English Students Help South Dakotans Dig Up Prehistoric Past

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KELO Mitchell Dig

Augustana University has been digging near Mitchell for 35 years. For 15 years, students from England have been crossing the ocean to join the dig north of Mitchell.

Now, they’re inviting the public to join them; for free! We went to the dig site to find out what they’re finding below your feet.

Students from the University of Exeter have been traveling across the pond to study South Dakota archaeology for over a decade now. In that time, a lot has changed.

“There was only a very few inches removed by previous excavations before our group started coming out. So we’ve seen almost all of the archaeology here. We’ve gone down a really long way and found an awful lot of things,” said Alan Outran, Professor of Archaeological Science University of Exeter. 

Professor Alan Outran has brought over more than 200 students in that time, who help dig up this site about three miles north of Mitchell.

“We found some really exciting things over the years to do with the history of corn in the area, maize, and how it started being farmed in this region,” said Outran.

“Just is a different time period that I haven’t really looked at before or excavated. So that’s a lot of fun,” said Exeter student, Rachael Saunders.

Not only is it a new kind of dig, it’s also student Rachael Saunders’ first trip to South Dakota and she has a few feelings about the state.

“Quite hot. Very windy,” said Saunders. 

Aside from the elements, Saunders says she’s excited to already find some bone on her first few days.

Later this month, the dig site will be open to the public to learn more about archeology and this prehistoric Indian village!

“We’re extra specially bringing somebody else over from Exeter who’s a specialist in that sort of experimental archaeology as we call it,” said Outran.

“That will be fun. Showing people what we’re passionate about and the great stuff that is literally just centimeters under their feet,” said Saunders. 

The University of Exeter will be paying for Archeology Days this year, so it is free to the public!

It’s being held from 10:00 a.m to 5:00 p.m. daily from June 30 through July 1. There are activities for kids of all ages. For more information call 605-996-5473.

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