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Alaska Winter Survival From A Prehistoric Perspective

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Magdalenian tools

Microliths were added to Late Magdalenian bone tools like these, including harpoons and projectile points. DEA/G. Dagli Orti/De Agostini/Getty Images

In this short essay, I am going to describe what I think I would need to survive the winter. The tools, technologies, and nutritional food in order to not only survive but to thrive. It is not my opinion but a matter of fact that it can be done and has been done. My main references will be from the Otzi Ice Man article with some variations to include known plans that have existed in North American in some form for thousands of years. I will detail the clothing of layers, foods, dual-purpose hunting gear, and protection along with the use of materials to transport embers and create fire. A small description of my shelter to provide warmth and protection from the elements. 
Oldowan Tools

One of the earliest examples of stone tools found in Ethiopia. Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

First, I’m going to discuss food items to ensure I have a diet rich in animal fat and calories to enable my body to properly keep warm. Shivering, and our hair elevating it’ self helps to keep us warm when cold. However cold conditions also burn to allot of calories and this means we must eat a higher amount to ensure our body can perform at the optimal condition. I will first set up to gather animal fat from fish, bear, and moose. The meat of these will be dried and preserved. I will trade the excess meat that I can not preserve and carry with other tribes for whale fat that can last a long time. I will also trade for local grains and fungi to help keep my body healthy for medicinal purposes. Conks will be collected to use as anti-vials and to cover any wounds to prevent them from getting infected.
Aurignacian Tools

An Aurignacian blade shown from three angles. Didier Descouens/Wikimedia Commons/CC BY-SA 4.0

Important gear must be constructed, and a pack frame will need to create in order to carry my extra food on days I am not able to find fish or game to eat. The frame will be of heavy construction and will have extra lashings secured on the outside to enable equipment to be secured to the outside of the pack. The pack will be made from moose hide and will durable and weatherproofed by oiling down the outside facing of the hides with leftover moose and bear fat that I will boil and cool to remove the oily paste. This will be rubbed over all of the outsides of the large pack and be left to dry/again the sun and then repeated several times to ensure it is 100% waterproof. The left override will be turned in waterproof bags that can be secured to the outside of the pack and to be worn underneath my clothing to keep the water from freezing during the coldest time of winter.
Acheulean Tools

An Acheulean handaxe from Swakscombe, Kent, now held in the collections of the British Museum. CM Dixon/Print Collector/Getty Images

My clothing will be made of bear and hides with the fur this present from both animals. The moose hide with being tanned and then oiled on both sides to provide protection from scrapes or other injuries with the moose hair on the outside layer. The bear hides will be tanned and oil but with the out, lawyers oiled numerous times to give it a higher level of waterproofing. The fur will be formed into an interlayer of warmth to include pants, shoe booties up to my knees, and a large parka to include a large hood with drawstrings. Leftover pieces to be used to create a skull cap, and then a hat of fur that covers my whole face except for my eyes. The grass will be inserted into my boots with extra set aside to be used to add insulation when I feel a draft in my inner clothing onto my skin. Mittens will be constructed that cover my whole hand and will be long that reach up to my elbow joint. My coat will overlap this area and this style will provide additional dexterity.
Fourthly there are the tools of hunting and survival. Fire making tools, supplies to include leaves, and conks for carrying embers over long distances. Strips of bark from the birch tree and the sap of the tree. Any additional conks will also be collected and stored. Flints and additional fire starter materials will be collected to ensure warmth from the fire can be guaranteed on the coldest nights of a long winter. (Oeggl and Handley 2003)
Neolithic tools

Jadeite axes from the Neolithic Period in central Europe. Ashmolean Museum/Heritage Images/Getty Images

Fifthly my shelter will be of a multilayered construction of logs placed in recessive areas that I can backfill with dirt with the upper roof are made from hides secured in a fashion to ensure a hole vent to allow smoke to escape out of the structure. Rocks brought in from the local river will be of a certain size and a rounded shape to ensure they can be heated from the fire and placed around my body to keep me warm while sleeping. Grass from any open fields will be collected and shaped into bedding that will be covering the ground floor area and then covered with bear rugs I have collected over my numerous hunting seasons. I will also dig holes into the ground that are deep enough and penetrate to the outside of the structure where they will stay frozen yet protected from wild animals. The structure will not be very big and will be sunken into the ground as much as possible. As the snow begins to fall, I will ensure it is placed around the outside of the structure for added insulation. The inside will have a slightly tipped peak with only hides showing on the inside and the outside will be lined with small long logs adding support in a grid fashion to enable the structure to hold several hundred pounds of snow.
the discovered flint artifacts

Stone tools found in a neanderthal flint workshop discovered in Poland. A. Wiśniewski/Nauka w Polsce

Finally, my survival toolkit of tools will be made from rocks and volcanic obsidian. My handles will come from birch trees and strips of the leather hide will be used for comfort and grips. I will have a bow with arrowheads made for the obsidian. My ax head will be made from local rock and if possible, I will have traded for a copper head fashioned in the old European style as found from the Otzi the Ice Man. This will give me greater accuracy and a sharper arrowhead point. The copper ax head will be used to create a sharp blade to be used for protection and hide processing. (Oeggl and Handley 2003)
In conclusion, the tools, technologies, and nutritional food in order to not only survive but to thrive can be gathered and organized for survival. This equipment, supplies, and shelter should allow me to survive the coldest temperatures and my gear will allow mobility for hunting or escaping from an attack in case unforeseen problems arise. My diet of high fat and limited grains will give me the calories to stay warm and to hunt wild game and fish in the winter season. My waterproofed clothing will not only keep me warm but waterproofed due to the oily outer layers. The materials used to make my clothing also blend into the natural environment with camouflage that helps me with hunting and evading human or animal predators.
References Cited:
Dickson, J., Oeggl, K., & Handley, L.
2003 The Iceman Reconsidered
Scientific American, 288: 70-79.
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References CitedDickson, J., Oeggl, K., & Handley, L.2003 The Iceman ReconsideredScientific American, 288: 70-79.