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University archaeology researcher Jon Leader (right) working with PBS appraiser and historian Elyse Luray.
University archaeology researcher Jon Leader (right) working with PBS appraiser and historian Elyse Luray.

University archaeologist to be featured on ‘History Detectives’

South Carolinians will have the opportunity to see a Palmetto State history sleuth in action on PBS’ popular series, “The History Detectives,” airing at 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, on SC-ETV.

Dr. Jonathan Leader, a University of South Carolina researcher and state archaeologist, will be featured for his work on a Civil War mystery.

Leader applied scientific instrumentation, archaeology knowledge and archival research skills to determine whether an old bridge abutment found near the Broad River was the same bridge burned down to foil Gen. William T. Sherman’s advance on Columbia in February 1865. PBS filmed Leader and Carmen Beard, a geographic information systems (GIS) specialist at the University of South Carolina, conducting a series of tests at the site in March.

Leader said some remarkable archival work done by David Brinkman, a Columbia history enthusiast who purchased the land where the bridge abutment sits, provided a compelling case for testing. Brinkman had been researching the ruined bridge abutment in his yard for some time. In 2006, Brinkman and Leader looked at the bridge with the idea of dating it. Their historical research continued over the next couple of years.

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"History Detectives"

  • What: Popular PBS program that explores the details of famous points in history
  • Who: Dr. Jonathan Leader, university researcher and state archaeologist, will discuss his work on a Civil War mystery.
  • When: 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 7, on SC-ETV

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