10,000 B.C. Experimental Archaeology into the history of human folly…

Last night, having enjoyed my evening meal (lasagne, thank you for asking) prepared in my centrally heated house. I settled down with a chilled glass of wine to passively entertain myself before the all engrossing deity of evening activities, the television. Like many of us 21st century homo-sapiens, particularly armchair archaeologists, we observe from afar and from the comfort of our civilized and safe micro environments the goings on from around the world, the documentaries and the sit-coms. We can only imagine, if one can even get that far, what it would be like to actually be in the situations depicted in many.

While I got to stay comfortably snug, 20 other British volunteers were not (or were not several months ago depending on how long they actually filmed the thing) so lucky. Last night, of course, beckoned in the airing of the first episode in a new series on channel 5. I am not one usually to partake in reality T.V. I usually prefer instead my tack of announcing how much it is a waste of time at the expense of quality dramas or documentaries (I am a delight to have at parties). But, and it’s a big but (nudge… wink), this one mentioned archaeology. So, dear readers, I sacrificed myself for the betterment of…ehem… research and settled with the afore mentioned vino to pass my all-knowing cynicism on this pseudo-experiment with a film crew.

The 20 volunteers minus the two that dropped out within the first 24 hours.
The 20 volunteers minus the two that dropped out within the first 24 hours.

So, to give you the low-down, if you didn’t watch it yourself. 20 volunteers are taken to Bulgaria, which is said to be used because it’s similar to pre-historic Britain, but also probably has lots to do with production costs and the fact they’re less likely to be disturbed by random dog-walkers. They give up all their worldly possessions to “archaeologist and former Navy Seal Klint Janulis” who then proceeds to get them kitted out in the gear and camp of a prehistoric society of 20… except it’s already 19 as unfortunately the eldest of the group feints and is declared medically unfit for prehistoric action. Like an unwitting Christian admitting that they like candles and garden parties to the Emperor Nero, the volunteers were in for a unpleasant awakening to the harsh reality of their new situation. What followed was half-an-hour of deer-hacking, fly-bloating, maggoty, muddy shenanigans. In which one woman decided to eat a worn, straight from the soil with surprising eagerness…considering it was a live soil-covered worm and they had been there seemingly less than 24 hours.

It does get tough half-way through a day at a dig if you've forgotten your lunch... how many hungry archaeologists have resorted to such extreme measures?
It does get tough half-way through a day at a dig if you’ve forgotten your lunch… how many hungry archaeologists have resorted to such extreme measures?

The volunteers are supposed to ‘reflect modern Britain’ and include an electrician, firefighter, a family and a lorry driver et al. One thing is for certain, as we reach episode 2 things are certainly hitting a melodrama, reality T.V. epitomizing fever-pitch. There are disputes, tears, 3-day old maggoty deer meat and hungry, grumpy volunteers. Archaeology, however seems to be lacking. Despite the occasional cuts to the archaeologist in residence, the consensus seems to be that Mesolithic man knew what they were doing, they… and to be fair I wouldn’t… have any clue where to start.

Maybe I’ve come across a tiny wee bit scathing. After all, who am I to say that I would be any better? Come the apocalypse, left alone in the wasteland of human civilization as we know it, I’m sure I would succumb to hunger within the first 20 minutes and become scavenger food another 5 minutes after that.

If your planning on watching 10,000BC as a new way of bring experimental archaeology to the masses, you’ll be sorely disappointed. If you want to watch 45 minutes of the nature of human folly, mixed in with “I’m a celebrity” like eating habits and feuds then you’re in for a treat. Maybe, just maybe they’ll pull it back, but at the moment it it looks like they’re in dire straights.

Still quote of the series so far goes to this little gem: “Take the bum out and tie a knot in it.”

I think that sums it up nicely.

Emma pinxit

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