Channel 5 viewers were recently gripped by TV’s latest immersive social experiment: 10,000 BC: Two Tribes. The show saw 24 average Brits flown out to the Bulgarian wilderness last summer and left to survive using only stone age tools and skills. What viewers probably did not know was that the show’s Stone Age expert was US Army veteran now Oxford University archaeology PhD student Klint Janulis. Oxford Mail reporter Pete Hughes spent the day with Klint at an Oxford University stone age hut in the woods just outside Oxford to find out just what it takes to be a caveman

Hidden deep in Oxfordshire woodland in a secret location lies a portal to a land that time forgot some 12,000 years ago – at least according to the Oxford University students who built it.

The Oxford Mail was granted access to this time machine only on the invitation of Klint Janulis, who as a former US Army Special Forces operator is a man whose trust we probably don’t want to betray.

We are here because Mr Janulis wants to teach the whole world about tribalism.

That is also the point of the Channel 5 show, 10,000 BC: Two Tribes, which he provided the expert advice on.

The programme shows us all how modern people, still basically form primitive tribes.

And dropping people into a Stone Age survival scenario in the Bulgarian wilderness, it turns out, is a great way to bring out their inner caveman or cavewoman.

“It is everywhere,” Mr Janulis enthuses, as we huddle around the fire, “our passion for sports teams or brand names – it’s all part of our tribalism.

“We don’t think our beliefs are tribal but they are: if you are rowing with the Oxford squad and say ‘we’re going to slam Cambridge’, that’s tribal.

“People in the Stone Age weren’t as primitive as we think, and we’re not nearly as sophisticated as we think we are.”

Mr Janulis, who has 14 years of military experience, is now studying for a PhD in “cognitive shifts in prehistory” at Oxford University – that basically means how human behaviour changed as we developed our culture. One great example is cured meat, he tells us, as he reaches from some dark-coloured scraps hanging over the fire that look like tattered leather.

“Curing meat would keep humans alive over winter, and food surplus changed human society.”

Once you have a stored supply of food, you don’t have to live hand-to-mouth; you can focus your energies on other things like developing better tools.

He shows us a hafted axe which he and his team have made and says: “To be able to make a hafted axe is a lifetime of learning.

“All these tools have an implied skill associated with them, much more than just ‘grab it and hit something with it’.”

The 24 men and women who were left to try to survive in the Bulgarian woods last summer were given tools, on the basis that they could not possibly learn to make their own in the few weeks they had out there, but they weren’t necessarily told how to use them in the best way.

“Our cast went at it experimentally,” Mr Janulis says, “they broke things, but they were also very adaptive – they came up with things that we hadn’t even thought of.”

The guinea pig stars of the show had to learn some very fundamental rules of Stone Age life over several weeks, but one day was quite enough for the Oxford Mail.

10,000 BC: Two Tribes is available on Channel 5’s online catch up service.