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40 Years in Isolation

Talk about living off the grid! In 1936, Karp Lykov, a Russian of the Old Believers sect, escaped Soviet religious persecution by moving his family deep into the rugged Siberian taiga, near the border of Mongolia. They settled in a spot 150 miles from the nearest village and lived alone, cut off from the outside world until 1978. That's when a group of geologists, looking for a spot to land their helicopter, noticed what they believed to be a farm. Curious, they went to the cabin and found Lykov and his four adult children. The youngest two had never seen any person outside their own family. Over time, the geologists learned how the Lykov family survived all those years.

Isolation made survival in the wilderness close to impossible. Dependent solely on their own resources, the Lykovs struggled to replace the few things they had brought into the taiga with them. They fashioned birch-bark galoshes in place of shoes. Clothes were patched and repatched until they fell apart, then replaced with hemp cloth grown from seed.

The Lykovs had carried a crude spinning wheel and, incredibly, the components of a loom into the taiga with them—moving these from place to place as they gradually went further into the wilderness must have required many long and arduous journeys—but they had no technology for replacing metal. A couple of kettles served them well for many years, but when rust finally overcame them, the only replacements they could fashion came from birch bark. Since these could not be placed in a fire, it became far harder to cook. By the time the Lykovs were discovered, their staple diet was potato patties mixed with ground rye and hemp seeds.

Karp Lykov, then in his 80s, knew nothing of World War II or the moon landing. But he believed the news of satellites, because he had noticed that in the 1950s, “the stars began to go quickly across the sky.” The family was amazed by television, but tried to adhere to their religious beliefs about living simply. They were very grateful for salt, however, as they had none for decades. Read the astonishing tale of the Lykov family at Past Imperfect. Link -via Metafilter

A postscript to the story appeared in the news just last week. Link


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It is not the isolation that would bother me but the deprivation. Having to decide who lives and who dies of starvation is about the worst thing I can imagine.
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This is fascinating but so sad. This is what it will be like when civilization ends. Myself, I would rather die than suffer like this for decades.
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