OK, I openly admit that this is a fantasy question, but one which my fellow historians and engineers might find enjoyable to play with.
The premise: You’re allowed to take one ship, and only one ship, back in time to say 300AD. Before you leave, you’re allowed to spend as much time as you want putting together the perfect crew - a perfect mix of knowledge, talents, and genders - because you won’t be coming back. You’re allowed to take a maximum of say, 5,000 people - so be sure to pick a very wide and broad genetic spectrum OK? You’re allowed to stock your ship with absolutely any machining tools you want. You can take any amount of different backhoes, and planes, and heavy graders - any sort of industrial lathes - you name it, you can take it, just so long as it will all fit into one ship.
The goal: You’re not going to wipe out the Romans, OK? We’re gonna plonk you down in the Rhine somewhere. Your goal is to establish contact with the Roman Empire via peaceful envoys and let THEM come to you over the alps and all that stuff. Sure, they’ll be blown out when they get there, but eh? It’s a fantasy.
OK, now that we’ve got the premise and the goal out of the way, my dearest friend who is a fantastic mechanical engineer, well we got to playing with this fantasy and here’s our rudimentary thought processes, but we’d love your input now too. Buddy and I kinda played this theory out… we’d take an Aircraft Carrier - say, the USS Carl Vinson or any Nimitz class ship. We’d stock it full of every conceivable piece of machine shop equipment necessary to become a mini industrial revolution. we’d moor in a known spot on the Rhine where we have access to iron ore, and bauxite, and hopefully uranium. We’d establish contact with the Saxons, and explain to 'em politely and sensitively that life as they know it had ended and that the Winter Solstice was no longer the primary big gig on the calendar, but now, it was Superbowl Sunday.
We’d lay out an industrial base and build an instant township with sewerage and every known bit of modern hygiene and medicine - and then we’d get to work building a shit hot little city.
Then we’d start flying automated drones to fly over the alps and get them to buzz Rome each day, get the locals to look up and say “Oh fuck!” and then send the drones back north. The Romans would soon realise that something amazing was coming out of the north.
Anyways, that’s the fantasy aspects of it as far as my Buddy and I played with the idea.
So, over to you, my fellow dopers. What would you take? And what could you do with it? In say 35 years, and a 100 years? Assuming that we’re creating a parallel universe by doing this, how would life unfold over the next 1700 years?
P.S. We decided on the aircraft carrier because we liked the idea of being able to fly when needed. You probably wouldn’t need 75 F18’s though - maybe just 6 tops. And a few Blackhawks.