Estonian Students Reenact Iron Age Life

05 Feb

A group of five Estonian college students have decided to reenact their own private Iron Age, abandoning any and every modern technology. So far they’ve discovered that life in ancient Estonia was not easy.

Reuters was there to interview the students. “You can’t heat and be in the building and after dark there is no light,” says Kristiina Paavel. “We tried the old method of burning a cinder of wood for light, but it gave too much smoke, so we will just go to sleep earlier tonight.”

The Estonian Iron Age lasted from about 500 BC to 450 AD. Settlements were mostly built around naturally protective features and revolved around small patriarchal communities. This was a transitional period for the area. During this time, new types of religious artifacts and rituals appearing, agriculture was spreading and becoming more important, and the social structure was starting to stratify. This stratification, together with rising ethnic boundaries, would set the framework for later nation-states. All these changes were probably a result of greater communication with outside peoples, especially the rising Roman Empire. While Rome never extended its dominion to Estonia, its influence on trade and communications can easily be seen in the artifacts and social changes.

The students have been living in a recreation of a Iron Age hut since the project began. The floor is made of packed earth. Heat comes from a small open fire in one corner, but without a working chimney (they had not been developed yet) the room quickly fills with smoke. No windows adorn the walls nor is there a solid door. The five students all sleep on one single platform near the back of the room and use thick wool, felt, and sheepskin coats to keep warm.

“Although some of the Iron Age life is romantic, it is more comfortable in the modern world… Things I miss from the modern would would be a chimney, toilet paper and electricity for light.”

More pictures of their experiment can be found with the Reuters report or here at the International Business Times.

Sources: Reuters, International Business TimesEstonia.euEstonia: Identity and Independence by Jean-Jacques Subrenat, Histrodamus, Archaeomineralogy by George Robert Rapp, Wiki: Iron Age,

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Posted by on February 5, 2012 in Anthropology, History


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