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Virginia archaeologists slam plantation dig for TV series

DANVILLE, Va. (AP) — State archaeologists are criticizing Confederate treasure hunters for a dig at a plantation site in Southside Virginia during the shooting of a television series last year.

One archaeologist likened the dig to ripping pages from a history book.

The filmed dig for artifacts was for a Discovery Channel series called Rebel Gold. While the treasure hunters had the permission of family members to dig at Oak Hill Plantation, the Danville Register & Bee (http://bit.ly/23tX6Dp) reports they now regret that decision.

Archaeologists with the Virginia Department of Historic Resources said the work of the TV treasure hunters in Pittsylvania County will make it difficult for future historic interpretation of the area. Archaeologist Mike Barber said their methods would not be used in a serious historical dig.

A producer of the TV series and a Discovery spokeswoman both declined to respond to the criticism.

Tom Klatka, another state archaeologist, compared the January 2015 dig by the TV treasure hunters to “ripping pages from a book and destroying those pages.”

“That part of the story of Oak Hill is lost,” he said.

The treasure hunters kept some of the artifacts and donated others to local historical organizations, Klatka said.

Items removed from the plantation included bottle and plate fragments, carved wooden buttons, oyster shell hand-carved buttons, coins dating to 1829, smoking pipe fragments and other items.

The Oak Hill Plantation includes portions of a main house built in 1823, a barn, slave quarters, the foundation of an old hunting lodge, terraced gardens and other features. It also has what is believed to be the remains of an icehouse, or a subterranean pit filled with trash.

 

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