Last night we saw episode 5 of the 6 week series and the extinction of
the tribe is now an inevitability given their lack of condition and the
type of "work ethic" of those remaining (which I might add might be
entirely different in normal life).
Of the initial 20, 15 have left. 14 because in previous episodes either
by choice or for medical reasons. That meant the "tribe" had six members
at the start of the last episode. 3 men and 3 women. Of the men, they
could be divided into 2x "hunters" and 1x"Lazy". Of the women one is a
"organiser" and two are "lazy".
Both hunter males had clearly exhausted themselves hunting with
apparently no help or support from the rest. One hunter was forced out
for 21st century social reasons, the other is now ill. This is likely to
leave three women and one men left, of whom 75% are noticeably not
"doers" and e.g. are very prone to just do nothing or sleep in.
However, whilst there are clearly problems with lack of knowledge, it
appears to be the fundamental problem faced by the group is that they
were taken to a bit of waste land that was so unproductive that no one
could farm it, so it was allowed to turn wild and was then used a game
reserve. For example, last night after digging up one of the burdock
roots, Mike commented how small it was. JP, likewise commented how hard
the ground was. The lake itself appears to be a reservoir - which tend
to be placed in deep valleys. Productive lakes tend to be wide, shallow
& relatively constantly level, not narrow, deep & huge fluctuations in
height. (So, the lake edge was almost sterile mud with no plants!)
1. Having spoken to several members of the cast, it seems clear to me,
that even if they repeated the experiment with the best ADULT members of
the group, they would still struggle to survive the Autumn and would
have no chance making it through the winter. Therefore, I think that a
mesolithic tribe with children also would have struggled to survive
throughout the year in that area. So, I strongly doubt whether
Mesolithic people lived in areas like this Bulgarian game reserve.
Instead they must have lived in areas which are far more productive and
therefore would probably now be prime farmland.
2. Biggest problem faced by the group was "social". For the first week
or two they were largely ineffective regularly walking past obvious food
and treating it like a holiday camp and not a farm job. The group lacked
cohesion and so failed to work effectively as a group.
3. The group lacked the social means to oust "Lazy" members or to
distribute rations according to the member's actual benefit to the
tribe. Everyone supposedly got the same rations - although those who sat
around the camp where the food was stored appeared to have opportunities
to get more than others. The result was that those who did the most work
lost condition quickest and had to leave which unfortunately left a core
group of those who liked to conserve their calories by staying in bed.
However - from an evolutionary point of view - such people may be
important. Because if everyone works themselves to death in a period of
famine, then the whole tribe have lost condition and none of them are
fit enough to hunt or gather if the opportunity arises. So, a tribe with
a subset of lazy people may well survive a famine better.
4. Both hunting and gathering require experience to be successful and
bring in sufficient food.
5. HUNTING. There was no successful attack let alone kill of any large
animal. In contrast there were quite a few small kills mainly crayfish
caught in basket fish trap. It is therefore far easier to catch small
animals & other things like crayfish than large game like deer and boar.
Except for the fish traps, the only actual "kills" were entirely
6. The tribe only really started to bring in fruit & nuts when they all
focussed on one type of gathering as a group. Even then, the calories
from the food being harvested did not appear to offset the calories
expected getting the food. But the biggest problem was that some members
didn't actually spend much time working. This is partly explained by the
lack of food so they did not have energy to get more food. But some were
still working to the bitter end.
7. The big difference between Mesolithic people and modern ones, is that
Mesolithic people would know what a good area for harvesting looks like
and would have walked past this game reserve to find something much better.
8. Speaking to some members of the group, there was food when they
started but this quickly disappeared. So, it is clear that the group
were in competition with wild animals for the best fruits & nuts
(acorns) and so it appears what they eventually ended up eating was the
stuff birds and animals rejected.
9. It appears the food they had to utilise was only available for short
periods. So, they must also have tools techniques and experience and
know suitable areas where they could gather and store vast quantities of
seasonal nuts, fruits and berries. I also think that because the
fruiting periods are sometimes very short, they must have either had
ways to gather and store vast amounts or they must have found ways to
extend the season, perhaps finding two good areas where a higher one
fruits perhaps 2 weeks later.
Another way would be to gather hazelnuts or similar buts/fruits before
they are ripe and being gathered by animals/bird and find a way to ripen
them where they can be protected.
7. Two of the men ended up suffering with lung infections. I suspect
this was either the smoke or more likely something to do with the
thatching being used. This appears to be something worth researching.
8. Cordage is probably the most important material in the Mesolithic. It
was used to make clothes, baskets, structures, traps.
9. I only saw flint being used to cut up animals and to make "spoons".
It was far less important than I had imagined. However it must also have
been used to cut leather into strips and cut cordage.
10. Clothing was clearly very important. Somehow none of them "looked
right" when they first put them on, but soon "grew into them". I
understand at least one person altered their clothing to make it bigger.
It also became very important as it got colder.
11. Hairstyles. I still don't understand why humans grow long hair -
perhaps it makes ideal fishing line? Whatever the reason, hair was
either left to grow into a matted frizz or pleats. (Apparently both
french and normal). The mother and daughter pair seem to have "groomed"
each other this way.