When you’re out in the backcountry, a durable water-tight container is a top priority for survival. Even a simple cup or jug will permit you to carry and store water to stay hydrated, rather than being forced to seek out a lake or stream every time you’re thirsty. Better yet, if the container is fire-proof, you can use it for cooking and boiling. This in turn helps prevent serious illness from water-borne pathogens.

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Most of us think ahead and carry a metal canteen or bottle as part of our survival kits, but what can you do if you’re stuck in the wilderness without a container? One answer is to consider traditional or so-called primitive methods. Civilizations around the world have been making pottery for millenia, and forming water-tight and fireproof vessels from simple clay.

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The following 4-minute short film, Earth and Fire by Solpin Films, shows how primitive pottery-maker Kelly Magleby used traditional Anasazi techniques to produce a wide array of clay vessels.

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The Anasazi were a Native American tribe thought to be the ancestors of the modern Pueblo tribe. The group inhabited Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona from about A.D. 200 to 1300. So, Magleby headed out into the backcountry of southern Utah with a knife and buckskin to use the same resources the ancient Native Americans did. After 10 days, she had produced the Anasazi-style pottery seen here:

While most of us wouldn’t go so far as making dye and brushing intricate designs onto the pottery in a survival situation, it’s still an impressive skill. In the days long before mass-produced plastic bottles and metal canteens, these Native Americans used natural materials to create beautiful and functional containers.

These methods are equally effective today, so next time you’re outdoors, consider experimenting with river clay on the campfire — or at least don’t take your bottle for granted.

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