A Russian Experimental Hermit

“A Russian man is taking the chance to escape the rat race to the extreme – by living like a 10th century hermit in the snow-covered forests of Russia.
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Pavel Sapozhnikov, 24, from Moscow will spend a total of eight months living like his ancestors did on a replica of an ancient farm as part of a social experiment.
He is only allowed to leave the fenced-off area of the farm to hunt and gather food, is banned from any kind of communication, and can only use authentic tools from ancient Russia.
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The farm is situated in a forest clearing around 50 miles north of the Russian capital.
It features a house, a well, hayloft and smokehouse, plus a separate toilet, and bread oven. Sapozhnikov additionally has pens for chickens and goats.
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The experiment is part of a project called ‘Hero’ and was set up by events manager Alexei Ovcharenko from agency Ratobor.

The theory behind the experiment is ‘to trace the social and psychological changes in personality and learn how important the support of others is to modern humans.’
With help from expert archaeologist, Alexander Fetisov, the farm was built using only materials and techniques that would have been used by ancient Russians.

Sapozhnikov must also furnish his home in the same way. This includes fire lights that burn on linseed oil, wooden beds, animal fur clothes and bedding and a calendar scratched into the wall of the house. Construction on the farm began at the start of 2012, and Sapozhnikov moved in at the start of September 2013; the project is expected to run until May. During this time, temperatures in the region can drop as low as minus 30°C and this time period was deliberately chosen to highlight exactly how difficult Russian ancestors would have found living and hunting in the conditions.

Ovcharenko added that eight months is long enough for the experiment to yield results, but not too long that it will ‘pathologically endanger’ Sapozhnikov. At the start of the project, Sapozhnikov was given the chance to document a day in the life on the farm, using a camera and notepad, and this was posted on the project’s blog.
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According to this blog, Sapozhnikov spends the morning milking his goats, preparing his chickens, collecting eggs and eating breakfast, he then chops wood for the fire and collects water from the well. The rest of the day is spent either hunting for food, or carrying out manual labour on the farm. This includes insulating the house with manure. As part of the project, Sapozhnikov is only allowed to leave the fenced off area to hunt and gather food.
He was given a small amount of harvested food at the beginning of the project, but this supply was not designed to last the length of the experiment.

Sapozhnikov is banned from any form of communication, except during open days, once a month, when a medical expert and project leader visit him and check on his progress.
Even when hunting, Sapozhnikov is forbidden from communicating with anyone he encounters. The only way Sapozhnikov can abandon the project is if his mental or physical health is at serious risk, or his life is under threat.

However, if he contracts a common illness, such as a cold, or other diseases, such as a lung infection, Sapozhnikov will be required to carry on – as his ancestors would have done.
Sapozhnikov became a festival volunteer with Ratobor in 2010 and from May to September that year, he lived in a reconstruction of an ancient settlement, dubbed ‘beta’ for the current experiment.

He is single and was previously a student at Moscow University. To prepare for the mission, Sapozhnikov spent months learning how to prepare animals, including chickens.
He also became skilled in using ancient tools and familiarised himself with ancient fire-building and washing techniques. For example, to produce hot water, Sapozhnikov places stones in his fire stove until they are glowing, before putting these stones into a bucket of cold water. He then uses this water to wash his clothes, cooking utensils, his home, and his body – although because water is scarce, clothes and body washing is carried out ‘infrequently.’
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Ratobor was set up in 2006 and has completed similar events based on historical experiences.”

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2546660/Could-YOU-live-Middle-Ages-24-year-old-spends-eight-months-living-freezing-Russian-wilderness-medieval-hermit.html#ixzz2rvhClCIK

See also http://rbth.ru/society/2013/09/28/volunteer_will_spend_winter_in_the_medieval_era_30061.html
http://www.ratobor.com/alone.html [in Russian]

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