Estonian students find Iron Age life smoky and cold

Wed Feb 1, 2012 2:16pm EST
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By David Mardiste

ROUGE, Estonia (Reuters) - Ever wondered what it was like to endure an Iron Age winter?

Five students in the small Baltic state of Estonia, who have abandoned modern conveniences for a week in a replica wooden hut built on the site of an ancient hill fort, have discovered that Iron Age accommodation was mainly cold, dark and smoky.

"You can't heat and be in the building and after dark there is no light," said Kristiina Paavel, 24, one of the students.

"We tried the old method of burning a cinder of wood for light, but it gave too much smoke, so we will just go to sleep earlier tonight," she told Reuters.

Dressed in layers of dark woolen and felt clothes and covered with a sheepskin coat while she crochets, Paavel said there are some basic issues modern humans take for granted such as smokeless heating and light at night.

"We were worried about the cold weather and heating, but after this morning we feel a little more confident we can last the five days," Paavel said after the temperature fell to -25 degrees Celsius Monday.

The log hut's design was from before chimneys were in use and took two years to cut and assemble by hand. It sits on top of the foundations of an original Iron Age building excavated in 1955.

The five sleep on a single low platform covered with hay, sheepskin and cloth across the back wall of the building.   Continued...

<p>Students Maarja Lainevoog (L) and Kristin Otti warm themselves inside an Iron Age viking log house replica in Rouge February 1, 2012. REUTERS/Ints Kalnins</p>