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

Silenus, how many persons are you planning to take? And how mnay horses, cattle, etc? Remember, the constraints of moving living animals is based on mass, not number. Horses mass hundreds of kilos, cattle even more. Two 600-kilo cattle (and there’s no point to taking just one) knock out 10-20 humans; and if one of those cattles dies before more are born in the colony, you’ve wasted resources something fierce. I still say it’s best to leave the animals behind, but look for someplace with domesticable wild beasts on arrive.

Pthibbit. 10,00 to 15,00 years ago.

Hmm. How far north was cotton found? Your best bets fibre-wise are either sheep or cotton. I wouldn’t use flax. Too labour-intensive and not warm. I guess you could bring 50 angora rabbits, but that seems silly.

Anyone know how many sheep you need for a stable population? How about females already impregnated? We’re planning that for the humans, should be less problem for sheep. Or rabbits.

Going back only 15,000 years is foolish. You’ve GOT to go back in time as far as possible because the Sun is going to go NOVA pretty soon. The farther back you go the longer humanity will survive before Earth is destroyed.

Going back in time to the Pleistocene isn’t a big problem. Sure there were big ice sheets covering Canada and Northern Europe, but so what? You don’t have to live near the ice sheets. The tropics were just as warm as they are today, the same biomes were present, simply compressed into slightly smaller bands. Sabre-tooth cats and cave lions aren’t any more worrisome than modern leopards and grizzlies, it’s not like those natural history paintings that show dozens of predators all sitting around at once. And arriving before the Pleistocene megafaunal extinctions means a lot more biodiversity. Maybe those giant ground sloths would have been perfect draft animals. Probably not, but still.

I’m sorry, but that just made me wet myself. I’msure the SCA folks will be well-respected as they bash at each other with 2x4s and sling quotes from LOTR back and forth.


You have to have draft animals or you’re dead. Oxen are next to useless for any kind of mechanized civilization. Take a look at the changes that have been bred into modern animals as opposed to their 100,000yo counter-parts. I’d be more than willing to sacrifice a few people to make sure I had a breeding population of modern livestock. Bring most of the stock as weaned youngsters…less space and more creatures. For that matter, burn some mass for a cryogenic chamber and carry germ stock for any number of strains. Then impregnate as much of the local fauna as possible with modern genes. That will let you skip over 50,000 of selective breeding right there.

Okay. So how many draft animals are you planning to bring, and what size breeding population for humans do you envision?

Remember, you’re allowed no more than 120,000 lbs of living animals.

You’ll probably have evolutionary modern humans around to exploit, er… integrate.
If you could take over a few tribes you don’t need to bring so many people back with you. If you are eating well and have metal in the paleolithic, it shouldn’t be hard to get the locals to join you. (Homo-sapien is 200,000 years old, I think)

Yeah, human nature and all that, they’d probably kill me right away, but I’m an optimist. Give us a 50,000 year technological jump start and maybe we could migrate before the nova.
I think I’d devote most of my non-survival space to books - raid a college bookstore, grab a few physicists and as many different kinds of engineers as possible. Linguists.

A few guns and ammo (the guns could be melted down after the ammo ran out) just to get us through the first year. Something that’d impress the locals - flash paper, fireworks, Bic lighter.


Not a member of the SCA are you? While it’s quite true that we have a contingent of “stick jocks” who delight in bashing each other with rattan swords, you might be shocked to find out that there’s more to the SCA than that. In our Arts and Sciences division, we have folks who have dedicated a lot of research and study to the replication of pre-industrial revolution techniques of manufacturing all kinds of goods.
There are folks who can make candles, spin and weave, glass work, ceramics, soap, etc. And these items are usually made from the ground up - meaning that they don’t get the ingredients from Hobby Lobby. Those who make soap start with wood ash and animal fat. I’ve seen them take sand, and end up with a lovely glass bottle. The candle making involves hunting down the hives to extract the wax themselves. I know a lady who makes her clothes for SCA events, and she starts by growing the flax herself, spins the thread, weaves the cloth, and sews it all by hand. My last pottery class with the SCA involved digging the clay from a lake bed, forming it, then firing it in a hand dug kiln near lakeside.
And sometimes even the Fighter-types get in on the serious side. I know a guy with leather armor that he made by tanning and processing the hides himself.

So you know…bash us at your own peril. You’ll come crying to us when you’re surrounded by a post apocalyptic wasteland with nothing to do but wail on your guitar while the hippos watch. :wink:

You don’t need a large breeding population for people…just skills. A quick zip to France, raid a few villages, cart off the females, and breed your little heart out. Plenty of genetic variation available for humans; it’s the animal variation we need to be worried about. You could easily get by with 200 or so people, with the requisite skills. That could get you a population of 10,000 in 30 years, even without raids. With them, and the encorporation of existing villages into your own society, with modern medice and hygiene, you could have a society that could conquer the planet well before the first Sumerian made a brick.

Hmm… I disagree. I think going back only, say, four thousand years or so would be a better idea. You wouldn’t have to worry about having enough breeding stock, as you could use the natives as a source of fresh DNA and labor, especially once you proved your Godhood by blowing up a few things.

Four thousand years is a LOT of time. Look how far we’ve gone in just one thousand years (animal power to nuclear power, horses and carts to space shuttles)- I think, given the knowledge you’d be able to take back, you’d easily be able to advance to our current level of technology/civilization within a thousand years… and then, when the nova does happen (in another three thousand years), your civilization is prepared for it.

Going back such a short time has a lot of advantages. You’ve got a good idea of what’s going to happen as far as disasters, a pretty good idea of the civilizations in existence at that time, and a good jumpstart on getting civilization going again.

Point well taken on the soap-n-candle brigade.

When you mention your leather-clad gentleman, why am I reminded of Hannibal and John Wayne Gacy?

And as for the guitar-in-the-wasteland…with my guitar skills, I would nodoubt have caused the wasteland, not wandered into it.

And I happen to like hippos.


I did the math - are you really telling me that it’s unreasonable for the average weight of a group of people to be 132 lbs or more? Because I don’t even know any really, really skinny grown men who weigh that, and unless you’re going for a predominantly petite female group, you aren’t likely to get 2000 Europeans to reach that weight limit, either. I guess you have a preference for Vietnamese or Filipinos…
(And, by the way, there are still quite a few - more than 2000, in fact - Americans who aren’t obese. Or even overweight. No kidding.)

I see a lot of good suggestions here for food, gear, and even books purely for entertainment. But nobody has mentioned music. Some of the scientific types will have “invented” electrical generators before long, so some top rate CD equipment and speakers with a sizeable collection of classical music would help feed the soul. If you’re bringing rap or hip hop, though, I’ll just stay here and now and blow up with the rest of the world.

Come to think of it, I’d probably be left behind anyway. I’m to fat to be considered for the trip, to old to propagate, and too cranky to get along with all those young people. :smiley: But what about music?

What about music? Take plans for musical instruments, and if anybody wants to pack an harmonica in their backpack as personal effects, more power to them. Otherwise, it will be a capella until we have society built up to a point that we can take time to train musicians. Waaay down on my priority list, frankly. And I’m a music-freak! Besides, jug-band instruments are easy to fashion.

Bring back your Uncles plans for the time machine.

It could probably never be passed down, over the thousands of generations, but what the heck. Perhaps it could be done again.

I would also think twice about the British Isles. Tough call. I would try to get closer to at least sailing distance from rubber trees. Not sure about minerals, but I think that perhaps somewhere along the Gulf of Mexico is where I would pick.

Or perhaps the Northern shores of Brazil. The Amazon Basin.

This whole scenario sounds like it would make a good book.

I went to work, a friend came in, and we spent 45 minutes discussing what to take. He’s a blacksmith/silversmith, and he says maybe a foot powered lathe, some tool steel, and some daps and blocks (or something like that) for precision manufacturing threading. The industrial level won’t be up to threading for a while, but threaded things are very important… He says that tool grade steel pieces can easily be welded into lower-quality iron bits, which lowers the amount of refining you need done.

You could take instructions for making a lathe (and you need really good instructions on steam machinery, a wood mill, and I think instrument making, along with all the other instruction books). He suggested that some of the medical personnel be trained in physiotherapy.

Needles. Take needles.

You need potters, with experience in kiln-making. Also, someone ought to know how to make charcoal. The more practical experience these people have the less screwing up there’ll be. I personally can make a spindle, spin, make simple looms, weave, and sew. I’m not going because I have terrible eyesight.

Unless the plan is to go industrial immediately every single person ought to know how to spin- how soon do you have to leave? Can you set up some training? Pre-industrial

I totally agree with FairieBeth. Anyone who can start from the raw materials.

Bugger. Posted before I was done.

“Anyone who can start from raw materials is most valuable”. How about a small wind turbine or something for a little bit of power?

Hmm. I’m running out. This would make a good book.

I should have said so in my OP, and I didn’t wantto seem to bump the thread unless someone asked. Let’s say you’ve five years to get ready (and, presumably, the Justice League of America on your side, keeping the nations of earth from taking the time machine from you. :wink: )

Five years? In that amount of time, we could teach these people a ton about that SCA stuff. Bring some of those SCA types along for the real master-crafts(wo)men stuff, but I’d definately bring along a small bunch of math and science types. That kind of thing requires genius to come up with, but just an average mind to follow. And I’d bring a lot of good ol’ down-home farmers, who know how to judge soil, rain, crops, and that kind of thing.

I don’t think 4,000 years is enough- you don’t want the Sumerians breathing down your necks. Primitive they may be, but there’s lots of 'em, and they’re organized, and they might be a pain. Besides, you won’t be able to keep up the “wizard” appearance for too long before you just can’t manage the flash powder and dynamite to scare them off. And I’d be wary of dropping into an Ice Age. Somewhere between 15,000 and 50,000 years ago might be better. Britain’s a good bet in my mind, if there’s no ice, as is Mesopotamia, or maybe China- those river valleys make for good farming.

Best not to skew the sex ratio like that unless you’ve got a really good plan for how every man is going to feed three nursing mothers and their babes-in-arms some time between six and nine months after you arrive. Remember, every man you want working on reiterating the Industrial Revolution will need feeding, and so will his three wives and their children.

As mentioned upthread, the imbalance will correct itself within a generation anyway, so it’s not a long-term survival strategy - but the short-term handicap of having six-sevenths of the colony being helpless dependents will offset any possible advantage of having a couple of thousand babies. Manage things a little more carefully, try to space the pregnancies out a bit, and don’t even think about a population explosion until you can feed it, at minimum.

Penicillin? What, you want to give bacteria a start on being antibiotics-resistant when you’re years, maybe centuries, away from being able to synthesise any alternatives? I hope it’ll be for emergencies only. Germ theory and knowledge of good hygiene would be more to the point.

Bring along someone who knows how to build waterwheels. Rivers are more reliable than wind, and you can run a small machine shop on water power.

Britain is an excellent site - it has tin, copper, iron, coal, timber, chinaclay, farmland, game, warm moist summers and mild winters (very mild in some eras… Roman colonists could grow grapes as far north as Northumberland). Go back to 10,000 BC and you should be dug in like a toad in a stone before even the Celts arrive, let alone the Romans.

I like to write. My email is in my addy. :slight_smile: