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History Channel Series Highlights Work by Tankersley and His UC Students

The series "The Universe" on the History Channel is the latest in a long line of international media to feature the work of UC Assistant Professor of Anthropology Ken Tankersley and his students.

Date: 9/1/2009 12:00:00 AM
By: Carey Hoffman
Phone: (513) 556-1825

UC ingot   The work done by UC students working in the Ohio Valley Archaeology Field School may be in remote locations, but many times it has turned out to be easily accessible to the public.

That’s because UC Assistant Professor of Anthropology Ken Tankersley is often used as an expert source by documentary filmmakers. The latest example debuts on Tuesday, Sept. 1, at 9 p.m. Eastern Time, when the History Channel series “The Universe” airs an episode titled “It Fell from Space.” (The episode repeats at 1 a.m. on Sept. 2 and again at 7 p.m. on Sept. 6. It also will be available for viewing in its entirety on the History Channel's Web site.)

The show documents anthropology students from UC and Tankersley working in Sheriden Cave in Ohio’s Wyandot County about six months ago. The cave is a rich resource for documenting historical events through the geologic record. In particular, this episode focuses on what Tankersley calls “a cosmic event – some kind of comet or asteroid exploding with a force greater than any thermo-nuclear device – 13,000 years ago.”

The interesting aspect, though, is that although climate change followed this event, evidence in the cave shows that none of the 70 animal and plant species in existence in the region prior to the cosmic event became extinct in the time period following it, according to Tankersley. That is most unusual, considering the typical pattern of what follows such an impact.

Previously, Tankersley and his students have been featured in other documentaries on the History Channel, the National Geographic channel, the Discovery Channel, the PBS series “Nova” and the BBC. Earlier this summer, work he did regarding the beginnings of the Cherokee language was featured in the New York Times.