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  1. - Top - End - #91
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Xyril View Post
    Respectfully, this argument strikes me as a bit disingenuous. You're the guy who very optimistically claimed that we could get to a primitive Babbage computing machine within a month. Of course, this was predicated on being in such a world of plenty that our engineers/craftsmen could practically sit under a tree eating the apples that fall while focusing their work, but even if we account for a more reasonable amount of man-hours spent scooping fish out of the river, we're still dealing with the same order of magnitude on our time constant.

    However, when analyzing someone else's idea of pursuing flint as an intermediate step, suddenly you're so pessimistic about the time-scale that you claim that it will take so long to develop useful flint tools that at that point, everyone who remembers iron will be dead of old age? Also, you've repeatedly stated that you "assume abundance," yet now you imply that it will take a substantial amount of time to even "find" flint?

    This doesn't really match with my real life experiences. I've done the hipster neolithic experience shaping flint before. Assuming you have access to the flint, it didn't take long to teach a complete novice like me the basics and to chip out something marginally useful. I've also done design and prototyping as an undergraduate at probably the most well-funded university in the U.S. While I certainly wasn't an expert by any means, I absolutely knew more than I did about making flint ax-heads, I had the help of real experts, design software, excellent facilities and equipment... and it still took me far more than a month to design and build something probably less complicated that what you suggest.

    So in my experience, taking the time to build some flint tools to make life easier before moving on to metal and simple machines probably isn't going to make me and my society so invested in the idea of perfecting or neolithic society that we simply don't bother trying to do anything else while our first generation of experts slowly succumbs to the ravages of time.
    You need to go back at re-read what I said.

    None of that is correct.

    It's not even like I'm not very specific. I've said that flint is a dead end. Flint doesn't go anywhere. It gives you flint tools, and then that's as far as you will *EVER* get with flint. The very peak of flint tool evolution is a flint tool. Have your pick. A knife maybe?

    Whereas frontloading iron working will get you everything. Everything we have today is built upon the strong shoulders of the steam engine - and the steam engine rests upon iron working (and coal mining, but you basically need metal tools for that too).

  2. - Top - End - #92
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    It's not even like I'm not very specific. I've said that flint is a dead end. Flint doesn't go anywhere. It gives you flint tools, and then that's as far as you will *EVER* get with flint. The very peak of flint tool evolution is a flint tool. Have your pick. A knife maybe?

    Whereas frontloading iron working will get you everything. Everything we have today is built upon the strong shoulders of the steam engine - and the steam engine rests upon iron working (and coal mining, but you basically need metal tools for that too).
    Flint tools are a stepping stone to everything else. Flint forms a huge part of early human development for several good reasons: it's abundant, strong and easy to work with. Our settlers could have some serviceable flint tools by the end of day 1. Those tools will make it much easier to gather food and firewood, to build shelters and kilns and all the other things they'll need long before they're ready to work iron.

    Heck, what do you propose they use even to dig up iron ore?

    As for steam - the work to get from primitive iron working to steam engines is way, way greater than the leap from flint to iron. There's a reason it took thousands of years to make that jump, even after civilisation was firmly established. It requires steel of a level of purity that you will never achieve with your early smelting technology, and it has to be worked to a level of precision that only the most skilled of smiths would even be able to appreciate, much less emulate. Get this wrong, and the whole thing will literally blow up in your face. Several of the early pioneers of steam power ended up plastered across the walls of their workshops because their steel wasn't pure enough, or their seams weren't straight enough, even with state-of-the-art 18th-century technology.
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  3. - Top - End - #93
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    I think the motivation for pushing literacy is simply so that the first generation can record and transmit knowledge that they won't be able to put into practice right away.
    It's kind of the same thing, but also so subsequent generations can record and transmit (re)discovered knowledge that would otherwise be forgotten.

    The aforementioned Babbage computer not only requires metal working skills the victorians didn't possess (or at least couldn't afford) but also designing which requires something to design on (and something for input/output).

    And thanks for pointing out forgetting the importance and time of textiles.
    So that gives:
    Agriculture limited by evolution time, but have better selective breeding practices (how much so), and if starting equipment is allowed direct gene stuff
    Wood/Iron work limited by the neccessity to have tools and raw materials, much abbreviated we can bring back a solar powered milling machine.
    Record keeping (how easy is paper to make? looks textile dependent, but if can get to AD/CE levels quickly that sets the place for paper-mills and printing while still on a roll)
    Textiles a massive drain on time unless we have quantities of fabric/distribution, but some potential shortcuts spinning wheel? especially if we have tools for generation 1.
    Steam, need post-medieval levels of metalworking, if we have the s-p-milling-m then it might just be possible?
    Electronics, need pretty high levels of materials technology (long strands of wire and fast movement just to generate non-trivial amounts of electricity)

  4. - Top - End - #94
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    You need to go back at re-read what I said.

    None of that is correct.

    It's not even like I'm not very specific. I've said that flint is a dead end. Flint doesn't go anywhere. It gives you flint tools, and then that's as far as you will *EVER* get with flint. The very peak of flint tool evolution is a flint tool. Have your pick. A knife maybe?

    Whereas frontloading iron working will get you everything. Everything we have today is built upon the strong shoulders of the steam engine - and the steam engine rests upon iron working (and coal mining, but you basically need metal tools for that too).
    Any particular reason you insist on gathering your iron by hand, instead of with flint tools? It's not about developing stone technology per se, but tool technology. You've earlier conceded your early iron would be poor quality anyway, so instead of using the poorer iron tools to make better iron tools, why not use the flint tools to make better iron tools?
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  5. - Top - End - #95
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Anymage View Post
    This world wouldn't necessarily have the specific ancestors of some of our domesticated plants/animals, but it would have domesticatable species. It's been done relatively recently and only took decades, with the big drawback that most of the easily domesticatable species in our world have already been domesticated.
    .
    If you're referring to things like the Russian fox experiments, those have been thoroughly discredited. Domestication is an evolutionary process that involves genetic changes and takes many generations. Dogs are probably the best example: they are so different from their wild ancestors, that wolves are freaked out even seeing dogs, in an uncanny valley sort of way.
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  6. - Top - End - #96
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Eldan View Post
    If you're referring to things like the Russian fox experiments, those have been thoroughly discredited. Domestication is an evolutionary process that involves genetic changes and takes many generations.


    I don't know about thoroughly.

    https://www.sciencealert.com/that-fa...ation-syndrome

    Holes have certainly been poked in the theory - but it's not exactly Cold Fusion levels of thoroughly discredited - the research is still considered to have provided useful information - it's just now considered to have been slightly oversold.
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  7. - Top - End - #97
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by georgie_leech View Post
    Any particular reason you insist on gathering your iron by hand, instead of with flint tools? It's not about developing stone technology per se, but tool technology. You've earlier conceded your early iron would be poor quality anyway, so instead of using the poorer iron tools to make better iron tools, why not use the flint tools to make better iron tools?
    I don't, as a matter of fact. Although I haven't been wildly vocal on the details, I see iron production as a smaller sideproject, while everyone else get's to work doing other stuff - primarily finding calories. If they want flint tools for that - by all means.

    I just wouldn't invest anything particularly in creating a stone age society - I'd skip that and go straight to iron. But yes, have a few stone knives and a few stone spears while you work on the iron, be my guest =)

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Flint tools are a stepping stone to everything else. Flint forms a huge part of early human development for several good reasons: it's abundant, strong and easy to work with. Our settlers could have some serviceable flint tools by the end of day 1. Those tools will make it much easier to gather food and firewood, to build shelters and kilns and all the other things they'll need long before they're ready to work iron.

    Heck, what do you propose they use even to dig up iron ore?

    As for steam - the work to get from primitive iron working to steam engines is way, way greater than the leap from flint to iron. There's a reason it took thousands of years to make that jump, even after civilisation was firmly established. It requires steel of a level of purity that you will never achieve with your early smelting technology, and it has to be worked to a level of precision that only the most skilled of smiths would even be able to appreciate, much less emulate. Get this wrong, and the whole thing will literally blow up in your face. Several of the early pioneers of steam power ended up plastered across the walls of their workshops because their steel wasn't pure enough, or their seams weren't straight enough, even with state-of-the-art 18th-century technology.
    There's a reason it took thousands of years - and that's lack of knowledge. Primarily. If you know how, all the need do is find the ressources and the tools. To build an atmospheric engine, you need much better steel than bog iron, you need better forges, better tools, better fuel. But the first step in all those things is iron.

    Not flint.

    And with an atmospheric steam engine, you have enough power to pump ground water from mines, meaning the world is basically your oyster: Down there (slightly dependant on where you dig) you'll find everything else you need: Copper, gold, all the stuff you need for early electronics and so on.

    And flint doesn't do any of that. Not at all.

    The point of this thread isn't 'how quickly can we create a society of stone age cavemen' - it's 'how quickly can something resembling mid-20th century be rebuilt'.

    And the proper answer to the proper question is: Fairly quickly, if you can gain a foothold on iron production.

    If you cannot get a foothold on iron production, you have every chance of going through an actual stone age. Lasting millenia.

  8. - Top - End - #98
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    To be clear, spinning wheels are a more efficient way to turn raw fiber into thread than drop spindles, but they are still very slow. To go from fiber to item of clothing, you are still looking at hundreds of hours of work.

    Actually getting fiber in the first place is also not exactly a walk in the park. If we're lucky enough to be starting in Egypt, we'd have access to both wild cotton and flax. Producing fiber from either of these takes enormous labor, and the wild varieties won't have the benefit of thousands of years of breeding.

    Animal fiber is also going to be somewhat slow. Moving into Iran means there are wild sheep available, and sheep are clearly fairly apt for domestication. Fortunately there's no need to worry about needing sheers, because wild type sheep shed. But again, lots of work.

    In terms of non-muscle powered tools, I think the obvious place to start is water power, and to a lesser extent wind power. That allows for things like sawmills and hammer mills and so forth, without nearly the engineering needs of steam engines. It's not the industrial revolution exactly, but you could use relatively simple starting tools to leapfrog to the late middle ages.
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  9. - Top - End - #99
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    WRT tools, I view some of it as allocation of human resources.

    A flint tool is a force multiplier; the work-hours put into flint tools will save many work hours in other areas; they may not be your end technology, but they'll speed you reaching iron. But, because they won't be a long-term to solution to problems, you don't need a LOT of people able to make flint tools, because they will be less useful once you've got iron tools... but some people making flint tools at the start will speed everything up, because the materials to make stone tools are readily available and readily worked, whereas the tools to make iron tools are neither readily available nor readily worked when all you have is 2000 naked people.

    Similarly, you're not going to need expert hunters long-term, because of the possibilities offered by agriculture... but you're probably going to want someone who knows how to set traps and hunt with a sling and spear, because you can do those relatively quickly, with little infrastructure, and those will help you survive until you can build that infrastructure.

    Even if you can start making iron tools a month after arrival, you have to survive for that month. And stone tools will help you survive easier, because they can get off the ground sooner.
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  10. - Top - End - #100
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    It seems difficult to me to obtain dependable enough agriculture in the first generation to forgo hunting anytime soon. Without much in the way of domesticated livestock, hunting is going to be too good of a protein source to ignore.
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  11. - Top - End - #101
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    I don't, as a matter of fact. Although I haven't been wildly vocal on the details, I see iron production as a smaller sideproject, while everyone else get's to work doing other stuff - primarily finding calories. If they want flint tools for that - by all means.

    I just wouldn't invest anything particularly in creating a stone age society - I'd skip that and go straight to iron. But yes, have a few stone knives and a few stone spears while you work on the iron, be my guest =)



    There's a reason it took thousands of years - and that's lack of knowledge. Primarily. If you know how, all the need do is find the ressources and the tools. To build an atmospheric engine, you need much better steel than bog iron, you need better forges, better tools, better fuel. But the first step in all those things is iron.

    Not flint.

    And with an atmospheric steam engine, you have enough power to pump ground water from mines, meaning the world is basically your oyster: Down there (slightly dependant on where you dig) you'll find everything else you need: Copper, gold, all the stuff you need for early electronics and so on.

    And flint doesn't do any of that. Not at all.

    The point of this thread isn't 'how quickly can we create a society of stone age cavemen' - it's 'how quickly can something resembling mid-20th century be rebuilt'.

    And the proper answer to the proper question is: Fairly quickly, if you can gain a foothold on iron production.

    If you cannot get a foothold on iron production, you have every chance of going through an actual stone age. Lasting millenia.
    The whole point of going for flint tools is to quickly get a tool that will greatly speed up the process of getting iron and other types of tools.

    Just making up numbers here, suppose that going directly for iron would take 1000 man hours of work. Suppose that getting decent flint tools takes 100 man hours, and using those tools in the steps required to get iron reduces the time requirement by 15%. If you go for flint first, then getting iron takes 100 + (1000 * 85%) = 950 hours. By going for flint, you actually get iron faster.

    That is what people have been advocating flint tools for. The point isn't to build on the flint tool technology to make better flint tools, but to quickly get a basic tool that you can then use to do your actual goal projects faster, more easily, and possibly with better results.
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  12. - Top - End - #102
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Flint tools are a stepping stone to everything else. Flint forms a huge part of early human development for several good reasons: it's abundant, strong and easy to work with. Our settlers could have some serviceable flint tools by the end of day 1.
    I'm not even sure you'd have to wait until the end of Day 1. In the class I took, one of the other beginners spit out a few workable spear points by the end of the workshop. (IIRC, it lasted around 3 or 4 hours, but this was a long time ago.) Granted, the guy who told us they were good makes at least part of his living teaching to bored people with money to spend, and AFAIK nobody actually tested whether those particular points could actually bring down a bison, but it was a shockingly fast transition from zero knowledge to producing sharp, pointy things in the general shape you want.

    Quote Originally Posted by jayem View Post
    Agriculture limited by evolution time, but have better selective breeding practices (how much so), and if starting equipment is allowed direct gene stuff
    You raise an interesting question I've always wondered about: Just how much did Mendel's insights really contribute to our knowledge of practical genetics? I mean, recessive alleles was a major revelation, but assuming we don't have immediate access to gene editing and gene sequencing, how much does knowledge of advanced concepts like epigenetics actually accelerate the domestication process? If you're selecting for a recessive trait, then it might be situationally useful to understand that some of the phenotypically dominant animals might be heterozygous and still useful as breeding stock, but in general it seems like breeding together plants and animals that present the desired phenotype and turning the rest into stir fry (and bringing in just enough wild new blood to minimize the inbreeding) is already one of the quickest way to see results.

    Or am I overlooking some important consideration?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    You need to go back at re-read what I said.

    None of that is correct.
    If you care to articulate the specific points you feel I misunderstood or mischaracterized, feel free to do so and I will address them the best I can. Otherwise, I'm not going to try to read your mind.

    It's not even like I'm not very specific. I've said that flint is a dead end.
    You specifically stated that if we pursue flint tools, everyone will become so invested in it that they'll just keep trying to improve flint until the guys who remember iron are long dead. That's pretty darn specific.

    Going for flint is fine. By all means. But I am all but certain that if you do, you get stuck there. You invest such a massive amount of time finding, working and using flint, that by the time you have a nice, sustainable society, the people who knew how to make iron are a couple of generations in the past, and you're stuck being a stone age cave man for the next 3000 years.
    Flint doesn't go anywhere. It gives you flint tools, and then that's as far as you will *EVER* get with flint. The very peak of flint tool evolution is a flint tool. Have your pick. A knife maybe?
    You seem to be under the impression that nobody else can be forward thinking and slightly dispassionate--that nobody else will recognize when they've gotten all the utility they can out of developing flint tools and move on, and that they'll simply get stuck trying to perfect the stone age because they're too stupid or too stubborn to know any better. But nobody here is advocating sinking a lot of time into perfecting flint tools, even after seeing obviously diminishing returns.

    Douglas explicitly spelled it out, as have others. We find flint (trivial, see you assume abundance, right?) We make knives, axes, and Clovis points. Douglas cited a hypothetical hundred hours, but I think that's a high estimate. We use those tools to make hunting, skinning, gathering wood, etc. easier on the way to the next goal. Some folks here think that goal is agriculture. Others (including me) are in your camp on going for metals. Either way, nobody has advocated spending the two or three generations you cited simply building up the flint society.

    The technology of flint is pretty simple. For other things, like smelting ore or assembling a geared mechanism--there is a lot of process engineering involved that makes it very time intensive to go from textbooks and old-world designs to a repeatable manufacturing process that can be applied on the new Earth. I might be wrong about this, but that trial-and-error, tweaking the details aspect seems like it would be trivial in developing flint tools. The big innovation was realizing that you have to shape the stone in a certain way, and if you have just one person familiar with flint knopping, then your entire group has a huge head start over the cave men randomly striking stones to see how they break. I simply don't see people (certainly nobody in this thread) getting so fixated on the sunk costs that they get stuck.
    Last edited by Xyril; 2020-03-05 at 02:28 PM.

  13. - Top - End - #103
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    You seem to be taking this all together way too seriously. Sorry, thank for chatting, have a nice evening (it's late, here).

  14. - Top - End - #104
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by warty goblin View Post
    Wikipedia suggests a maximum population density of about 22 people per square mile for hunter gatherers, which let's round to 20 to make the math nicer. So you need to spread out over about 4,000 square miles, or nearly four Rhode Islands under basically completely optimal circumstances. So our lucky 2000 are spread out over a considerable area, with no method of movement faster than their own two feet, and they're going to have to spread out very quickly so as not to starve. Coordination is going to be extremely hard in other words; certainly for people used to instant and effortless modern communication. This is before you get into thorny questions like equipment; i.e. do people have shoes? If not, they're in for a world of hurt, followed by very nasty infections and probable death, because most people don't have feet callused enough to handle long distance barefoot locomotion, and the natural world is full of rocks, sticks, thorns and occasionally nasty stinging arthropods.
    Just now starting to read through this (very!) interesting thread, but I think you've got a bit of an error there with your math. If a max population density of 20 hunter gathers per one square mile, for 2000 people, you'll need 100 square miles, not 4000...

    Sorry if this has already been brought up later in the thread; as I said, just getting started reading ;)

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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Why are we even talking about the time needed to learn to knap flint? The starting premise was that we'd have all the relevant experts we need in our first generation of colonists. Flint-knapping might be a fairly rare skill nowadays, but there are still experts in it. Recruit a few of them to be among our 2,000. Especially since the folks who still know how to knap flint tend to also have a lot of other skills that would be useful in the new society.

    As for textiles... Sure, wild sheep have wool (albeit not as much as our modern breeds). But wild sheep are mean. If you're going to try to harvest enough wool from wild sheep to clothe your population, you're going to end up with dead settlers. Probably most of the shepherds would survive, but not all of them.

    Actually, you're going to have similar problems with most of the animals we'd like to domesticate. Think of a raging bull: That's the result of thousands of years of selection to make them more docile. Think of what the wild ancestors must have been like.
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Which is why I've said the 'experimental archaeologists' and suchlike would be vital to the colony success. Much of what we know about flint-knapping, for example came from such archaeologists who expended much time studying old flints, re-learning the skills to produce them, observing them in use [so a butcher uses one to butcher an carcass etc], then refining the design from the 'field testing'.
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Are flint and other cherts common enough? There's at least a little bog iron within walking distance nearly everywhere that there is enough rainfall for farming. Flint and chert occur in limestone layers, which are far less common, I think? Now you might get lucky. If there is plenty of chert nearby, or better yet flint, then sure, make use of it.

    If there isn't any significant amount of flint or chert within a few hundred miles, the group will just have to make do with wood and bone tools until the iron can be processed, yes? Or do you all think it would be worthwhile to travel hundreds of miles one-way to get it rather than make some bone tools to process nearby iron?
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by gomipile View Post
    Are flint and other cherts common enough?
    Well, flint is pretty common where I come from, which may be colouring my thinking at this point. I can see using bone or wood instead - but I have no idea how you would go about shaping a tool out of those materials, without having some other tool to start with. Is there an easy answer to that?

    Related question: what do our settlers arrive with? I assume they're not naked - do they just have their everyday clothes? Do they get enough warning of what's happening to grab appropriate clothes and maybe some tools from their wardrobes? How about what's normally in their pockets? If they get to keep that much, then there's likely a handful of decent tools arriving with them. Or is that cheating?
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Well, flint is pretty common where I come from, which may be colouring my thinking at this point. I can see using bone or wood instead - but I have no idea how you would go about shaping a tool out of those materials, without having some other tool to start with. Is there an easy answer to that?
    For some simple shapes, yes, i think. All you need is some roughly textured rocks of various shapes to rub the wood or bone against to abrade it into shape. It'll take some time, but should be enough to shape simple spear heads, digging sticks, etc.

    Suitable abrasive rocks should be each enough to find, as many types of stone will work for that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Harnel View Post
    where is the atropal? and does it have a listed LA?

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    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Related question: what do our settlers arrive with? I assume they're not naked - do they just have their everyday clothes? Do they get enough warning of what's happening to grab appropriate clothes and maybe some tools from their wardrobes? How about what's normally in their pockets? If they get to keep that much, then there's likely a handful of decent tools arriving with them. Or is that cheating?
    From the OP:

    Quote Originally Posted by Durkoala View Post
    Now, let's drop them in an uninhabited replica of Earth, around the Mediterranean area. This is a planet that has no resources depleted by humans, and all the creatures that were driven off or hunted to extinction roam freely. The new arrivals have nothing but their bodies and their brains: no clothes, no technology. For the sake of fairness, nobody in our small army has any condition that will render them helpless or dead if deprived of modern medicine. The deaf, bipolar and those in need of glasses and other such things are out of luck, however.
    It's since shifted a little to assume a more stringent selection process instead of "grab some experts and dump them", but I have a feeling that allowing them to bring back tools would skew the results significantly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gomipile View Post
    If there isn't any significant amount of flint or chert within a few hundred miles, the group will just have to make do with wood and bone tools until the iron can be processed, yes? Or do you all think it would be worthwhile to travel hundreds of miles one-way to get it rather than make some bone tools to process nearby iron?
    Shells are another option for scraping and cutting tools, and available in bulk if you're near the sea. Obsidian also works but that's more rare. Axes and adzes can be made with other types of stone, they're less about a very sharp edge and more about a decent edge and some brute force.

    You can start by dropping river boulders to break them, then chip or grind to get something approaching an edge and the shape you want. For early shaping of wood fire is really important. You can burn just the bit you want to remove with an ember, scrape out the char, and repeat until you have something you can jam your rock into. Now you have an axe. the channel "Primitive Technology" on Youtube demonstrates this. The axe worked pretty well for being stone, and lasted too.
    Last edited by Excession; 2020-03-05 at 10:14 PM.

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    Thanks for all your answers! This has blown up so much that my initial writeup of answering posts has had to be scrapped (several times) because there were too many things that I wanted to reply to being posted.

    Quote Originally Posted by Imbalance View Post
    QQ: did the 2k sign up for this willingly or were they plucked & dumped naked and afraid in an alien wilderness?
    I've been assuming that they signed up willingly and had an idea of what they were getting into, so they know roughly where they'll be set down and what they're expected to do. Just being thrown into an empty world with 1999 strangers sounds like a really good recipe for chaos and infighting.

    Quote Originally Posted by veti View Post
    Related question: what do our settlers arrive with? I assume they're not naked - do they just have their everyday clothes? Do they get enough warning of what's happening to grab appropriate clothes and maybe some tools from their wardrobes? How about what's normally in their pockets? If they get to keep that much, then there's likely a handful of decent tools arriving with them. Or is that cheating?
    I was actually thinking that they would be naked, or at least couldn't bring any equipment with them. A uniform prison-style jumpsuit is probably the most clothing that I'd allow. Come to think of it, you could probably 'smuggle' information through in the form of tattoos and tan the skins when the owner dies to preserve the knowledge, but anything more, like implanting tools, would be cheating the terms of starting from nothing.

    ---------------------------------
    There's been a lot of things I didn't consider (such as domestication of animals, oops) and it's definitely been enlightening to read through this thread as it develops. I'm surprised that there's been comparatively little discussion about preserving the information the First Generation have in their heads. Even if paper is too difficult to make with stone age tools, surely information can be carved onto wooden tablets?

    Also my uneducated suggestion about the industrialisation problem: How hard would it be to create an iron-less (or low-iron) steam engine using clay furnaces as boilers?
    ----------------------------------
    I'll add more later, as it's very late here right now. I'm glad so many people have found this a good topic to talk about, though!
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Wooden tablets would have quite the chance to not last long, if they weren't properly seasoned and maybe stained or something similar. Clay would be the way to go for durability. If the climate was such that dry storage could be found, as well as reeds (hey, we can hope, the Nile is on the Mediterranean after all), people might attempt to make papyrus.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Durkoala View Post
    I've been assuming that they signed up willingly and had an idea of what they were getting into, so they know roughly where they'll be set down and what they're expected to do. Just being thrown into an empty world with 1999 strangers sounds like a really good recipe for chaos and infighting.

    I was actually thinking that they would be naked, or at least couldn't bring any equipment with them. A uniform prison-style jumpsuit is probably the most clothing that I'd allow. Come to think of it, you could probably 'smuggle' information through in the form of tattoos and tan the skins when the owner dies to preserve the knowledge, but anything more, like implanting tools, would be cheating the terms of starting from nothing
    These details are far more important than how quickly they make use of flint vs. iron, as this matters to who survives the first 72 hours. When it's a sign-up, that hopefully includes training and leadership, with clear roles and specialists corresponding to what is needed and what is known about the new world. At least, in theory.

    The downside comes from the unseen variables among the volunteers. What would motivate someone to want to take on the task of seeding humankind on another world, leaving everything else behind? You'll have a great many fantasy survivalists who have never had to actually subsist on their wits and what nature provides, and are only marginally suited to the skills they relied upon to get selected when the simulations end. They'll be the ones unable to fully grasp the desperate reality that their lives are going to depend on this knowledge day after day after day. What you can also count on is that a certain percentage of the population will bring with them their own agendas, following the program as much as it fits their needs, but their ultimate plan will have something to do with the idea that humanity got it all wrong the first time around and that it's up to them to fix it. You will have closeted radicals and fundamentalists in this group, for good or ill, despite every intent to establish a firm and neutral society of productive actors, and their choices will make things difficult for the others. And I absolutely guarandamntee that at least one or two psychopaths sign up with nefarious intent to either destroy this effort or rule unopposed through guile and force.

    Yes, it's a fun thought exercise to imagine smart people working together in harmony to re-invent the wheel, set up Old MacDonald to ee-i-ee-i-oh, and see how fast they can speed run through all the levels that our ancestors spent millenia to overcome just for us to take for granted. Unfortunately, the cost of many of the things we enjoy in our already-utopia came about to contend with the ever-present dark side of human nature. There's a reason NASA and other groups are examining, in addition to all the technical hurdles involved in just getting to and starting an off-world colony, how best to handle crime and punishment in space. With a starting count of 2,000 bright-eyed and bushy-tailed futurists eager to sing camp songs and build choo-choo trains within a generation, give it a month until the first murder and maybe five years before they separate into factions and warlike competition. Their first tools are just as likely to be weapons as anything meant to farm, hunt, or mine.

    It's also a faulty assumption that these people will want to replicate our technological history. They may arrive on this pristine world and decide that they can do things better without the kind of human progress that concensus says has wrought destruction of Earth's global climate. They may decide not to burn enormous amounts of matter to fuel industry as we know it, to leave metals in the ground instead of clawing up the firmament to extract them, and to only take what they need from what they can find and contribute as much to their environment as they consume and utilize. If it's already paradise, who'd want to mess that up? Who among our best and brightest 2,000 could stand in the midst of an entire planet of unspoiled natural beauty and dare to think they could improve upon it?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durkoala View Post
    (such as domestication of animals, oops)
    Worse than that (and I'm sorry if I'm duplicating someone else's point, I've tried to catch up, but I have skimmed too much to be sure), is the domestication of plants. It is hard to convey just how resilient modern wheat is, and how ridiculous its yield is, but it is not a combination that can be easily reproduced without access to wheat strains from all over the globe. Even if you had Borlaug himself in the 2000 people, he would not have access to the Japanese and American strains he mixed together to form the modern dwarf variant with thick stalks.

    And really, this might apply to animals too: without the footwork of the migration periods, I'm not sure that the Mediterranean would even have cows or pigs to be domesticated, never mind how long it'd take to turn the Bos primigenius into Bessy.

    That said, on the other hand, I am strangely surprised it took this long to reference the Primitive Technology you tube channel (thanks, Excession). He does an excellent job of showing how you can build up from scratch. But if you read the descriptions, you also get a feeling for how long some of his projects take - sometimes months for what look like simple things like a smelter that barely produces any iron. And most discouraging, his cultivation projects yield suspiciously low amount of food for the effort involved. I am with those that said that above all other things, that'd be the bottleneck that'd kill these people: food. It is a reality that regardless of technological levels, before the 20th century post-industrial revolution, 90+% of the population was needed to feed the group. Of those 2000 people, only 200 would even be available to rebuild tech. Everyone else would need to spend every waking hour feeding those 200 and themselves.

    And honestly, I give them a 50/50 that the first winter will just kill them all. For three months, nothing grows, there is nothing to hunt, and stored food just rots. I've played enough Rimworld to know winters are deadly.

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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    Concerning winter, at least this scenario is around the Mediterranean, and not New England, or, worse yet, New France. While citrus wouldn't be in the area without human intervention, the winters are mild enough in much of the Med that it is commercially grown.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durkoala View Post
    ------------------------------
    There's been a lot of things I didn't consider (such as domestication of animals, oops) and it's definitely been enlightening to read through this thread as it develops. I'm surprised that there's been comparatively little discussion about preserving the information the First Generation have in their heads. Even if paper is too difficult to make with stone age tools, surely information can be carved onto wooden tablets?
    The best medium for writing stuff down that would be generally available...not dependent on location...would be leather, specifically parchment/vellum. With stone, wood, and shell tools you might not get beautiful sheets like you see at museums, but it would get the job done. Water and lime are the other mandatory components, plus some other stuff if you want to stretch it thin and make it white.

    Dependent on where they were in "The Mediterranean" (a circuit the covers the North African coast, the Levantine coast, the Bosporus and the Adriatic, as well as Southern Europe) there would also be grasses and bark to make the equivalent of papyrus or amate. However...these people are on foot, so wherever they are is wherever they are. There's no popping off to the Fertile Crescent for some grain-grass samples.

    Though this brings up another example of a old-fashioned, uncommon skill that would suddenly get really important: scribing is not just writing something down, it's creating legible, well laid-out presentation...with illustrations...to communicate information. Since pens would be rudimentary--trimmed quills or reeds--artistic skill, specifically calligraphy and pen-and-ink drawing, would also come into play.

    edit to add: To say nothing of the act of writing a comprehensive guide to a discipline, which is also a skill. I used to work with PhDs writing articles and grant proposals and...not everybody has the level of communication or ability to convey the big picture, the general principles, in a way that glosses well.

    Also my uneducated suggestion about the industrialisation problem: How hard would it be to create an iron-less (or low-iron) steam engine using clay furnaces as boilers?
    Boilers have a lot of ways to fail, and if they do so while in operation they go boom; how much they go boom is a function of how badly the chamber fails versus how high the pressure reached. Historically, BLEVEs were an enormous risk because it's hard to keep the pressure steady (because you keep the pressure steady by regulating the quantity of water and heat), and raising the pressure to do...whatever the boiler does, like drive an engine...faster means pressing the limits of the boiler design. Hence the massive boiler explosions on trains and boats in the Steam Era: try to go too fast (more pressure, more temperature) and the chamber fails spectacularly.

    Indeed, the idea of boiler was available...in the form of aeolipiles...long before the technology to manufacture a big chamber that could power labor that wouldn't fail was. You need a durable manifold of even thickness...because thin points are failure points...plus a method of joining (welds and rivets) pieces that don't leave gaps (which steam will worsen until failure happens)...plus a design that can be maintained because operation will cause wear and tear that could lead to failure.

    I'm pretty sure conventional clay chambers wouldn't hack it.
    Last edited by Yanagi; 2020-03-06 at 03:23 PM.

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    I'll reiterate what I said before about information preservation and mechanical assistance: clay tablets and water wheels. The first is durable, cheap, and not hideously labor intensive to produce, and can also bookend on pottery production.

    The second can be set up using wood and minimal metal components (so cheaply), and allows for a lot of powered machine tools. It also removes the need for vast amounts of charcoal production or coal mining as compared to steam, which will be quite handy given the chronic labor shortages that will be the usual state of affairs for centuries given the starting population .
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    Default Re: How long would it take to bootstrap modern civilisation again from nothing?

    The population problem will go away relatively quickly. The knowledge brought should include fermentation, which gives alcohol. Alcohol gives us a disinfectant, and we darn well know germ theory and handwashing. Lye soap is pretty easy, not requiring metal to make (wood buckets). Childbirth should end up being generally safe and sterile, without the major infection problems.

    The WHO rate for C-sections, last I checked, was 11% (recommended/"normal"). Side note, there's a hospital in Las Colinas TX that had a ~51% C-section rate -- do your research! I'll assume that about half of the C-sections can be handled normally via baby manipulation (turn the kid in the womb, a skill that some still have) but that 5% of pregnancies will have problems.

    I believe it to be a good assumption that someone who has successfully delivered a baby is less likely to have a problem on a future pregnancy (it's true with livestock, thus the term "proven," and a certain amount of the pregnancy problems are related to the mother's anatomy variations).

    There's also a 25% miscarriage rate, much higher than many people realize... however, a miscarriage is typically recovered from quickly, so on average we can ignore it in our fertility calculations.

    15 years of fertility on average (assuming our population is between 20 & 30 and stops having kids by 40)
    1 baby every 2 years
    7.5 pregnancies per woman.
    x 1000 women
    =7,500 kids in generation 2
    Minus 10% (+-) for various bad things happening related to Labor & Delivery =
    -100 from Generation 1
    -750 kids
    Net population growth from reproduction into Gen 2 6,650. Population when Gen2 hits adulthood = 8650.

    These rates are reasonable and can certainly be exceeded. My father was one of 11 kids in a poor coal mining town in AR.

    After 40 years you'll hit 32,000 adults, and then the generation after that gets you to around 120,000... or possibly more.

    I don't know what the figure is to have a sustainable population to support all of the tech we are talking about, but I expect that 2,000-3,000 people devoted to it will cover most of it, leaving the other 5,000 handling food production and childcare.

    I am expecting lots and lots of the diet will come from fishing, which at this point should be incredibly time-efficient versus hunting. Fish + salt + fruits/nuts (tree crops) + greens + whatever grains are found/made available.



    I would also argue for an early (<10 year) split with a second colony/city in a different area to reduce vulnerability to drought, tornado, hurricane, wildfire, plague of locusts, Pompeii, or other natural disasters. This ideally would give access to different resources.

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    Yeah, seafood in general would be incredibly handy in the early stages. Mussels, clams, crabs - you can collect these simply by finding the sea, pretty much any time of year, without any special equipment. And they haven't changed much over the past 30000 years. With luck, they can keep us going long enough to figure out fishing nets and boats, of some sort.
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