The Underworld's wild man

'Cities of the Underworld' host Don Wildman recalls Indiana Jones-esque experiences from exploring ancient worlds.

Even after taking the 6 a.m. redeye flight from Los Angeles and running on no sleep, Cities of the Underworld host Don Wildman led students in Maxwell Auditorium on a global trek through thousands of years of history and geography. 

The Undergraduate Anthropology Club at Syracuse University brought Wildman to campus Wednesday night to give an open lecture about his experiences exploring underground worlds across the globe.  "Cities of the Underworld" ran three seasons and still airs on The History Channel.  During its run, the show covered five continents, 35 countries and approximately 150 different underground sites, Wildman said.  The guest lecture marked the first major event held by the club since its creation in 2006. 

"Even as a boy and still as a grown man, I’ve always been curious about underground."
- Don Wildman.

“We are really excited to bring Don Wildman in because he has such a wide appeal,” UAC president Tamara Luce said. “He can pull from all spectrums to create a presentation that is really informative and not a typical, dry lecture.  This event is huge for the UAC.” 

Wildman entertained a crowd of about 40 people with Indiana Jones-esque tales about giant black leeches in Okinawa, Japan, and his cameraman’s hair catching fire in Dublin. The TV host used photographs, video clips and stories from his travels to put together a multifaceted presentation. The lecture jumped from behind the scenes stories about how the crew managed to capture incredible shots and historical lessons about early Christendom in 12th century Ethiopia. 

During the lecture Wildman took students on a tour of the world in a similar fashion that he does on his television.  Wildman modeled the lecture after his show by starting with a modern setting, such as Tokyo, and then diving underneath the cement to reveal hidden historical treasures.  Students were treated to snapshots of New York City, London and Sicily, as well as the Valley of the Golden Mummies in Egypt, Tigray, Ethiopia and Cappadocia, Turkey.

“Even as a boy and still as a grown man, I’ve always been curious about underground,” Wildman said. “I think about what’s really down there and what’s hiding underneath our cities.  It’s really incredible when you think about it.” 

Though the host stayed for just 30 hours in Syracuse, this did not deter his inquisitive nature.  In typical Wildman fashion, the TV host explored SU and took snapshots of the buildings around campus.  Wildman even had lunch at Varsity before giving his lecture. 

For those fans who miss catching the adventurer in new episodes, fear not. Wildman revealed that he has signed with the Discovery Channel and is working on creating a new show in the future.  Though it will not exclusively focus on the underground, it will explore aspects of engineering, Wildman said.

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