The Atlantic

Professor Caveman

Why Bill Schindler is teaching college students to live like early humans
Source: John Cuneo

“That’s my blood, not the deer’s,” said Eden Kloetzli, a senior at Washington College, in Maryland, as she gazed at the red liquid staining her palm. She and about a dozen other students were busy slicing and dicing four deer carcasses laid outside the school’s new archaeology laboratory. Making the task harder, the novice butchers were using tools that they had knapped themselves out of obsidian, basalt, and flint.

Their anthropology professor, Bill Schindler—who somehow looked ruggedly handsome despite the fact that he hadn’t shaved in days and was wearing an odd necklace made of seal bone, African baobab seeds, and beads cast from copper he had smelted himself—grinned. “With a simple flake that you can create in a second,” he said proudly, “you have transformed that deer into food for you, rather than just something to look at while you starve.” This is high praise, coming from Schindler, who says that fewer people have mastered basic survival skills today than at any other time in human history. Over the course of this semester-long class, Experimental Archaeology and Primitive Technology, Schindler’s students learn to build fires with wooden

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