PBS films at Indian Camp ruin

TV series utilizes new archaeology technology

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and a ruin at Indian Camp Ranch are being featured in the PBS series Time Team America.

“The Lost Pueblo Village” episode will be screened at the Dolores Public Library on March 27 at 6 p.m.

A Crow Canyon archaeologist will introduce the video and describe the Basketmaker Communities Project, including the excavation highlighted by Time Team. Refreshments will be served.

It will air nationwide on Aug. 26 on PBS.

“Locals will get a kick out of it and will recognize all sorts of familiar faces,” said Shawnna Diederichs, Crow Canyon archaeologist, and supervisor of the Basketmaker project.

The TV series energizes archaeological study by using the latest technology within a time limit for discovery. Time Team’s experts are given 72 hours to uncover secrets of the digs.

The Dillard ruin site at Indian Camp Ranch, a subdivision northwest of Cortez, was chosen for the show, and received the fast-track research method. Light detection and ranging (LiDAR) technology, 3D imaging, geophysical surveys, and aerial fly-overs were used.

In four days, the team uncovered knowledge that would have taken years. The results revealed a more elaborate village than thought, Diederichs said.

“We thought we only had a single structure, a Kiva on an isolated landscape, but Time Team helped us find out the extent of a village surrounding the site,” she said. “It is much bigger than we thought.”

It is estimated that 11 families lived in 17 different structures discovered using the latest imaging equipment deployed by the show’s archaeologists.

The site is considered important for history of the Basketmaker III period, 500 A.D. to 750 A.D. The era saw the introduction of pottery, cultivated beans, and the bow and arrow. It is a time of dramatic increase in population in the central Mesa Verde region.

“These folks were homesteading a virgin landscape that nobody had farmed before,” Diederichs explained. “They made a go of it and brought a social architecture with them.”

Some scenes feature experimental archaeology, where Time Team participants create spear points and use an atlatl to hunt.

After four days of filming, the team unveiled structures buried under eight acres around the Kiva at the Dillard site.

One technology used electrical currents shot into the ground to detect magnetic properties of burned materials where ancient fire hearths are buried. LIDAR scanning from the air mapped the site in half-inch increments. And thanks to a grant from the Colorado State Historic fund, archaeologists were able to create a 3D animation of the site.

Time Team American showcases the scientific disciplines that contribute to archaeological research and exposes cutting edge technology for the field.

Host Justine Shapiro interviews Crow Canyon researchers on camera in the locally filmed episode. The Dillard site is located in a one-of-a-kind Cortez subdivision that features ancient ruins on the lots.

jmimiaga@cortezjournal.com