When you open the door of this Stone Age home, you might see reindeer hides on the floor and hare, squirrel and fox skins being stretched and dried; you might see a fire being fed by birch wood, willow baskets and flint knifes being used, and even a reindeer carcass hanging from the ceiling, a sacred body feeding this tribe; you might find bowls with blueberries, a gourd filled with water and many wooden bowls and spoons piled by the fire pit; you might hear whispers, giggles and even a child’s laughter; you’ll most likely smell and see smoke in the air, maybe even listen someone breathing deeply while they wander in the dreamworld; you will see familiar faces, those of your Clan, dressed in skins and furs, smiling at you.
When you open the door of this home, don’t just stand there. Come inside and join us around this fire. You are welcome here. This is your tribe.
As many of you may already know, I was very lucky to be part of a small Stone Age Winter Experiment that took place last month at Kierikki Stone Age Centre, in Yli-Ii, Finland. I spent two full months preparing for it, doing nothing else other than tanning hides and sewing them together in garments that could hopefully protect me from the cold climate of the region. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve probably witnessed a lot of this preparation process through my stories! ehehe And during this time, all I did was promising you that eventually I would share everything with you. So, I’ve got good news, guys… today is the day!
As promised, I’ll (finally!) start sharing all about this adventure. I’ll share both about my experience living in a Neolithic village for a whole week during the Winter, and also about the whole process I went through to make my clothing for it.
My hope is that all this information can be of use to others and motivate more people to create their own garments and use them out in Nature. I also hope I can inspire as many people as possible to ditch mainstream ideas of Stone Age people and start seeing our hunter-gatherer Ancestors with new eyes.
For this blog post, I want to start by introducing the place where we did our experiment as well as explaining what the aim of this project was.
Kierikki is a Stone Age Centre, a place where visitors can not only visit an amazing indoor archaeological exhibition, featuring hauntingly beautiful prehistoric tools and pottery, but also immerse themselves in a real size Neolithic village located along the Iijoki River. The village works as an open-air museum and is based on the findings unearthed in excavations of an actual Stone Age dwelling site nearby that has been studied by archaeologists since the 1960s.
Kierikki was once home to a thriving community of hunter gatherers, about 7000-5000 years ago. These highly skilled people lived in permanent villages all year round because the area was particularly abundant in food, with plenty of salmon and seals to hunt. Seal skins and seal fat were traded with other communities in exchange for flint and amber. Log houses and stone structures were built and clay pottery was very relevant to the local culture, being used to store food. You can learn more about Kierikki here.
So, what was our aim with this Stone Age Winter Experiment? I guess there were two main things we wanted to do. On one hand, we were there to help promote Kierikki, giving this wonderful place more visibility by being available to talk with regional and national Finnish journalists about what we were doing. We did our best to convey the message about the importance of places like Kierikki as centres for understanding our Ancestors and even to potentially share ancestral and traditional skills that are of high importance to reawaken in times of crisis like those we’re living nowadays. Last but not least, we tried to show in a more practical way how seriously brilliant our Forebears were, hopefully doing our small part in dismantling distorted mainstream perceptions about them.
On the other hand, we were there to live as closely as possible to the land and to each other, with a focus on Neolithic technology, relying heavily on the power of community to actually get things done.
It’s not like we were archaeologists trying to test an hypothesis through a scientific process… We were just regular human beings living as closely as possible to how our Ancestors used to, adapting to the circumstances as they would happen, going with the flow of daily routines, naturally relying heavily on community. Truth is, when you try to live like this in the Winter, even if only for a short time, you can really feel how important community is. There’s a fire to feed, wood to cut, food to prepare… can you imagine having to do it all by yourself? Me neither. Moreover, when it’s cold and dark outside, there’s nothing more nurturing than sit around the fire and just be together, telling stories, sharing food, singing songs… Community is key to human life, and we have definitely realized that even more strongly by the end of our week together.
I really hope you’ve enjoyed my first blog post about my wonderful week in Kierikki! In future posts, I’ll take you with me on the preparation journey and share how well each piece of clothing performed in the cold climate up in the North. I’ll also answer some of your questions and much more, so don’t go anywhere because I truly think you’ll like what is coming 😊
So much love, Filipa 🌙