By K. Kris Hirst
The PBS program airing July 29, 2009, illustrates the fabulous scenery in Range Creek, while giving us a bird's eye view of the archaeological ruins. An introduction to Fremont is woven throughout the program, including a detailed discussion of the Pilling collection of Fremont figurines, by Renee Barlow of the College of Eastern Utah Museum.
Other topics addressed in the program include types of storage by Metcalfe, pollen analysis from Linda Scott Cummings, and experimental recreation of an adobe-walled granary by Time Team members.
The official PBS website:
Range Creek, Utah
Site Update: Final Thoughts
Site Update: July '09
Comment: What's good about this episode is it provides a solid overview of the Fremont people and the archaeological process. Some of the imagery is impressive. It's not a coincidence that almost half of Time Team America's opening montage seems to come from this episode.
What's not so good is that the episode promises more than it delivers. The biggest find is a previously hidden structure that may be a granary. Okay, but that really doesn't tell us anything new about the Fremont people. It may be exciting to archaeologists, but it probably isn't to the rest of us.
What happened to the people?
In particular, the narrator hints that Range Creek may reveal some Fremont secrets, including why the people left. Uh, no, the episode doesn't offer any new information or insight about that. It gives us only a line or two on the subject, less than in this summary:
For more on the subject, see Fort Raleigh in Time Team America.
Below: "An example of the petroglyphs found in Range Creek Canyon. A unique style of rock art, such as these trapezoid-shaped figures, are a distinctive feature of the Fremont people." (Photo: Colin Campbell).
Note: This site isn't that far from the original Newspaper Rock in southeastern Utah, where the Fremont and "Anasazi" people were among those leaving their marks.