• TV fans are digging the drama

    Adjunct SOU archaeologist appears on nationwide PBS show that fits her adventurous spirit
  • It's not every day that Applegate archaeologist Chelsea Rose gets to butcher a bison using primitive stone tools.
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  • It's not every day that Applegate archaeologist Chelsea Rose gets to butcher a bison using primitive stone tools.
    In 2012, Rose, an adjunct faculty member with Southern Oregon University's Laboratory of Anthropology, was at a bison kill site in Badger Hole, Okla., where she and a small team of veteran archaeologists, excavators and geophysicists joined local researchers to uncover the historical secrets buried there.
    Badger Hole was one of four places the team visited while filming the second season of the PBS series "Time Team America," produced by Oregon Public Broadcasting and funded by a National Science Foundation grant.
    The show was filmed during summer 2012, and the season debuted June 16 on OPB, garnering "really great ratings," said Kelsey Wallace, an OPB spokeswoman. "Time Team America" will air nationwide on PBS in August.
    "It's part archaeology show and part reality show, and that's what makes it dramatic and exciting," Wallace said, adding that Rose helped carry the show with her "fun, charismatic on-screen presence."
    The second episode, which aired at 10 p.m. Monday, details the team's work in Badger Hole, where members excavated a bed of bison bones buried about 10 feet beneath the surface in a canyon where, 10,000 years ago, American Indians would trap the bison, Rose explained.
    This species of bison has long been extinct and was about 20 percent larger than the bison living today, she said.
    "These animals were so large they had to be processed on site," she explained. "(The Indians) would butcher them and take the meat but leave the bones."
    To better understand this experience, a team member killed a bison, donated by the local Cheyenne and Arapaho tribes, and the whole team participated in harvesting the meat using only stone tools.
    "We literally tried to replicate what had happened 10,000 ago," Rose said. "You may think of a rock as a not very effective tool, but it was surprising how sharp it was and how easily you could cut your hand with it."
    Rose said they had to butcher "the humongous beast" quickly before the heat and flies could spoil the meat, which was distributed to tribal elders and local community groups, as well as barbecued and enjoyed by everyone working on the site.
    "It was so fascinating that I didn't get caught up in the gore of it," she said.
    For the season premiere, the crew spent about a week excavating areas of an upscale neighborhood in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., that in the early 1800s was a 270-acre plantation where Josiah Henson was enslaved.
    Henson was a slave for about 40 years before he escaped to Canada and later produced an autobiography, published in 1849. His account inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe's novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin."
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