35 votes

You must time-travel to any time before 1799 and never come back. Where do you go?

The time-travel is mandatory, and you must go to any point in Earth history before 1799. You cannot time-travel back. When do you go to, and why?

Inspired by a similar post.

33 comments

  1. [4]
    Silbern
    Link
    Hawaii, before western contact. It was probably one of the nicest places to live in the world at the time; food shortages were very rare, disease was pretty much non-existent, general health was...

    Hawaii, before western contact. It was probably one of the nicest places to live in the world at the time; food shortages were very rare, disease was pretty much non-existent, general health was very good, and wars were generally not too frequent (though they absolutely did happen). The climate was very livable even without modern amenities, and I can only imagine how spectacular Oahu would have looked back then vs what it does today. There are of course a lot of downsides to this; Hawaiian society pre-contact had a very rigid social hierarchy, and many of the leaders were pretty cruel to the commoners they ruled over - but given that those were fairly common no matter where you went, I think Hawaii's many other advantages would've made it pretty ideal.

    America right after the revolution, assuming you were white, would also have been a pretty solid place to live; land was cheap and plentiful, jobs were abundant in the growing economies, and you would've had a pretty high degree of freedom. Japan would certainly be extremely interesting, but it was very dangerous in the feudal era...

    29 votes
    1. [3]
      jacoblambda
      Link Parent
      My problem with going back in time anywhere nice and isolated like this is that you'd be effectively bringing the apocalypse to any society you interact with thanks to all the potential diseases...

      My problem with going back in time anywhere nice and isolated like this is that you'd be effectively bringing the apocalypse to any society you interact with thanks to all the potential diseases we have on our persons that those isolated people would have no immunity to at all.

      10 votes
      1. [2]
        moocow1452
        Link Parent
        This changes the meta. You could go back to any point in human history and bring your future germs with you? Even if you die, you could change history by taking a chunk of the population with you.

        This changes the meta. You could go back to any point in human history and bring your future germs with you? Even if you die, you could change history by taking a chunk of the population with you.

        1 vote
        1. jacoblambda
          Link Parent
          Yep. I don't think I'd be extremist enough to will that onto human history and die in the middle of a plague though. That's the other point which is that you would suffer all the diseases that...

          Yep. I don't think I'd be extremist enough to will that onto human history and die in the middle of a plague though. That's the other point which is that you would suffer all the diseases that have either been eradicated or have since evolved and the immunity for the modern variant doesn't work on the old version.

          Fun times and plague all around for you and everyone involved with where you go.

          2 votes
  2. [4]
    patience_limited
    (edited )
    Link
    I'm in /u/eve's situation, only worse - I'm an old woman. Given the entirety of history to choose, for practical purposes, I'd stay right here, with soft lavatory paper (h/t Terry Pratchett),...

    I'm in /u/eve's situation, only worse - I'm an old woman. Given the entirety of history to choose, for practical purposes, I'd stay right here, with soft lavatory paper (h/t Terry Pratchett), reliable birth control, antibiotics, vaccines, relatively safe surgical childbirth, and some legal protection. I can own property, not be property.

    However, assuming that I could have the gender issues taken away, I'd go for 9th Century Khazaria. It was a yeasty, cosmopolitan place and time, with comparatively high literacy, religious freedom, multinational trade, a relatively egalitarian society, and many opportunities to exchange information. Khazaria sat at the crossroads of Eastern and Western civilizations, and for a brief time, partook of the best of both.

    Footnote: Don't do a Google search on Khazars unless you want to explore a deep, often toxic well of arguments about the ancestry of Ashkenazi Jews. More information about Khazaria can be found here.

    23 votes
    1. [2]
      Wulfsta
      Link Parent
      Aha! I've been wondering how to spell this since some stranger at a coffee shop saw me reading House of Leaves and, after talking about the book for a while, recommended Dictionary of the Khazars...

      Aha! I've been wondering how to spell this since some stranger at a coffee shop saw me reading House of Leaves and, after talking about the book for a while, recommended Dictionary of the Khazars (please tell me this has nothing to do with the toxicity mentioned in your footnote).

      4 votes
      1. patience_limited
        Link Parent
        Though I haven't read Dictionary of the Khazars, I don't think it's got anything to do with the long-running themes of speculation about European Jewish history and ancestry. Particularly since...

        Though I haven't read Dictionary of the Khazars, I don't think it's got anything to do with the long-running themes of speculation about European Jewish history and ancestry.

        Particularly since the advent of DNA-based population analysis, there's been an attempt to claim that most Ashkenazi Jews aren't really of Semitic origin at all, but rather converted Turkic Khazars who migrated to Eastern Europe after the 10th Century conquest by Rus armies. This has fed some anti-Zionist and anti-Jewish polemics.

        There's substantial documentary evidence that Khazaria was a place of refuge for Jews from all over Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Mediterranean, and that the Khazarian Khagans (royalty) converted to Judaism in the 9th Century. But Moslems and Christians also settled among the pagan nomadic tribes there, and the whole mixture coalesced into a loosely bounded nation. The DNA analyses have been called into question because the existence of any distinctively "Khazar" modern population is in doubt.

        5 votes
    2. eve
      Link Parent
      Ah what a cool time/place! I haven't heard of it before, it's fun to learn something new. And yeah time travels cool and all but usually you have to be of the male persuasion for it to work out. I...

      Ah what a cool time/place! I haven't heard of it before, it's fun to learn something new. And yeah time travels cool and all but usually you have to be of the male persuasion for it to work out. I guess that's just a nit picky thing to point out in a theoretical thread about time travel but alas, it was the first thing I thought of.

      2 votes
  3. [4]
    eve
    Link
    If I ABSOLUTELY had to probably 1799, just so I'd be the closest to rights and freedom. Not to like out myself but I'm a.) a woman and b.) mixed. And probably look ambiguous enough that people...

    If I ABSOLUTELY had to probably 1799, just so I'd be the closest to rights and freedom. Not to like out myself but I'm a.) a woman and b.) mixed. And probably look ambiguous enough that people would be like nah she help. But if I went back with my very white boyfriend we can go wherever he wants and we can pretend I'm his servant lol.

    20 votes
    1. Staross
      Link Parent
      Thinking about it most of us wouldn't be able to speak the language, integrate or earn a living... become homeless or throne in jail, or die of dysentery before a month is past.

      Thinking about it most of us wouldn't be able to speak the language, integrate or earn a living... become homeless or throne in jail, or die of dysentery before a month is past.

      5 votes
    2. zara
      Link Parent
      I am also female and mixed, but I am not white passing, so I'm not sure where I could go and still be relatively safe and healthy. :/

      I am also female and mixed, but I am not white passing, so I'm not sure where I could go and still be relatively safe and healthy. :/

      5 votes
  4. Litmus2336
    (edited )
    Link
    For pure humor factor I would choose to go to Botany Bay during James Cook's landing and act like I shipwrecked. If I play things off convincingly perhaps I could get a spot in a museum.

    For pure humor factor I would choose to go to Botany Bay during James Cook's landing and act like I shipwrecked. If I play things off convincingly perhaps I could get a spot in a museum.

    11 votes
  5. [2]
    Comment deleted by author
    Link
    1. Staross
      Link Parent
      Or just fuck them and spread your genes !

      Or just fuck them and spread your genes !

      2 votes
  6. cardigan
    Link
    I'd go to live with the Roanoke colony, and subsequently disappear with them.

    I'd go to live with the Roanoke colony, and subsequently disappear with them.

    9 votes
  7. [3]
    Akir
    Link
    As a queer who is not in the best of health, this doesn't leave me with much hope for my life in any particular time or place. Although it would be fun to do my own version of Ascendance of a...

    As a queer who is not in the best of health, this doesn't leave me with much hope for my life in any particular time or place.

    Although it would be fun to do my own version of Ascendance of a Bookworm, I'm afraid that not having any magic to nearly murder nobles with will be a major roadblock to my success.

    8 votes
    1. [2]
      moocow1452
      Link Parent
      Could just use a period appropriate knife like a normal person. Those can nearly murder people.

      I'm afraid that not having any magic to nearly murder nobles with will be a major roadblock to my success.

      Could just use a period appropriate knife like a normal person. Those can nearly murder people.

      4 votes
      1. krg
        Link Parent
        Or just sneeze on them. You probably have some novel virus they're not prepared for. note: I don't know how health works.

        Or just sneeze on them. You probably have some novel virus they're not prepared for.

        note: I don't know how health works.

        3 votes
  8. [7]
    moocow1452
    Link
    Assuming I'm not going alone and we can bring stuff, let's just completely twist up history and go back to prehumanity, start over from the beginning, maybe make civilization better this time...

    Assuming I'm not going alone and we can bring stuff, let's just completely twist up history and go back to prehumanity, start over from the beginning, maybe make civilization better this time around. Probably not, but it's an opportunity.

    Just me, I wouldn't enjoy it as much but I would at least look the part in Renaissance Italy, can talk philosophy at some point, get by on a trade, and maybe spike the concept of mass capitalism from existence? Or get a plague.

    7 votes
    1. [5]
      Loire
      Link Parent
      How exactly are you going to make a better civilization stick from prehumanity within your human lifespan, civilizational changes occur on a regular basisfrom century to century?

      How exactly are you going to make a better civilization stick from prehumanity within your human lifespan, civilizational changes occur on a regular basisfrom century to century?

      5 votes
      1. [4]
        moocow1452
        Link Parent
        By virtue of a civilization starting before any others with all that we learned about working with the world and sustainable development, I think there's a good chance that present day Earth would...

        By virtue of a civilization starting before any others with all that we learned about working with the world and sustainable development, I think there's a good chance that present day Earth would be in a better shape in that scenario than the one that came about in ours. I could be completely wrong in that case, and human is going to human, but at least I gave it a shot.

        6 votes
        1. [3]
          Loire
          Link Parent
          Curious. Do you feel as if Mesopotamia or the Indus Valley Civilization play a big part in how our modern civilization acts today?

          Curious.

          Do you feel as if Mesopotamia or the Indus Valley Civilization play a big part in how our modern civilization acts today?

          2 votes
          1. [2]
            moocow1452
            Link Parent
            I am really, really shooting from the hip, but in that their technology and social structure was built upon and used today, I would say they were exceptionally influencial. If even a technology...

            I am really, really shooting from the hip, but in that their technology and social structure was built upon and used today, I would say they were exceptionally influencial. If even a technology like writing was available from the beginning of human civilization and as widespread as it was today, it would be a massive boon to the study of humanity and have incredible consiquences for our history.

            4 votes
            1. Loire
              Link Parent
              I feel this one actually. You would have to perfect safe storage though to avoid the various lootings, burnings, and destruction that would occur over the next 6000 years. Perhaps chiseled stone...

              If even a technology like writing was available from the beginning of human civilization and as widespread as it was today, it would be a massive boon to the study of humanity and have incredible consiquences for our history.

              I feel this one actually. You would have to perfect safe storage though to avoid the various lootings, burnings, and destruction that would occur over the next 6000 years. Perhaps chiseled stone burried in places you know would eventually get excavated?

              3 votes
    2. Adys
      Link Parent
      Same. I feel like the earlier you go, the more interesting it might be. Going with modern knowledge (especially if you're well-versed in math, physics and some practical skills) back to early...

      Same. I feel like the earlier you go, the more interesting it might be. Going with modern knowledge (especially if you're well-versed in math, physics and some practical skills) back to early agricultural society would be such a ridiculous jump.

      3 votes
  9. Ephemere
    Link
    I think I'd enjoy going back to Rome during the reign of perhaps Trajan or Hadrian, so I could wander around and at least see what everything looked like during a time of relative magnificence....

    I think I'd enjoy going back to Rome during the reign of perhaps Trajan or Hadrian, so I could wander around and at least see what everything looked like during a time of relative magnificence.

    Not that I'm really laboring under any delusions over how long I might last there. Not being able to communicate would probably lead to a swift bad end, assuming that other disease didn't first. Though maybe I'd manage some brief sympathy by virtue of my extremely well crafted and unusual clothing.

    If I actually wanted to survive I imagine england in 1799 would probably be ideal, I could probably do some modest development involving electricity which could manage an income.

    7 votes
  10. [2]
    krg
    Link
    I'd probably go back and hang with Jesus (if the historical Jesus existed, anyway) and try to weasel my way into becoming an apostle (related). Or jam with Bach. Or get eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    I'd probably go back and hang with Jesus (if the historical Jesus existed, anyway) and try to weasel my way into becoming an apostle (related).

    Or jam with Bach.

    Or get eaten by a Tyrannosaurus Rex.

    6 votes
    1. envy
      Link Parent
      Yes, Jesus most likely existed. Good luck finding him, however.

      Yes, Jesus most likely existed. Good luck finding him, however.

      5 votes
  11. [2]
    Greg
    Link
    Based on my somewhat limited knowledge, Ancient Athens seems appealing as long as I could figure out a way around the language barrier. The openness to competing schools of thought, the...

    Based on my somewhat limited knowledge, Ancient Athens seems appealing as long as I could figure out a way around the language barrier. The openness to competing schools of thought, the mathematics, the basic concept of experimentation all seem to lay a foundation to make use of modern knowledge and understanding. Even without every detail, having a receptive audience (or, perhaps even better, one skeptical but open minded enough to try for themselves) who could investigate the building blocks of technology could realistically jump us ahead by thousands of years in a few generations.

    Germ theory, microscopes, heavier than air flight, Newton's laws, steam engines, standardised components, boat propellors, the bicycle - all concepts that are phenomenally difficult to discover from first principles but relatively easy to verify and expand on after even a basic description. It would be the work of decades, not days, but just knowing the possibilities and the shape of the problem could easily be enough to make amazing things happen.

    5 votes
    1. patience_limited
      Link Parent
      There's the little problem that ancient Greece had almost as many slaves as citizens - I wouldn't play with those odds.

      There's the little problem that ancient Greece had almost as many slaves as citizens - I wouldn't play with those odds.

      3 votes
  12. [2]
    Eric_the_Cerise
    Link
    Two fun works of fiction come to mind. Lest Darkness Fall, where a historian finds himself back in time at a perfect moment to prevent the Dark Ages in Europe ... and The Man From Earth, not...

    Two fun works of fiction come to mind. Lest Darkness Fall, where a historian finds himself back in time at a perfect moment to prevent the Dark Ages in Europe ... and The Man From Earth, not time-travel, but about a human who claims to be immortal and born around 14,000 years ago.

    My choice depends a lot on what—if any—gear I get to take, and if I must go alone.

    That said, though, I would be very tempted to go back to prehistoric human Era, around the end of the last ice age, or avoid humans altogether and jump back 3-4 million years, somewhere in the Pliocene.

    Either way, devote the rest of my life to leaving some kind of evidence of my existence and knowledge that survives to the modern era, just to fuck up all the current theories about the development of humanity.

    5 votes
    1. mrbig
      Link Parent
      You can take anything a regular human being has access to, and that you are able to carry yourself.

      My choice depends a lot on what—if any—gear I get to take, and if I must go alone.

      You can take anything a regular human being has access to, and that you are able to carry yourself.

      1 vote
  13. Autoxidation
    Link
    How prepared am I allowed to be? I'd be very tempted to go back millions of years and see how ecosystems and animals were different or study major geologic events.

    How prepared am I allowed to be? I'd be very tempted to go back millions of years and see how ecosystems and animals were different or study major geologic events.

    4 votes