Tomb Raider: Join explorer Josh Gates as he uncovers a sarcophagus in Egypt live on Discovery Channel
This is not adventurer and explorer Josh Gates’ first visit to Egypt, but it definitely is the one that he is most excited about. Assisted by Egyptologist Dr Zahi Hawass, and Mostafa Waziri, the Secretary-General of the Supreme Council of Antiquities of Egypt, Gates, for the first time on television, will be involved in the opening of an Egyptian sarcophagus on the show Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live on Discovery channel.“Though I’ve been to Egyptian sites before, this is the first time that I’ve had the pleasure of being on the air when a sarcophagus is opened. So I’m really excited about it and I hope that our viewers will be excited as well,” says Gates in an email interaction, ahead of the telecast.
Last year, a unique black granite sarcophagus — the largest of its kind ever found in the region — was discovered in Alexandria. Locals believe that the tomb is that of Alexander the Great himself, and feel a great curse would be unleashed on anyone who opened it. Gates, who emphatically states that he doesn’t believe curses, clarifies, “Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live is not about the tomb of Alexander the Great. It is about a series of burial shafts in middle Egypt that are believed to have belonged to the noble elite. A number of mummies have already been excavated out of these chambers. So, the live show will be about continuing to explore these chambers to see who’s buried down there, and to open a sarcophagus on live TV.”
Ask him what he personally hopes he will find, and he says, “For me, it is an opportunity to go into new parts of the tomb, and to see new mummies and sarcophagi that haven’t been seen before by the modern world. I also hope to find all sorts of interesting relics and remains that can tell us more about the people that are buried in these tombs.”
Gates concedes that going live comes with its own set of challenges, given the unpredictability factor and the fact that he has never done a live format expedition before. “Our goal is to make the viewers a part of the excavation, so they are really there with us in real time. They will be part of the challenges and will be able to see the difficulties we face in the chambers that are small and claustrophobic, and how we are trying to bring television cameras in there,” offers Gates, who hopes that this expedition is not as challenging as some of the others he has encountered in the past. “We had a lot of difficult episodes while shooting Expedition Unknown. I remember in Season Four, shooting in the rain forests of Ecuador, we were exploring a really difficult cave with a lot of snakes and spiders. Everybody in the crew, including me, got sick from a virus from the animals in the cave and we ended up in the hospital. In the upcoming season, we have gone deep into the wilderness of Siberia. We went to Siberia in winter, which was really challenging and taking the television cameras along was a task in itself. A lot of the trips required technology and taking them to these remote places has been challenging,” he explains.
Wonder of wanderlust
Born and raised in Massachusetts, the 41-year-old has been the host of many adventure shows, including Expedition Unknown, where he also serves as executive producer. The show takes viewers around the world on thrilling investigations — from lost Incan cities to investigating Amelia Earheart’s disappearance, they’ve done it all. “One of the weird things about travelling is that the more you do it, the more you realise how much there is out there,” says Gates, adding, “When I went to India for the first time, I was excited that I could check India off my list. Then I looked at India’s map for the first time, and I realised that India is huge! You go to places and learn about other wonderful places, so the more I travel, the more I realise how much is really there to see.”
Gates, who has in the past served as co-executive producer on shows like Destination Unknown and hosted Ghost Hunters Live, says that his love for travelling began from an early age. “My father was a deep-sea diver. He was always working in faraway places and always coming home from exotic locations. My mother is British, so we would travel a lot to England. From an early age, I was very excited about the idea that the world is a big dynamic place. To be able to travel as much as I did, from an early age, and to be able to have a perception of a bigger world out there, fueled my imagination and got me excited about the idea of exploration,” signs off Gates, who is looking forward to the premiere of a new season of Expedition Unknown.
Expedition Unknown: Egypt Live will be aired live on April 8, at 11 am, on Discovery Channel and Discovery World. Repeat telecast at 6 pm.