Sunday, March 05, 2006

Survivorman on TV Been meaning to do a small post about this show, to which I have become mildly addicted recently. Web site here. It's about a guy (Les Stroud) who takes camera gear into various wildnerness areas and stays for a week without supplies. He does all the filming himself (see FAQ on the web site) so that means working with camera equipment while at the same time carrying out the basic necessities of surviving.

The reason I bring it up is because he often makes reference, in some cases actually visiting the sites of, aboriginal (archaeological) people who lived in the very same habitats. This makes clear the idea that, at one time, people really did live off the land like this, and watching Stroud attempt to find both water and food really gives one an appreciation for the level of ecological knowledge and simple, yet effective, technology required to make a living in these locales.

This only goes so far though. Obviously, yer basic early Holocene hunter-gatherer wouldn't be wandering around the mountains in winter; they'd go down into the valleys to hunt game and gather whatever they can. They would know where the game was at that time, what other resources were available, etc., not to mention having a tool kit available for actually acquiring the resources. So watching Les struggle to find food along a frozen lake obviously doesn't give you a good idea what a Paleoindian would be doing (that's not really the point of the show anyhow). He's also generally not going to go out and bring down a large game animal which would probably turn off a lot of his audience and make the animal rights people have a collective thrombo. But still, it brings something of an immediacy to the problems of acquiring resources when you're without modern technology.

Might it not be interesting to have Les or someone else (hey, Josh Bernstein. . .) do something similar and follow an archaeological lifestyle for a week? Make some pottery, collect some grains, grind it up into flower, collect and dry salmon, etc. You could even not restrict yourself to being a H-G; say, live as a 12th Dynasty Egyptian for a week or a month? That would be cool.

Stroud's web site is here, BTW.