Getting archeology onto the silver or flat screen has always been a tricky proposition: you have to entertain, but stick to the facts, all without encouraging site looting. One of the programs that seems to have done it, at least in the U.K., is Time Team. And now it’s coming to the U.S. As Kris Hurst put it on her About.com blog, Time Team America “brings a Mission Impossible team of professional archaeologists to a different archaeological site in the United States,” where they spend “three days at each site, bringing along a raft of cutting edge remote sensing and geophysical survey techniques.”
So what does that have to do with NCPTT? Our brushes with fame number two. First, advancements in the use of one of the techniques in that “raft” was funded in 2007 by a PTT Grant to Christopher Fennell the University of Illinois. Fennell’s research explored how aerial thermal infrared technology might be used to identify the infrastructural features of urban archeological sites, like roads. Working at the 19th century town of New Philadelphia—the first town platted and legally registered by an African American in the United States—Chris found that the technique holds promise for detecting buried structural foundations.
New Philadelphia happens to be one of the sites showcased in the show’s initial season.
Our second link to Time Team is in terms of their personnel. The Time Team folks are recognized for their expertise on a variety of topics. As Kris Hurst declared, “as an archaeologist I would have killed for a visit from such a team.” Indeed. One of the geophysics experts is Bryan Haley. Bryan Haley worked with Tommy Hailey, another PTT Grantee, to carry out the thermal infrared research at New Philadelphia, and Haley also has been one of the core instructors for NCPTT’s innovative Prospection in Depth geophysics workshop since it started in 2006.
So, as you search the t.v. for quality programming, give PBS’ Time Team America a look. Be sure to catch the New Philadelphia episode, which will be on PBS on Wednesday, July 22, at 8 pm eastern/7 pm central! Don’t forget to look for Bryan and Chris, and keep your ears sharp for mention of aerial thermal technology!