British students take course at Mitchell dig

Mitchel, South Dakota (AP) 7-08

Twenty-one students from England’s University of Exeter are taking a four-week course in archaeology at Mitchell’s Prehistoric Indian Village.

The field work is important for the students, said Alan Outram, a senior lecturer in archaeology at Exeter.

“They get a high-quality archaeological experience,” Outram said. “It’s just a few centimeters below the surface and there are just piles and piles of stuff.”

All the students are between their first and second years of study.

Naomi Jolliffe, an Exeter student from Hampshire, England, said she thinks everyone on the team has responded to the work, which is inside a dome.

“I think it’s really good experience because no digs I’ve ever been to before have been under cover,” Jolliffe said. “It’s great because you always manage to find something.”

The students dig, work in the lab and handle elevation equipment.

“It’s good to get that practical experience early on,” Outram said. “Particularly so they can make a bit of a decision as to whether they really want to do archaeology as a career when they finish.” 


The students also experience Midwestern culture.

“Though we have the same language, approximately, it is a very different area to be in,” Outram said. “There are large expanses of land here that we don’t get in England.”

Another difference is South Dakota’s erratic weather. “We don’t get electrical storms or tornado warnings (in England) like we do here,” Outram said.

Jolliffe said the people in Mitchell are friendly and “make you feel really welcome.”

Visitors can walk into the lab and talk with the students.

“It’s been really unique digging and having people come around and ask questions,” said Jodi Flores, who is working on a master’s degree in experimental archaeology. “Not only are you digging, but you’re working with the community as well.”

Outram and L. Adrien Hannus, principal archaeologist at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, are leading the team. Exeter and Augustana have a relationship that lets Augustana students major in archaeology and spend a year at Exeter.

Exeter students return each summer to dig at the village, and Augustana students can do research on their findings throughout the school year.

It’s the fifth year Exeter has brought students from England to dig at the village.