Columbus: Secrets From The Grave
Atlantic Productions for
the Discovery Channel, first
aired August 1, 2004.
Columbus is celebrated as the founding father of the new world. Yet for
all his fame, he kept a closely guarded secret: his identity.
Could he once have been a pirate? An enemy of the state? Even a Jew hiding
from the terror of the Spanish Inquisition? The secret of Columbus' true
identity went with him to the grave. But now a scientific team has exhumed
his remains to discover the truth. Can an investigation by historian
Charles Merrill and the latest scientific techniques reveal who the real
Columbus was and solve the 500-year-old mystery of his origins? This
film was the Discovery Channel's highest rating special of the year.
Narrator: ...while psychological profiling attempts
to discover the man behind the mask.
Bursztajn: Columbus invented America, is it a stretch
to imagine that also Columbus invented himself in the process? I don't
Narrator: Merrill has asked a psychological profiler,
Dr. Harold Bursztajn, to search for a motive behind Columbus' cover up.
Bursztajn: For someone to obscure their identity, must
mean that they are either being driven by fear, they are afraid of something;
they are being driven by shame, they are ashamed of something; they are
driven by desire, they want something.
Narrator: Experts believe that the ambitious explorer
was trying to cover up the shame of his modest beginnings.
Narrator: But Dr. Bursztajn thinks it's unlikely for
one crucial reason. Columbus did not hide his family, he kept his brothers
close to him throughout his lifetime.
Bursztajn: If he had been a member of a pro-Genoese
family, and he wanted simply to forget about it, it's more likely that
he would not have wanted to have his brothers close to him as he rose
to power. Usually under those circumstances, the people who are considered
to be lower class are left behind.
Narrator: Dr. Bursztajn's analysis suggests he did.
Bursztajn: The price that one pays in hiding one's identity
is a considerable price, so there has to be something that outweighs
it. It could be a process which is driven by being an enemy of the state
originally who wants to go ahead and switch sides but doesn't want to
publicize the fact that he had been an enemy of the state especially
if that is still held against you, that would be consistent with that.