Topper site dig featured in new PBS series
The University of South Carolina's Topper archaeological dig site—home to some of the most significant research on earliest man in America—will be the subject of an hour-long episode in a new national PBS television series airing at 8 p.m. July 15 on SC-ETV stations.
Topper, located in Allendale County along the banks of the Savannah River, will be the second episode of the Time Team America series. The series launches July 7.
Based on a long-running British series, Time Team America takes viewers inside some of the most intriguing archaeological sites in America. The show's crew, comprising archaeologists and scientists, share the rush of discovery with viewers as artifacts emerge from the ground.
"This is the first one hour national broadcast on Topper, which is some measure of the importance of the site and the amount of public interest in the archaeology of early humans in the Americas," said Dr. Al Goodyear, the University of South Carolina archaeologist whose research at the Topper site has captured international attention and has put the archaeology field in flux.
Goodyear's findings suggest an occupation of an earlier pre-Clovis people dating back some 50,000 years or more and have sparked scientific debate and interest.
"A scientist may work for decades and not find anything extraordinarily rare or exciting, but we've had more than our share of these really cutting-edge discoveries," Goodyear said.
The Time Team America crew filmed at the Topper site in early June 2008. Producer Graham Dixon and a 20-member crew followed Goodyear and his team of graduate students and volunteers as they combed the depths of the Pleistocene layers to find Clovis and pre-Clovis artifacts, adding to the extensive artifacts previously excavated.
They also caught up with Arizona geophysicist Dr. Allen West who, with Goodyear in 2007, conducted research to support a theory that a giant comet exploded over North America around 12,900 years ago, killing the large beasts of the day (the wooly mammoth and mastodon), and, probably, many of the Clovis people.
PBS calls Time Team America "part extreme adventure, part hard science and part reality show." Dixon said he wants viewers to have the sensation of being on a dig and eavesdropping on conversations by top scientists.
"Time Team is about showing the reality of archaeology to the ordinary person and demystifying some of the processes going on. We never know what is going to happen on a dig. It's very exciting," said Dixon last June during the show's taping.