How to Build a Time Machine
We Can Experience Life in the Past
First, the bad news. Not only I don’t know how to build a time machine for time travel, but no such machine exists. There is no way any of us can travel backwards or forward in time, despite the large number of books and movies built around this concept.
However, just because we cannot physically travel back in time to fight with George Washington at Yorktown or sail with Christopher Columbus, doesn’t mean that we cannot experience life as it was in the past.
During the last half century we made great strides in being able to experience life in the past. Below are three ways a person today can re-visit and experience life as it was in times past.
Visit a Living History Museum
The first way is to visit a living history museum. These have become increasingly popular, especially in North America and parts of Europe.
Unlike traditional historic museums and buildings where one can view actual artifacts and dioramas depicting life in the past, living history museums try to create what life was like in the period being depicted. Living history museums generally consist of a building or small village that has been restored to a particular era and staffed with actors who play the parts of people who would have lived or worked in the building or village.
The buildings and many of the artifacts used are original or, when necessary, replicas produced using the tools and techniques of the period. The actors have no set script but have studied the period and talk and live as the people of that era talked and lived. The actors interact with the visitors but stay within character. They are friendly and patiently answer questions about the objects around them or life in the village or building – they understand that the visitors are from some strange place and are not familiar with life in this village.
Living history museums give visitors a glimpse and taste of life in the era being depicted, but the visitors are still tourists viewing, rather than living, the life of the era in question.
Join a Re-enactment Organization
For a more in depth experience there are reenactment organizations.
Reenactment organizations are basically clubs, which are often associated with a large national organization, where people assume the role of a person of the era in focus – soldier, trader, camp follower, etc.- and then totally immerse themselves in that role.
Each member is required to learn as much as they can about the era and type of person they are playing.
Members often attempt to make their own clothes, eating utensils and other paraphernalia they will need when the group meets for their reenactments. These reenactments are usually open to the public and members of the public are allowed to mingle with the members.
Again, just as with living history museums, the members often strive to stay in character during these not so much
for purposes of show, as the actors in the living history museums, but
because they really want to experience the life of that era as closely
as possible. In doing so they gain a deeper understanding and
appreciation of the era than they would obtain from reading a history
Video from Kon-Tiki Expedition
Archeologists and Anthropologists Sometimes Go Off and Try to Live as People in a Past Era Lived
The third type of experiencing life in the past is when scholars, usually anthropologists or archaeologists, attempt to actually live for a period of time as the people under study lived, both to gain more knowledge about the lives of people in the past as well as to test theories.
A notable example of theory testing was when the Norwegian explorer and anthropologist Thor Heyerdahl and his team attempted to prove the theory that the islands of the Pacific were visited and possibly settled by natives of South America.
Heyerdahl and his team did this by sailing a replica of an Inca raft made out of balsa wood. The raft was named Kon-Tiki and Heyerdahl and his crew successfully sailed from Peru to Polynesia.
During the voyage they learned quite a bit about steering and navigating the raft – knowledge that they would not have learned from merely studying ancient drawings and other evidence.
Following in Heyerdahl’s footsteps, teams of archaeologists and anthropologists often go into an area and, using tools and techniques that residents of the area in another era used, attempt to live and work, cut off from the modern world outside, as those of the past age under study.
Such research has given scientists and historians a deeper understanding of techniques and processes used in every day life in the past as well as solve riddles such as what a certain tool was used for, or how the people in the past were able to make a certain product or item or what day to day life was like in general for that period.
While it is still not possible to physically travel back in time, it is possible to create simulations that allow us to experience life as lived by those in the past.
- Velkommen til Kon-Tiki Museet - Welcome to The Kon-Tiki Museum
The Kon-Tiki Museum is located in Olso, Norway and houses the original Kon-Tiki raft that Thor Heyerdahl and his crew said in from South America to Polynesia
- The Society for Creative Anachronism, Inc.
The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our "Known World" consists of 19 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dre
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