I wasn’t entirely sure what I was getting myself into when I signed up for this class. Ostensibly it promised to be an exploration of the tools and techniques used by early man to accomplish everyday life, but practically I looked at it as more of a series on apocalypse preparation. It’s been exactly what I imagined: the chance to weekly attempt some absurdly anachronistic activity in the name of hands-on-history.
What’s more, I think it can be looked at as a terrific study of sociology, rather unintentionally, in a dozen small ways. Take for example our week 3 attempt at creating mud bricks. Superficially, this was just another agreeably antediluvian activity to pass an afternoon, but more deeply, it was a series of puzzles that must be solved by a score of people with little experience working together, and none whatsoever working with clay bricks. We had the raw materials laid out before us, and had to collectively apportion ourselves out to the various tasks at hand, working together to produce primitive construction supplies. A handful of people set to work constructing molds (and in doing so, solving the puzzle of how to efficiently use our lumber); others felt their skills would be best used tromping in the muck. Some were saddled with the task of digging out an uncooperative ditch, and in one of my favorite instances, a handful of people were set to gathering water from the adjacent vending kiosk. The bathroom inside did not, of course, have a conveniently placed spigot, so we wound up with a rather involved apparatus of sinks, boards, exhumed tubes, and garbage bags all attempting to funnel water into our little bucket. It was really a marvel of engineering. I was quite proud.
On the whole, everyone did an admirable job of pulling their weight, and sure enough, we wound up with some fine looking clay bricks, stamped no less, to be constructed into nice little abode. I aim to remember the technique, just in case.