You're leading a human colony to prehistoric past: what gear do you take?

This is obviously the flip side to this thread about the ability of present-day humans to survive millions of years ago. Let me set some conditions.

  1. The Earth is doomed. Let’s say the sun is going nova–admittedly in defiance of all reasonable astronomical theory, but what the hell. You know this with utter certainty.

  2. No one has a hyperdrive, generation ships, or terraforming technology, so moving to another planet isn’t an option; but your brilliant Uncle Jordan Ellison has invented a time-machine capable of moving a small colony back in time up to 100,000 years. The time machine can be used only once, as its power-source is the nova that’s causing the problem in the first place. You can only go backwards (not that there’s a reason to go forward). Also, the time machine works like a transporter, not a shuttlecraft; it sends its cargo/passengers back in time, but itself remains in the present, so it will not be available for cannabilization afterwards.

  3. Even with the nova as a power source, the time machine’s power is limited. Because time travel is difficult for animals to survive, much of its power has to be used to stabilize them during the trip; it can send a maximum of 120,000 kilograms of living animal matter on this journey. (That’s 2000 people, if they mass an average of 60 kilos each). Plant matter is easier, as are inorganic items. Without the necessity of maintaining metabolic stability during transport, the primary constraint is VOLUME, not mass; the time machine can send a maximum of 80,000 cubic meters of such material back with you. Also, with the assistance of your cousin Monty Scott, you hinky with the machine so that each person sent back can carry the clothes on their back and one backpack with them; the fully-loaded backpack can mass no more than 20 kilograms.

  4. You get to interview prospective colonists, and yours is the ultimate word on who gets a ticket.

Where would you go? When would you go? What would you take? Who would you take? What would your strategy be?

100,000 years ago puts you into the Ice Ages. A jump of 15,000 or so gets you to the Holocene. The larger mammals are becoming extinct, which saves you from becoming sabre-tooth tiger chow. I’m going to have to insist on bringing back my cats, so one person is going to miss out on the trip.

I think I’d aim for a settlement in Britain. Isolated somewhat, you could easily displace anybody there. It’s defensible, and you can access large quantities of iron and coal easily, not to mention tin and other necessary raw materials to get your Industrial Revolution going. Bring lots of seeds of New World plants. Homo neanderthalis is extinct, so no problem there. Plenty of room to expand throughout Europe. Lots of technical books get packed, along with practical engineering tomes. 3/1 female/male, all fertile, and all the females pregnant by someone other than the transportees. This greatly increases the gene pool.

That should get us started here.

Medical textbooks, something on how to make antibiotics (plus a good supply of antibiotics), as much iron as I can fit, staple crop seeds that would thrive in the soil/climate of the timeplace chosen

People - field/military type medics, blacksmith, geologist, mine engineer, archeologist familier with the time chosen (paleontologist instead, maybe, or both). I could probably find 2000 different specialties to bring.
As many different ethnic types as I can find, for I’m a fan of genetic diversity.
Domestic animals - dogs and cats for hunting and pest control.

I’d have to consult with someone(s) about a time and place, taking into account ice ages, accessable ores, lack of freaky-dangerous predators but some tasty prey. As Silenus said, British Isles might be good if you miss the ice ages.
This is just off the top of my head, I’m pretty sure I could get amazingly boring in details so I’ll spare everyone that.

How much do your cats WEIGH, dude?

I was thinking the same time period, but in the temperate zone of North America–Tennessee, maybe. Fairly mild climate, natural resources, and nobody’s crossed the Bering Strait yet, so there’s no other cultures to defend against.

Your sex ratio is a good idea, though it probably won’t last more than a generation. But I wonder at the wisdom of having 1500 pregnant women without the men who’ve impregnated them at hand. For one thing, they’ll all be having babies within months of each other, which is going to reduce your work force early in the colony’s history. For another, these women are likely to be mourning the loss of the fathers of their children, on top of the psychological trauma of the transport. And many of them are likely to perceive themselves as being used as brood mares under such circumstances, since you’re obliging them to be separated from their baby’s fathers (or maybe they’re using turkey basters).

Any thoughts on what equipment you’re going to bring? Silenus or anybody?

Are you sure about that? Remember, you have constraints on how many living animals you can take with you; every three dogs, say, will mean one less person. I’d be more inclined to include some skilled animal trainers in my colony and train animals at the destination. (Which conflicts my earlier-cited plans to end up in North America before the arrival of humans impractical, I realize, since, as I understand it, dogs and cats became habituated to humans because of time spent together in prehistory.)

Seeds, cuttings, stainless steel tools (axes, knives, plowshares,etc), magnesium firestarters, antibiotics, field surgery kits, vitamins, super-thin & light plastic tarps/blankets. A few stainless steel blackpower rifles, with plenty of flints, and a modest supply of bullets and powder (we can make more).

Books- survival books, “how-to” books, field medic guides, “ABC” books- the books all written on some sort of plastic that won’t degrade and is moderately fire resistant.

I’d go to California, right after the Ice Age, but before people. Maybe 15000years ago.

People: 200 or so expert dudes & dudettes of around 50- leaders, doctors, survival experts, midwifes, farmers, herbalists, etc. Maybe dudes who have done “mountain-man” stuff, SCA stuff (blacksmithing, leatherworking, flintknapping and the like). I’d make sure we have one dude who is the unquestioned Leader, someone like a Col in the Rangers or Green Berets, but also who will accept advice from the other “Elders”. A couple of secondary leaders, maybe one of the Doctors?

1800 Youngsters of 18-25. Mostly military trained, but let’s get a few from the SCA, Mountain men, subsistance farmers. 1000 of them females, a small number of which are already pregant by a male outside the group . A fair number of Combat Medics, nurses, rangers, and the like. Must be able to follow orders. I expect to lose a fair number of the “young bucks” to sabertooths, direwolves, short-faced bears and the like, so I don’t have many times more females than males.

All the same race, all Americans. All more or less generic non-fundie, somewhat agnostic Xtian (I am only picking Xtian as I am picking Americans and they’ll be mosty Xtian, but I emphasise dudes who are mostly agnostic). All speaking English as their 1st language.

Why all one race?

I’d go back to 1955 with enough vintage currency to buy a house in southern California and to invest in the stock market. I’d bring a list of the top performing stocks by quarter. I’d be dead before the next nova. Good times.

That should be 1965.

No racial tensions.

It lessens somewhat the cultural carryover from Earth-Prime, and it negates an obvious “minority group” in the early days of the colony.

As for the pregnant women, I didn’t say that they were pair-bonded with anyone left behind. Young, fertile, and knocked-up were the criteria. Turkey-basters work here. :smiley:

I was generally figuring that there would be other cats and dogs going, so we drop the number of people somewhat. My cats aren’t huge, but there are a few of them!

DrDeth has some good ideas about equipment and training.

Perhaps you could include some children as well of ages 7+. They can perform duties and require minimal supervision versus babies, and you can fit more of them on in order to increase genetic diversity. I’d rather have 1 non-pregnant woman and a child than two pregnant women, even though it would be one fewer person, since it would require less a drain on the resources, and plus there is less of a chance of mishaps during childbirth, and the child has most likely been immunized already.

Which brings us to another point. EVERYONE needs to be completely free of STDs.

Equipment? As ppl have mentioned in other threads, see if you have enough space for a machine shop. If you go to prehistoric Britain there are coal sources close enough to the surface you could use for the required heat.

That and weapons. The three most important items to bring back are a machine shop, weapons, and food.

And seeds. The four most important items to bring back are a machine shop, weapons, food, and seeds.

I’m fuzzy (ha!) on domestication theory, so I was thinking of cross-breeding a domesticated canine with wolves to jump-start the process. The first couple years will be key, so it’s worth the loss to preserve the colony with some things that will later be bred/manufactured on site (is my thinking).
Cats are our masters and overlords, so we’d have to include them.
Good thought tho, gotta add animal trainers and ranchers.

Don’t really like people all that much, anyway :wink:

I’m worried about the Americas because I have doubts about easily accessable ore. My mine engineer and geologist would probably laugh at me for that.

DrDeth - I’m guessing the “one race, American” is a bit of an joke, since American is a heterogeneous society. “American” would include all ethnicities? Or did you mean “Native American” as the one race?

America likely has some of the best ore in the world.

I meant all one “race”, and all one nationality- which would be American (but I would accept Canadian, or English, or…). I am willing that they all be Black, Hispanic, asian, Amerind or white, as long as they are all they same “race” (as in appearance). Although what I really mean is for them appearing to be all the same race, with other ethnicities in there (some hispanics & Amerinds appear “white” for example).

Yes, a few children would be a good idea. Maybe 200?

And, free of most other diseases, and free of bad genetic conditions. No diabetics, for example.

I wouldn’t want to organize a colony myself, but I would help someone else do it. :smiley: I’ll assume that you’ve got the hunters, military types, doctors, etc. Aslo that I’m glomming on to one of the -10,000 expeditions.

Take a microscope and the wherewithal for crude penicillin manufacture. How hard is it to make ether? Take the instruments necessary for that- a few glassblowers, especially ones who can start from scratch. No, take several microscopes. It’ll be a while before you can make them.

Bunch of carpenters, several blacksmiths, preferably ones who can do basic smelting, and can learn to do gunsmithing. Anyone who likes to make stuff and start with the raw materials is a good bet. Chemical engineers. A few people who have done handweaving and handspinning, and really good diagrams of all sorts of looms. Most handspinners also do dyeing. Engineers. It would be nice if some of the people are also damn good storytellers. Probably the great print revolution won’t be organized immediately.

I’d take some sheep, and a bunch of seed potatoes. Meat, milk, clothes, and a stable ground crop. Maybe wheat and oats, although they’re more labour-intensive.

Try not to pick a bunch of people with poor eyesight or a family history of really bad congenital disease.

I would take a Lazarus Long-style selection of Great Books along with all the instruction books. Shakespeare, Homer, the great poets, a bunch of really, really good novels.

Hmm. I’ll keep thinking about this.

Civil engineers are essential for any kind of start-up civilization. You can pack the hardware for quite a few waterwheels, windmills and the like in a small space. Make the main parts out of local timber. Lots of machine tools, with at least some of them manufactured around the turn of the last century. No computer-controls and the like, just good gearing. You’ll need the makings of a good blacksmiths shop or three, so that means anvils, punches, dies, etc. Horses are needed, so plan on shipping through some pregnant Percherons. Chickens, sheep, goats, pigs, cattle (both beef and milk types) for food. As many pregnant as possible at transport. Heirloom seeds for anything you can think of. Japanese roses for defense (they grow into a thick hedge if not pruned religiously). You are really going to want cross-trained people with wierd hobbies for this. Personally, I wouldn’t trust any SCA-type to not go mental three weeks after the trip. There is a limited need for military types if you pick the right period and carry the right weaponry. A few big explosions and the locals will put you down a “wizards, not to be messed with” and so much for defense. You can then populate the island with your society well before the Picts, Angles, Jutes, etc. show up.

We are going to need more people here! The animals are going to take up most of the transport. :smiley:

And why Americans? I mean no offense but given the average weight of Americans these days, you won’t even be able to get to 2000 people if 120,000kg is your limit.

Hey, half of management is finding the right lieutenants.

I’m not sure about the military types, as I’d prefer to choose a place and time where there were no other humans to be displaced.


I’m not sure the sheep are wise, for the same reason as given for the domestic animals above. Remember, under the rules of the OP, you’re going to have to sacrifice some humans to take them back; I don’t think you can take enough sheep to make a stable breeding population without cutting back more thanyou want to on humans. I’d rather go for an area where the fossil record indicates I’d be able to find suitable livestock, along with the aforementioned ranchers & animal trainers.

[QUOTE=Lissla Lissar]
I wouldn’t want to organize a colony myself, but I would help someone else do it. :smiley: I’ll assume that you’ve got the hunters, military types, doctors, etc. Aslo that I’m glomming on to one of the -10,000 expeditions./QUOTE]

I might point out that those 10,000 persons you’re taking mass an average of 12 kilos each. That’s not even thirty pounds. So they’re all adolescent hobbits. :dubious: