September 29, 2020, 11:24:39 AM

Author Topic: A thousand years here, a thousand years there  (Read 11756 times)

Offline Elfy

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Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #30 on: March 28, 2015, 11:02:46 PM »
I remember when we followed a sign in New Zealand to a 'historical' bridge and it was from 1910 or something like that.  ;D
We get that here, too, xi. Last year in Scotland we stayed in this castle, and the guests stay in the baronial part of it that was added after the keep (which dates back to sometime in the 14th century). I asked the guide how old the baronial part was and he said 'This is actually quite new.'
'How old?'
'Probably no older than the 18th century.'
So that puts it at about 300 years old, the oldest European building of any historical significance in Australia dates back to the early 1800's. They were the same in Italy, we went to an archaeological site in Rome, which has a 2nd or 3rd century church under a more recent one. The guide said that the basilica it's under is fairly new, only 4 or 500 years old!

Offline K.S. Crooks

Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #31 on: March 29, 2015, 02:14:50 PM »
A long period of time at a certain point becomes meaningless to a person. Saying 3000 or 5000 years is something a many people cannot envision. The same way a 5 year old cannot envision being 30. This is part of the reason the number used is so generic. 1000 years, why not 1024 years or 967. If a person is familiar with geologic or societal changes then that will increase their understanding, but how many people actually know what it would be like to live in their same location 1000 years ago. What would the land and water be like, wildlife, people, etc. I do think that the author should put thought into this, but it is understandable that the characters do not rally understand what life was like back then. Understand that over the past century the average person has had more information available to them than all other times in human history combined. In the past only a select few had access to greater knowledge.

I think the points made about progress are valid and could be mentioned, but realize the changes could seem subtle to the reader. 1000 years ago human used wind driven ships, 500 years ago they still used wind driven ships. Was there progress yes, but in terms of making ships, faster and more powerful. Not in making ship run on a new power source. There are periods with subtle change and periods with massive change. The 20th century has been one of if not the greatest period of human advancement in terms of changing what we could do and understand at the start versus the end. This make us a little jaded in what progress should occur over large periods of time.
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Offline Yora

Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #32 on: March 29, 2015, 03:19:05 PM »
A weird thing lots of people do is to assume that people who live ten times as long as humans also do everything the same way with just anohter 0 added to the numbers.
So you might have this 700 year old elf who was at some event when he was 200, but he most probably won't remember it like a 70 year old remembers something from when he was 20. I think its more likely that he only remembers those things about as well as if he had read about them in a book a few years ago. I am only 30 and I don't barely remember anything from 20 years ago.
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Offline Elfy

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Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #33 on: March 30, 2015, 12:18:29 AM »
A weird thing lots of people do is to assume that people who live ten times as long as humans also do everything the same way with just anohter 0 added to the numbers.
So you might have this 700 year old elf who was at some event when he was 200, but he most probably won't remember it like a 70 year old remembers something from when he was 20. I think its more likely that he only remembers those things about as well as if he had read about them in a book a few years ago. I am only 30 and I don't barely remember anything from 20 years ago.
Terry Pratchett kind of did that in reverse with his Bromeliad trilogy. He reasoned that generally smaller creatures don't live as long as larger ones, kind like the mayfly or voles and shrews. The heroes of the Bromeliad trilogy were small gnomes, so they didn't live as long as normal sized people. I can remember one of the characters thinking that he'd never understand women, not even if he lived to be 10 years old!
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Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #34 on: March 31, 2015, 01:01:43 PM »
"In America, 100 years is a long time. In England 100 miles is a long distance."

I love that.

It can be easy to get blasé about old buildings. My best friend's house, which I spent about half my childhood in, was late 17th century. My sister used to live in a 15th century cottage, but she's moved to a modern place now - 18th century  8)

Then again, I can imagine someone from Greece or Egypt looking at us and saying "You think a thousand years is old?"

Offline JMack

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Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #35 on: March 31, 2015, 01:05:56 PM »
"In America, 100 years is a long time. In England 100 miles is a long distance."

I love that.

It can be easy to get blasé about old buildings. My best friend's house, which I spent about half my childhood in, was late 17th century. My sister used to live in a 15th century cottage, but she's moved to a modern place now - 18th century  8)

Then again, I can imagine someone from Greece or Egypt looking at us and saying "You think a thousand years is old?"
So an interesting question to me is how someone in a pre-industrial society will think about their ancient history. Will they say. Well, three thousand years ago, the pharaohs rules here, and Anaphabet was a great hero. Or will they say: this building is thousands of years old. We were kings once. Maybe the scholars know more."

If it's the first, which I do think is possible, then it needs to really make sense in that world, and not just in "dungeon master" timeline explication.
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Offline Nyki Blatchley

Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #36 on: April 01, 2015, 03:59:37 PM »
"In America, 100 years is a long time. In England 100 miles is a long distance."

I love that.

It can be easy to get blasé about old buildings. My best friend's house, which I spent about half my childhood in, was late 17th century. My sister used to live in a 15th century cottage, but she's moved to a modern place now - 18th century  8)

Then again, I can imagine someone from Greece or Egypt looking at us and saying "You think a thousand years is old?"
So an interesting question to me is how someone in a pre-industrial society will think about their ancient history. Will they say. Well, three thousand years ago, the pharaohs rules here, and Anaphabet was a great hero. Or will they say: this building is thousands of years old. We were kings once. Maybe the scholars know more."

If it's the first, which I do think is possible, then it needs to really make sense in that world, and not just in "dungeon master" timeline explication.
It depends on the society, and on who's thinking about the history. Many societies have had very precisely dated chronicles, and the scholars or loremasters would certainly know how long ago events happened, though to a peasant in the fields it might just be "in the old days".

One common idea in societies where there are remnants from a more technologically advanced civilisation (eg Roman remains in early mediaeval Europe) is that they were built by gods or giants.

Offline NinjaRaptor

Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #37 on: April 05, 2015, 05:18:17 AM »
I trust you guys all realize that we Homo sapiens spent our first ~190,000 years of existence as a distinct species as hunter-gatherers with barely any metallurgy, don't you? Granted, in that time there still would have been cultural adaptations reflecting environmental changes, but that only goes to show you that necessity has always been the mother of human invention. You need a reason for people to break out of their cultural "stasis" and innovate. I don't think we can extrapolate our own experience of constantly changing technology as affluent First World citizens in the 21st century onto earlier time periods.
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Offline RussetDivinity

Re: A thousand years here, a thousand years there
« Reply #38 on: April 05, 2015, 06:29:52 AM »
I trust you guys all realize that we Homo sapiens spent our first ~190,000 years of existence as a distinct species as hunter-gatherers with barely any metallurgy, don't you? Granted, in that time there still would have been cultural adaptations reflecting environmental changes, but that only goes to show you that necessity has always been the mother of human invention. You need a reason for people to break out of their cultural "stasis" and innovate. I don't think we can extrapolate our own experience of constantly changing technology as affluent First World citizens in the 21st century onto earlier time periods.

This is a good point; it's only very recently that technological changes have become very rapid and the rate at which the world changes has sped up. Still, when it comes to the fantasy novels I've read that don't seem to have any sort of changes, the technology level is rather above hunter-gatherers. Generally, it's at a roughly medieval level, and while people might live the same sort of day-to-day life through various generations, when the society as a whole doesn't change at all (no shifting political alliances, no wars that even slightly alter boundaries between countries, no natural disasters that cause mass migrations) that things start to get a little unconvincing.