A Brief History
On March 9, 1982, Krononauts (or Chrononauts) held a meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, for any and all time travelers to meet for the purpose of discussing and demonstrating methods of time travel. To our knowledge, no actual working time machines were displayed, but such an event gives us pause to consider, If time travel was possible, what event or time period would we most like to go back in time to observe? Today we will list some events we would most like to see happen first hand, but at a safe distance! Some of the events we list are because of the incredible spectacle offered by the event, others curiosity about what really happened, and some just because that is what interests us.
1. Dinosaurs, 65 million or more years ago.
Yes, we know these long gone critters are not an “event,” per se, but we would love to see the real deal in the flesh! Unless you believe in the Christian version of creation where man coexisted with dinosaurs as in the Flintstones, we assume no person has ever seen a living dinosaur. Given proper safety precautions, we would love the be the first. What color were they? What sounds did they make? Did they have feathers?
2. Neanderthal/Cro-Magnon Cave Man, 40,000 years ago.
Right along the same line as the dinosaurs, we are super interested and curious about what these ancestors of ours really looked like and acted like. Preferably a period of time when both existed at the same time so we could see both varieties of Cave Man. Did they wear clothes? Body art? Ornaments or jewelry? Did they seem to have an actual language? How did they hunt, interact, travel, etc. Did they make shelters, or only live in caves? Had Cave Men already started to domesticate any animals, especially wolves/dogs? We would also love to see the animals that existed at that time, such as Woolly Mammoths and Woolly Rhinoceroses. Or how about Saber Tooth cats?
3. Jesus’s ministry and last days, 2000 years ago.
Okay, many people believe this journey would be a fruitless trip back in time if they believe there was no real Jesus Christ. Did He exist at all, or was He some sort of compilation of various “saviors?” Was he really as described in the Gospels? What did Jesus look like? Still, going back to Jerusalem of 1 AD to 33 AD would give us a definitive knowledge of what actually did or did not transpire regarding miracles, teachings, and the death and resurrection of Christ. Either we would go away in awe of the confirmation of the New Testament, or we would know the actual events that inspired the largest monotheistic religion in history. Knowing first hand would be thrilling to say the least. (The same idea would apply to the life and ascension of Muhammad a few hundred years later, or the supposed Exodus of the Jews from Egypt, an event questioned by historians. Many religious related events and miracles would be interesting to see for ourselves first hand.)
4. Battle of Waterloo, 1815.
Perhaps the most famous battle in history, the forces of Napoleon Bonaparte were defeated by the Allied forces led by the Duke of Wellington in what is now Belgium, leading to the final abdication of Napoleon and his ultimate exile. The confusion and carnage had to be overwhelming, and if the battle could be seen from a safe perch above the battlefield it would be most informative. (The owner of this website is a Napoleon scholar and has written 2 books and various articles about Napoleon Bonaparte.)
5. Coronation of Napoleon Bonaparte, Emperor of the French, 1804.
An historic event that does not include people being killed! The nifty period clothing, the pomp and epic nature of the event, combined with the famous and audacious act of Napoleon taking the crown from the Pope and placing it on his own head, signifying that he, Napoleon, was making himself Emperor, not the Pope, would truly be a spectacle. To see Napoleon in his prime would be a dream come true, and definitely be on our time travel bucket list.
6. Mount Tambora Eruption, 1815.
In this slot you could insert any of the spectacular volcanic eruptions in the history of the Earth, with this particular event being perhaps the most significant during recorded history. The eruption killed over 11,000 people on the spot, and another 60,000 or so people over a period of time. Ejecting a massive 23 cubic kilometers of ash into the atmosphere caused 1816 to be known as “The year without a summer,” as the ash aloft blocked the sun and kept the Earth cool, ruining many crops and making a disaster of the season at beach resorts (or so we assume). Other massive eruptions, such as Krakatoa in 1883 (killing 36,000 people, the second deadliest to humans eruption in history) would likewise be impressive to see in person, but the real show would be the events of millions of years ago that absolutely dwarf these eruptions within the last couple thousand years, at least 40 of which ejected at least 1000 cubic kilometers of ash and rock, up to the Guarapuava eruption of 132 million years ago that ejected 8600 cubic kilometers of ash and rock! Presuming such an event could be safely observed, the show would be awesome.
7. Gunfight at the OK Corral, 1881.
A 30 second shootout in tombstone, Arizona in which only 3 men died might not sound like much, but it is certainly the most famous shootout of the Old West, and an event we would be interested in seeing. As with most fights, the surviving participants gave different accounts of what happened, but as Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday and Earp’s Brothers won the fight (the three killed were their opponents) and they were acquitted in court, their version is the tale we have. Actually seeing the event would be a real hoot for any aficionado of the Wild West. (Wyatt Earp was not injured at all in this famous shootout, and lived until January of 1929, dying just a few weeks before my father was born. Earp worked as a consultant on Hollywood movies in his later years!)
8. Battle of Thermopylae, 480 BC.
One of the most famous battles of ancient times, the military heritage in the author makes this event a must see. The outnumbered Spartan forces of King Leonidas desperately trying to hold off the superior numbers of Persians under Xerxes I is a battle of the underdog that has inspired people throughout history, including us. Unlike the highly stylized film of the event, 300, in 2006, the actual battle would fascinate us seeing the real uniforms, weapons and tactics employed. Many other ancient battles would be amazing to watch, such as those campaigns of Alexander the Great or Julius Caesar, or even the Siege of Troy, which probably happened in some form in spite of the mythological stories about it that followed. We pick Thermopylae, because that’s what we pick! Which ancient battle would you prefer to see in person?
9. Custer’s Last Stand, 1876 (Battle of the Little Big Horn).
Not exactly an inspiring event unless you happened to be one of the thousands of Native Americans being forced off your land and onto a reservation, possibly also being the target of a homicidal glory seeker. Still, what is probably the most famous Whites vs. Indians battle in American History is one of the most studied and culturally significant such battles. We would take no joy in the slaughter that took place, or in the mutilation of bodies that ensued, or in the suicides of US Cavalry Troopers who refused to be taken prisoner alive, but the tremendous historical and cultural significance of the battle piques our interest. It would be amazing to see if the decision to leave the Gatling guns behind really made a difference, or if Custer and his men were doomed anyway. Were the single shot rifles of the Cavalry a liability compared to the more rapid fire of Indian arrows and lever action rifles? Or was the massacre simply because of superior numbers of Native American warriors? Did the Army make tactical blunders in the face of superior Indian tactics? The military in us once again makes the idea of seeing for ourselves intriguing.
10. Tunguska Event, 1908.
Once again we go to a natural event, not The Big Bang, and not the Cretaceous Extinction Event (an asteroid hitting the Earth that finally made the dinosaurs extinct about 66 million years ago), we choose the fascinating Tunguska event because it happened less than 50 years before the author was born, and presumably could easily happen again. For those not familiar with the event (or those unfamiliar with The X-Files television series), back in 1908 an enormous explosion occurred in the wilds of the central part of Russia, flattening 770 to 830 square miles of forest but killing perhaps no humans due to the remote nature of the location. It is theorized that a meteor or comet exploded in the air prior to impact with the Earth, an object perhaps 200 to just over 600 feet in diameter, depending on density. The force of the explosion is estimated to be somewhere between 15 and 30 mega tons of TNT, about 1000 times the force of the Hiroshima atom bomb. Other estimates give a lesser force, though more focused downward than that of a nuclear blast that would result in similar damage. An estimated 80 million trees (that is a lot of wood!) were blown down, all pointing outward from the explosion. People did witness the downward arc of the celestial body and the subsequent explosion, obviously from a distance, although some people were blown off their feet by the blast many miles (40 to a hundred or more) away. Windows were broken, and there may have been 2 people killed by the blast, but those fatalities are undocumented. Wow, this could happen anywhere on Earth at any time! The site was not visited by a scientific expedition until 1921.
Question for students (and subscribers): What events would you add to the list? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
Your readership is much appreciated!
For more information, please see…
Davis, Paul. 100 Decisive Battles: From Ancient Times to the Present. Oxford University, 2001.
Dixon, Dougal. The Complete Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Dinosaurs & Prehistoric Creatures. Southwater, 2014.
Gillhouse and Huebner. The True Story Of Kill Or Be Killed In The Real Old West. OldWestLawmansForgottenMemoir, 2012.
Spilsbury, Louise. Violent Volcanoes (Awesome Forces of Nature). Heinemann, 2010.
The featured image in this article, an ad in Artforum Magazine designed by RichardTE (January 1980), inviting time travelers, or People from the Future(s), to Baltimore, Maryland two years later on March 9, 1982, is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.