Hometown: Exeter, UK
Profession: Prehistoric Leather Specialist
Dr. Theresa Emmerich Kamper is an avid practitioner of traditional living skills and primitive technology of all kinds and has tanned skins using traditional technologies for over twenty-five years. She originates from the state of Wyoming in the United States, where she was lucky enough to grow up as part of a family of outdoor enthusiasts. The vast tracks of wilderness surrounding her hometown allowed ample opportunity to practice and hone her practical skill sets.
Learning to tan was a natural offshoot of the attempt to use as much of the animal as possible and had the added bonus of producing a beautiful end product. Through much trial and error and with the support of very tolerant parents, Theresa learned to brain tan skins between the age of 12 and 13. Later interaction with other traditional tanners and excellent written information vastly improved the efficiency and quality of her tanning process.
Theresa has taught various tannage types such as fat tan, vegetable tan, alum taw and rawhide production to groups ranging from bush crafters to University students for the past nine years.
In addition to her main area of expertise in tanning technologies, she has also taught a wide range of traditional living skills, including the construction and use of traditional weapons, the use of plant and animal fibres, patterning and clothing construction, basketry, clay processing, pottery manufacture and firing, shelter construction and use, friction fire lighting and basic flint knapping and stone tool construction and use.
Theresa holds a master’s degree in Experimental Archaeology from the University of Exeter, as well as a PhD on the microscopic analysis of prehistoric processed skin artefacts. Her background includes an internship with the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, work with the Openarch project funded by the Culture Program of the European Union, where she was heavily involved in experimental work and public demonstrations at archaeological open air museums, giving international workshops, presenting at numerous conferences, consulting on television documentaries, co-authoring a chapter in Life-Cycle of Structures in Experimental Archaeology: an object biography approach with Sidestone Press. Her recently released book titled, Determining Prehistoric Skin Processing Technologies: the macro and microscopic characteristics of experimental samples, is also available from Sidestone Press.
Dr. Emmerich Kamper is currently an honorary research fellow with the University of Exeter, in the United Kingdom and teaches practical courses across Europe, North America and the Near East on various tannage technologies as well as continuing to engage in research projects with a broad array of museum and academic institutions. Alone was an opportunity to put a lifetime of learning into everyday use in a long-term living situation, and was an incredible learning experience!
Here are the ten items Theresa selected to bring on her survival journey to Grizzly Mountain:
1. Sleeping bag
5. Food ration
6. Ferro rod
7. Snare wire
8. Fishing line and hooks
9. Bow and arrows