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Argus Leader: Dr. Adrien Hannus to be Featured on PBS

Meredith Moriak, Argus Leader

A nationwide television series set to air Wednesday features Sioux Falls archaeologist Dr. Adrien Hannus at five historic U.S. archaeological sites.

Hannus, a professor at Augustana College, spent summer 2008 filming for PBS's new show, Time Team America. To unearth and discover historic artifacts, Hannus and a team of archaeologists traveled to North Carolina, South Carolina, Illinois, Utah and South Dakota.

"It was a great experience. I never would have seen the sites we went to without the show," Hannus said.

Fort James, about 15 miles southeast of Mitchell, was built in 1865 and occupied by the Army to protect pioneer settlers from Sioux Indians during the Civil War. The fort, on land owned by the Rockport Hutterite Colony, is unique for the time and was built with stone rather than timber.

By October 1866, the fort was shut down as a result of political changes in Washington and lack of funds. It was used for various purposes by the community and eventually, settlers began using stones for their own buildings.

Ground foundations still exist today and Time Team America archaeologists spent three days following buried wall lines, unearthing a barrack containing several historic items related to a cavalry unit.

Sources: Tom Kilian and Dr. Adrien Hannus

The South Dakota site, Fort James, is outside of Mitchell. The team spent three days there following buried wall lines, unearthing a barrack containing several historic items related to a cavalry unit. Their discoveries included a steel pin used for tethering horses inside the barracks.

Bringing the show to South Dakota is important for plains archaeology, he said.

"It helps the public see there is a real interest in archaeology and what we do," said state archaeologist Jim Haug.

"It was really an honor for Fort James to be included in the sites they did over the course of the summer," said Tom Kilian, author of "Tales of Old Dakota, a book which examines Fort James.

The show attempts to place the viewer at the dig site and is unlike other archeology shows and PBS programs.

"It's more like a real-time experience and not a documentary," said executive producer David Davis. "It's more like a reality series in a way. The clock is ticking and at the end of three days, you have to see what you have."

The findings of Hannus and his team will be broadcast in a five-episode series, featuring one site a week. Each episode highlights a 72-hour dig.

"For most archeologists, digs take years and years to finish," Davis said. "We have the technology that fast tracks what they do and we can get a lot done in three days."

The show is based on the British hit Time Team, which has aired for 17 years.

Time Team America will air at 7 p.m. Central Time Wednesdays on PBS, and the show featuring Fort James will air on Aug. 12.

"I've always imagined it would be fun to spend your summer on an archaeological dig, so this TV series can give millions of people that experience," Davis said.