rassam and his team snuck into the hills outside of Mosul and began to uncover the massive palace of the last ancient Assyrian emperor, Ashurbanipal. Inside the palace was the largest trove of surviving documents from the ancient world that has ever been found. The massive library of over 30,000 tablets illuminated what had been the most mysterious empire of the Iron Age, brought to light the ancient masterpiece of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and provided the first window into the lost Near Eastern mythology that influenced the Biblical book of Genesis. While the discovery provided the greatest triumph of British imperial antiquarianism, in recent times Saddam Hussein and other Arab nationalists have attempted to reclaim its legacy by building a modern Library of Ashurbanipal.

Listen on Patreon Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #5: Gobekli Tepe

Quick Sample:

We examine the so-called "zero point of history," the "first temple," the "world's oldest building," the massive and deeply ancient complex of stone-age megalithic monuments on a hilltop in Turkey, which since being uncovered in the 1990s, has dramatically overturned received ideas about the beginnings of civilization.

Listen on YouTube

Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Discoveries #4: The Library of Ashurbanipal
Currently available to Patrons only, on the Patreon App and website: What do I get as a supporter?
I'm already a supporter
Quick Sample:

One moonlit night in 1853, an Iraqi excavator named Hormuzd Rassam and his team snuck into the hills outside of Mosul and began to uncover the massive palace of the last ancient Assyrian emperor, Ashurbanipal. Inside the palace was the largest trove of surviving documents from the ancient world that has ever been found. The massive library of over 30,000 tablets illuminated what had been the most mysterious empire of the Iron Age, brought to light the ancient masterpiece of the Epic of Gilgamesh, and provided the first window into the lost Near Eastern mythology that influenced the Biblical book of Genesis. While the discovery provided the greatest triumph of British imperial antiquarianism, in recent times Saddam Hussein and other Arab nationalists have attempted to reclaim its legacy by building a modern Library of Ashurbanipal.

Listen on Patreon Full Episode Details

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #3: The Terracotta Army & the Tomb of Qin

In 1974, group of Chinese farmers drilling a well in a parched field in a far northwestern corner of China found pieces of terracotta sculpture, which would point the way to East Asia's greatest ever archaeological discovery -- a tremendous trove of sculpted warriors, each one unique, amassed in a great army marching eastward from the necropolis of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor. Just spared destruction in the Cultural Revolution, the army is most likely only the tip of the iceberg of the wonders still waiting to be excavated deep within the emperor's burial mound. In 1974, group of Chinese farmers drilling a well in a parched field in a far northwestern corner of China found pieces of terracotta sculpture, which would point the way to East Asia's greatest ever archaeological discovery -- a tremendous trove of sculpted warriors, each one unique, amassed in a great army marching eastward from the necropolis of Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor. Just spared destruction in the Cultural Revolution, the army is most likely only the tip of the iceberg of the wonders still waiting to be excavated deep within the emperor's burial mound.

Listen on YouTube

Full Episode Details
Also see China, pt. 1 - Making the Middle Kingdom

UNLOCKED: Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #2: The Nag Hammadi Library and the Gnostic Gospels

Quick Sample:

Unlocked after one year for patrons only: The secretive Gnostic stream of Christianity, which taught a radically different metaphysics and spiritual cosmology from "orthodox" doctrine in the first four hundred years of the church, was largely lost to history, until 1945, when a camel-herder in a remote part of Egypt stumbled upon an old ceramic jar with 13 massive books containing 52 ancient Gnostic texts. We consider what the so-called "Nag Hammadi Library," which may have been hidden in the desert to protect it from destruction, reveals about the origins and importance of the Gnostics' secret teachings. Image: A Nag Hammadi codex open to the beginning of the Apocryphon of John.

Listen on YouTube

Full Episode DetailsRelated content: 8 episodes On the History of Christianity

Doorways in Time: The Great Archaeological Finds #1: The Sutton Hoo Treasure

Quick Sample:

Why was the excavation depicted in Netflix's "The Dig" the most important archaeological discovery ever made in Britain, or arguably in all of Europe? How did some artifacts found in a mound near an English widow's garden in Suffolk on the eve of World War II revolutionize our understanding of the Dark Age? Why would they come to serve as symbols of the ancient roots of the English nation, and how did Sutton Hoo vindicate the new science of archaeology? The story that Netflix did not tell you.

Listen on YouTube

Full Episode Details

Also see:





And Wait, There’s More

In addition to the 7 main playlists, Historiansplaining boasts guests interviews, commentary on current events, and critiques of recent books, film & television, plus our Hot Off the Presses list – all with Quick Samples of featured episodes:


Things You Don’t Know

Did Columbus really think that he was going to reach Asia?
What little do we actually know about Shakespeare, the person?
Why is it misleading to apply the word “religion” to Judaism and Hinduism?
How did Tisquantum (popularly known as Squanto) already know how to speak English before the Pilgrims had ever arrived?
Ever heard that Florida has no history? Dr. Sam wants you to know how incorrect that common perception actually is…
How did so much of the Epic of Gilgamesh remain hidden and forgotten – but preserved – for over 2,000 years until being rediscovered in modern times?
What did Netflix’s movie “The Dig” miss about the most dramatic part of the whole Sutton Hoo discovery?
What does the English Civil War of the 1640s tell us about the American Civil War, and about the present?
What can we know about enslaved Africans who were held in a specific New England house, even without written records?
Who were the Freemasons of the 1700s? How did they grow from a local Scottish fraternity to a global network?
How can one mid-sized U.S. city – Tulsa, Oklahoma – serve as a microcosm of so much of the triumphalism and tragedy of American history?
Why can no one agree on what “capitalism” actually is? And why does a lack of clear definition call into question so many other myths of the modern world?
How – and why – did universities begin in the Middle Ages, long before the scientific revolution and the “Enlightenment”?
Was there really an Exodus from Egypt like the one described in the Bible?
How did accusing people of witchcraft further several political agendas of the time?
Why did every Renaissance-era ruler in Europe have a court astrologer?
Does a single coin prove that Vikings came all the way to what’s now the United States?
Why is the dramatic 2019 fire at Paris’ Notre Dame actually a common occurrence for cathedrals around Europe?
Why don’t US citizens directly elect their President? Or have a more proportional Senate?
Are people really becoming less religious than they used to be?
What did followers of the ancient and secretive branch of Christianity, Gnosticism, actually believe?
How did changes in the climate in the 1600s lead people to think they were living in the Apocalypse? How did this help spur the creation of institutions and forces that still shape the world today?
Could all of British history have turned out differently if the winds on the English channel had shifted direction on just one day in 1066?


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