Anyone who has tried rubbing two sticks together knows that it is not the easiest way to start a fire. However, that is just what participants will learn from an upcoming demonstration at Big Bone Lick State Park.
Northern Kentucky University alumnus and park naturalist Todd Young will present the first of three Primitive Skills Days at Big Bone Lick March 24. For the first Primitive Skills Day, Young will demonstrate how to start a fire using the bow drill method.
The bow drill method uses four pieces of wood: a hearth board, a drill, a handhold and a bow. The hearth board is a piece of wood which lies flat on the ground. The hearth board has a notch in it, which the drill fits into. The handhold is, as its name implies, held in place by hand and secures the drill in place in the hearth board. The bow, which is similar to the type of bow used to shoot an arrow, rotates the drill in the hearth board to create friction and generate heat.
“It is a novelty,” Young said, “but it has practical applications.”
According to NKU’s Anthropology Coordinator Sharlotte Neely, the skills Young will be demonstrating provide hands-on applications for students studying anthropology.
“If they’re going to study people still using these skills, or people in the past who used these skills, it’s useful to know what you’re talking about,” Neely said.
Introduction to Archaeology, Archaeology Methods and Theory and Origins of Civilization are some specific courses that students might find relate to the topics covered during Primitive Skills Days, according to professor Judy Voelker.
For individuals not involved in the anthropology program, the demonstrations are also good for learning survival skills.
“It’s nice to know how to build a shelter or a fire if you need to,” Neely said.
Big Bone Lick will host two more Primitive Skills Days after the one in March. A May 19 Primitive Skills Day will focus on primitive weaponry, and another on Aug. 4 will feature a presentation for making wooden bowls.
In addition to Primitive Skills Days, Big Bone Lick will host a Survive the Wild class in June for individuals who want to learn how to survive outdoors by relying on resources available in the wild.
“[Young] loves being outdoors,” Voelker said. “And he’s an excellent teacher. He’s passionate about what he does.”
The Primitive Skills Days and the Survive the Wild class are all free and open to all ages. No registration is required for the events. The upcoming fire starting demonstration will begin at 1 p.m. March 24 at Big Bone Lick’s visitor center. Participants are welcome to stay after the demonstration to discuss and work on projects involving other prehistoric technologies, such as bone tools, flint-knapping and atlatls.
According to Young, individuals interested in attending the demonstrations do not need to be knowledgeable in the skills being discussed.
For more information about Primitive Skills Days, or for a full list of upcoming demonstrations at Big Bone Lick, contact Todd Young at email@example.com.