Extreme Archaeology
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Extreme Archaeology

2004, Science  -   17 Comments
Ratings: 7.25/10 from 8 users.

Extreme ArchaeologySeries aiming to excavate difficult archaeological sites all over Britain, with the help of Dr Mark Davies and a team of young diggers.

Bridge on the River Wye - Traveling to the site of a Roman bridge in the Wye Valley, South Wales. They hope to date the structure, as well as gather artifacts and evidence steadily being destroyed by climate change.

Living on the Edge - Exploring one of Britain's most remote and inaccessible sites, the Kame of Isbister off the north coast of Shetland. The group must gather and record as much data about the site as possible, establishing a date and function for the dwellings, and finding out the rate of erosion damage.

Cannibals and Cavemen - Exploring caves beneath Culzean Castle in Scotland. Their mission is to collect evidence and determine whether the caverns were linked to the castle via a tunnel. Radar and laser scanning technology is used to produce a 3D representation of the cave interior and artefacts are found including pottery, glass, animal bone and human remains.

Parys Underground - Entering a once-flooded copper mine beneath Parys Mountain on Anglesey in North Wales in the hope of retrieving Bronze Age artefacts. However, their exploration of the tunnels is plagued by difficulties, and they must decide whether the dangers involved outweigh the importance of the information they hope to gather.

Parys Mountain - Excavating archaeological sites all over Britain whose locations make them difficult to dig.

The Tintagel Connection - Visiting a Roman site at Tintagel, Cornwall, which is thought to have been a base of operations for traders. Their mission is to recover valuable evidence of imported wares and shipping but the environment and weather present many hazards. Abseiling, climbing and diving skills are needed to access the site - which must be investigated thoroughly before the whole cliff edge slips into the sea.

Bay of Bones - Visiting Longoar Bay in Pembrokeshire to excavate three mysterious stone coffins which have been exposed by erosion. Inaccessible from the ground, the burials can only be reached if the crack archaeologists abseil down the crumbling cliffs.

Shetland Fortress - Traveling to Shetland to conduct the first-ever archaeological investigation into a mysterious group of stones on a promontory known as Burgi Geos that was, according to local folklore, an Iron Age fortress. However, their first challenge is to get to the site - they face a 900-mile drive followed by a four-hour walk through Europe's wettest bog before starting the search for evidence.

Death in Slaughter Stream - Visiting the Forest of Dean to explore the Slaughter Stream, a labyrinth of caves beneath the woodland where they hope to find evidence of ancient human habitation. The archaeologists must first complete a tricky two-hour journey just to access the site and, once there, it is soon clear that extreme exhaustion and low temperatures are going to be their biggest obstacles. Last in series.

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17 Comments / User Reviews

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  1. Monika

    Lol .. thank you for the laugh. Cannot wait for them to find my sunglasses in the mud. Lol

  2. gothnate

    I never said it was a bad show, I just wish they'd let people see all sides of a subject rather than the "ratings getter". Especially if they want to get more kids involved.

    Younger people generally flock to action and adventure, but are discouraged with any "boring" stuff. I get that, but it's just like the military.

    "Hey, you! Come and fight oppression, tyranny, and fight for peace and justice.... and by the way, you'll be hold up in this underground bunker for six months, pulling 20 hour shifts, not allowed to talk about anything you do or see (even with those who have seen it too), with no chance of seeing a woman at all, let alone socially."

    I'd be more apt to make a serious decision with all the information, rather than just the "juicy bits".

    1. Kubby Bitzer

      excellent point there bud, lol I was in the Marines and I can relate what you said to what the recruiter said xD

  3. coyote03

    @ Waldo

    haha definitely don't just go digging, the government is a b*tch about that! There's a cool documentary about the discovering of a dinosaur mummy, where the team that discovers it doesn't have the correct permits/documents and the discovery is taken away from them and they never get to work on it again, a devastating occurrence for an archaeologist who just found a naturally mummified dinosaur!

    That's amazing that you've found so many items! Once you start finding things like that I can imagine you get hooked for life! I definitely need to get out of the city and do some exploring myself :D

    @ gothnate

    First, let me apologize. There was a sentence I used that when I look back, sounds pretty rude :) Never my intention, but I can be an a*s haha

    There's no doubt they could have prepared better for that particular episode, they knew the weather was going to be bad during that time of year and they knew the site was very hard to access. At the same time, it gets ratings. Also, I'm sure this group has a schedule, they apply for permits, dig, then go to the next site to try and film this TV show, gotta be tough to plan it all out. All in all this is an amazing show, I find it kinda funny that the main guy does virtually nothing while he basically calls in 'Charlies Angels' to do the work, but hey, whatever works haha

  4. Waldo

    I have decided to go with what I love, full steam ahead. the more I think about it Coyote03 is right. I could major in archeaology and also get a degree in Native American studies or the clovis period. I am happy, thanks Coyote03. Of course this will only be the third time I have changed my major in the last two years, so who knows huh. I think this time I am really decided though, that is until I see a cool physics or cosmology documetary (LOL). This is really what I wanted from the get go, I think. So much knowledge to gain, so little time. I hope reincarnation is reality.

  5. Waldo

    @ gothnate

    The name of the program is extreme archeaology, what did you expect? Of course they are trying to gain viewers. They would be letting people down to use a helicopter and actually Coyote03 is exactly right to suggest it could damage the site, archeaology is very delicate work and often artifacts are found lying on the surface. These could easily be blown away into the sea by a heli hovering overhead low enough to lower people.

    To suggest that the winds are as rough as that produced by a helicopter and then say they should use a helicopter is absurd, ever heard of the phrase, "Getting caught in the propeller wash"? Copter pilots purposely stay out of the "Wash" when flying together as it very well can cause accidents and has infact. You are obviousely dead set on believing what you like, so go for it- but it seems like nit picking and personal bias to me.

    @ Coyote03

    Yeah, we do have many cool sites. Problem is it is illegal to get caught digging, without express permission from the tribe that was on the site, if they are still in existence, and the state government. You can search the surface but you have to turn in what you find so it can be recorded, studied, and placed on display.

    Still, I have done some work around my own home, found three very cool pieces of pottery with visible markings/designs on them and countless arrow heads and spear heads. Thats how I got hooked on archeaology in the first place. I uncovered three different harths, or places where they were burning cooking fires I would assume. I am somewhat scared to show them to anyone though. It is a local hobby for people to dig and the state takes it very seriousely, very steep fines and possible jail time.

    I have done some research, of course, and it looks as if I have some old Cherokee pieces. They had a settlement in the area I dug in and in many other places around the river bottom I live in. I find arrow heads all the time on the surface just walking around and looking in the fields right after they turn them for planting and it rains. The rain washes away the loose soil that is covering them after the plows turn them up, and they are fairly easy to find. I have a total of about three hundred arrow heads, and only five spear heads.

    Recently I found out how to distinguish between the Native american arrow heads and the Clovis man, much earlier prehistoric people that lived in North America. If I am right about fourteen of the arrow heads I have are from Clovis man and not Native American. I also have what I think to be primitve axe heads, only two of those.

    Its not uncommon in my area for people to have these things. Well, the pottery is rare but not the stone hunting implements. I am going to take it all to Auburn University soon and let them have them for identifying them for me. It isn't right for me to keep them, possibly they could shed some light on the arcgeaological record in this area. Plus the tribes that are still in existence might want the peices for their museums. I don't think I will get in trouble if I surrender them to a University and let them deal with the state, and stay quite about digging. I am of course also going to tell them where the site is that I found them at and volunteer for any further excavations. I may take them to UNA, where I am currently attending, but they have much less sophisticated facilities. I am dying to get the full story behind the site and the peoples that lived there, I'll keep you informed.

  6. gothnate

    The reason I say I doubt the wind was the reason for not having used a helicopter was because I've seen many helicopters hover in the same wind speeds as they said in the video.

    If, however, the winds were too strong for them to use a chopper, why on Earth didn't they wait until a better season to dig? Mid-October in the northern hemisphere is just as bad for high winds and unexpected weather as is the spring months. In fact, the worst time to do any digs in areas that are coastal Atlantic is between July and November since that's the Atlantic hurricane season.

    Finally, saying they would be worried about a chopper disrupting the dig site is far off. The reason being, this is a windy area as it is. If the wind hasn't totally destroyed the site for the hundreds upon hundreds of years it's been there, a few days with a chopper hovering isn't going to do much if anything. Not to mention the grass protects the area from wind and erosion.

    As I said before, I think they just want to do things the hard way, a.k.a. extreme sports way, to gain viewers.

  7. coyote03

    @ gothnate

    I'm not sure if you've visited the British Isles, heck, maybe you live there, I'm not sure. But a 200 foot tall cliff on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean is quite susceptible to RIDICULOUS winds all year round! That's the downside to living in the North Atlantic right on the coast. To suggest a helicopter would've helped is ludicrous! The extreme windiness means it would be a HUGE risk, one certainly not worth taking! I'm not sure why you doubt it was the wind, they continually mention how rainy and incredibly windy it is. Helicopter pilots have a difficult time hovering in windy conditions, it'd be nearly impossible for a helicopter to drop all of them off as well as their equipment in a safe manner. Not to mention, these are archaeologists, there goal is to leave the site as in tact as possible! Flying a helicopter over and hovering there or landing is most likely going to cause some permanent damage to the site and/or displace certain things, that's the last thing they want. I don't see this group as being dumb in the slightest! There are many procedures one must follow when excavating ancient sites, they simply are following all the necessary procedures to ensure safety and preservation of the site when they can. Sorry for my rant :)

    @ pip

    To make that conclusion you must not have watched more then 2 minutes of the first episode.

    This really was quite a remarkable program, it demonstrates the true hardships archaeologists go through all in an attempt to piece together the past. AND it was entertaining and exciting, what a combination! Maybe that's just my bias, I love this stuff!

    @ Waldo

    I get filled with joy and excitement watching this type of stuff also, to be able to discover these artifacts and piece together the information to get a clear picture of what was going on, is to me, AMAZING!!! I know there's been many different groups and peoples living up and down the Mississippi river for thousands of years, many of these cultures constructed temple mounds and/or burial mounds and utilized maize agriculture, so there is definitely some cool history/archaeology in the South Eastern US, there's probably a lot more going on there then we've discovered! :D

    I actually watched Indiana Jones 'Raiders of the Lost Ark' last night! I've always wanted to have his job, adventurer, cultural anthropologist, archaeologist (or as they refer to him, 'obtainer of lost antiquities'), kicker of asses haha I majored in Anthropology and Religious Studies at University, amazing experience, but now I wish I could get out there and explore the world (I've traveled all over, but never done any archaeological work). It is a bit hard to find actual work and get out there and 'discover' or help unearth something :( but it's definitely not impossible :)

    Best of luck in whatever decision you make!

    Holy crap that was a long post! Thanks for adding sooooo many new documentaries to the list each day Vlatko, you're amazing! Happy Holidays and Happy New Year for all those that are celebrating :D

  8. Waldo

    Just finished the last episode and all I can say is, WOW! They find bones from wooly mammoths and wooly rhinos animals over ten thousand years old, remarkable! It makes me want to change my major back to archeaology, but I have to face reality- where would I find work? I live in the southeastern US, not exactly a hot spot for archeaology. People tell me all the time to do what I think I would love to do, but I can't help but feel like it would be foolish to pursue such a line of work for someone my age and in my location. Still, I absolutley love this type of stuff. Does any body have any advice, should I stay with physics geared toward mechanical engineering or go into what is my real passion, archeaology or paleoanthropology?

  9. Waldo

    @ gothnate

    You are probably right, but whats more entertaining to the general public? Them flying over in a chopper or three good looking chics navigating a knife edged cliff. Myself, I love archgeaology and would watch without the extreme sports part and the good looking girls, but you and I both know thats not the norm for the pop culture public. I salute their efforts, you do as you like.

  10. gothnate

    These guys are backed by the Discovery Channel. I'd say if they needed a chopper, they could get one easily.

  11. Waldo

    @ gothnate

    Its pretty obviouse that this is suppose to appeal to the extreme sports crowd and possibly draw in the more hip crowd to a science generally considered square, archaeology. Besides, perhaps they do not have the buget for helicopters, most archeaological expeditions don't.

    @ pipboy

    I see absolutely nothing wrong with the science involved, and I have studied archaeology extensively as I once declared it my major. They are following all the rules of archaeology. They are careful not to destory the site or any artifacts, they look for datable material, they leave a portion undisturbed for future archaeologists with better technology, they get permission from whom ever they need to and stick to the guide lines set out by them, they use established history to make inferences about what they find, they are using the latest geo physics eqiuptment as to only disturb places they think they have a viable target,they stick to the most simple and usual explanations to make conclusions, etc. What exactly bothers you, that they are young and good looking, that they are predominantly female? What?

    @ Everyone

    A great documentary, I have made it to about the fourth episode so far. Very interesting. It is an odd combination I must admit, extreme sports and archaeology. But, maybe it will appeal to the younger hip crowd and influence them toward studing in the feild. Besides, the extreme sports part is very small, most of the program by far is spent on genuine archeaology at real sites making important discoveries. Also the typical archeaologist is never going to take the risks involved in excavating these types of sites, and thus much of it will be lost and never examined. They don't seem to be taking unnecessary risks to me, just doing things in the cheapest way possible- helicopters are expensive. Archeaology has been declining in popularity amongst the young college kids these days, this type of approach may do something to help that.

  12. Pipboy

    These guys are pathetic. Scientists ... ha. Brittish hipsters :D

  13. gothnate

    I've watched the first episode and part of the second so far, but it seems to me these people keep doing things using the most difficult ways possible.

    For instance, in the second episode, why was a helicopter not used to taxi the entire team over and lower each one to the site? If it was because of the wind (which I highly doubt), their excavation time shouldn't have been during one of the windiest times of year.

    I think the history they're uncovering is great and the show isn't bad, but if all archaeologists are this dumb, it's a wonder we've found the pyramids.

  14. Russ

    Great site Vlatko , thanks .....

  15. Prix

    @Charles B

    Haha, welcome back Charles. Glad to have you back, haven't read comments from you or from Randi for a really long time. Don't know what happened to you guys. Anyway, I'm excited to watch this one as well.

    Thank you Vlatko! So many documentaries and so fast! This is so amazing!

  16. Charles B

    Oh wow! This looks like a great series! I'm excited to start watching it, but I only a few days left before I leave on a very long computerless vacation. So many docs so little time!

    Thanks Vlatko!