Many people are seeking new ways to live a more historical life. Whether this is a hobby for you, or a direction to live in a more sustainable way, there are so many options for learning new things about old ways. If you want to build a historic hunting camp to use in the woods, there are places to learn these skills. If you would like to learn to cook meals over the fire, or food that our ancestors ate, there are cooks from around the world to teach you. If there is something that you want to learn that people did in the past, there are people in the modern world that do it. In this article, Living History and Re-enactment will be explained and directions to find others who create and recreate pieces of history, that test and use those pieces of history will be shown. Links to social media sites and videos will also be shared so that you can seek out the people who are doing the things you are interested in doing.
Experimental archaeology is one of the very practical methods of archaeological interpretation. It is a living analytical process used to re-create aspects in part or in whole, of ancient societies in order to test hypotheses or proposed interpretations and assumptions about that society. (1) So you are building a tool or implement that you believe through study was used in a certain way based on research and then you use it in the way that you studied.
Experimental archaeology has two distinct variants. The first is called historical re-enactment and it is an artificial re-creation of a past culture (or part of it) and the testing of all of the many theories about building construction, transport systems, weapons, metals, ceramics, use of fire and so on.
The second variant is known as living history, and it requires archaeologists, usually coupled with anthropologists, to find a similar modern group of people living in and under the same types of conditions of the ancient target group, and to live with, or at the very least, to observe and study that group in order to determine the hows, whats and whys that are unstated in the archaeological record.
Historical re-enactment is the most common form of experimental archaeology and by far the most profitable for researchers as tests can be repeated and small adjustments made in a suitably controlled manner to yield scientifically valid results.(2)
The topics that are covered on the internet range from the prehistoric through the 19th century, from stone tools to steam engines. If you do some digging and rabbit hole searches you are likely to find your interest out there.
Here are some great links where you can find ways to start your rabbit hole searches, they are broken into categories to make searching a little easier and descriptions have been added.
Vasile Diaconu is an archaeologist who specializes in prehistoric tools and metallurgy. His channel is relatively new, and some of the videos are not in English. Vasile Diaconu – Archaeologist
Hunt Primitive is a channel that looks into primitive hunting and discusses the making of prehistoric hunting tools. As a warning some of the videos show the actual hunting of animals with primitive methods. Hunt Primitive
Archaeology for Communities in the Highlands (ARCH) is a program that brings Archaeology to schools and libraries throughout the Scottish Highlands. Included are their direct website and YouTube channel. ARCH Website ARCH YouTube
There are any number of websites out there that will give you information about food history from nearly every culture on the planet. A few of them are included below.
ALHFAM Historic Foodways focuses on historic foods and cooking. ALHFAM is the Association for Living History, Farms and Agricultural Museums. ALHFAM Historic Foodways
Tasting History is a YouTube channel that focuses on a variety of cultural food history. The channel releases a new video every Tuesday. Tasting History
Building Primitive structures, and other historic construction has become somewhat of a trend recently. Below are just a few of the sites that can be found.
TA Outdoors is essentially an outdoors page, based in Britain, the men who put the page together also have some associated pages that focus on different types of Bushcraft. These guys have built a number of buildings from the medieval period. TA Outdoors
Primitive Life is another page that uses primitive tools to create a variety of different structures. Primitive Life
The links below include channels and groups that give a wide variety of options for living historically.
Townsends is a manufacturer of historic clothing, the company owner and staff are incredibly knowledgeable when it comes to historic living. Townsends makes a number of historic life videos from cooking to building. Townsends
UCD Centre for Experimental Archaeology and Material Culture is dedicated to experimental archaeology and shows a wide variety of videos and training. UCD
Northmen primarily focuses on Norse Culture, but also shows a variety of historic living in other cultures. Northmen
Fandabi Dozi is a channel that is focused on Bushcraft and the Scottish Highlands, the channel will show you everything from wrapping a great kilt, to making shoes from deerskin. Fandabi Dozi
The George Washington Foundation runs Historic Kenmore, and George Washington’s Ferry Farm in Fredericksburg, VA. They post videos on farm life, living history and archaeology. GW Foundation
George Washington’s Mount Vernon was George Washington’s home. The museum and staff offer a great number of videos and live video forums about life at Mount Vernon and cover everything from food to farming, to the plight of enslaved people at Mount Vernon. GW Mount Vernon
The Society for Creative Anachronism is a living history organization based in the world from the rise of Rome until 1600. The organization is broken into kingdoms that exist in much of the world. The members research and teach classes and demonstrations on subjects including; Fencing, Armored Combat, Archery, Thrown Weapons, Calligraphy, Illumination, Cooking, Heraldry and just about any medieval subject. SCA
Enjoy these links and find your way to new historical living adventures.