Studying Moments in Time

When we first began to focus in on a specific historical time and place to study, we began with the eleventh century — one thousand years ago seemed like a nice round number, and as our primary interests run more towards humble handcrafts and the rustic lives of regular people than to aristocratic finery, there seemed little incentive to draw us to the later centuries where elite life became ever more elaborate.

However, as we delved further, we kept finding new threads which pulled us to earlier and later periods — the clothing styles of the bronze age, the intellectual pursuits of the renaissance, the cross-cultural contacts of the Roman empire, and a dozen other fascinating avenues of study.

But trying to understand the full sweep of fifteen thousand years of human history was an obvious impossibility, so we settled on a compromise — we’d retain 1,000 years before the present (YBP) as our “home base,” but would also select a scattering of additional points in time to “visit.”

As currently envisioned, these points are spaced evenly every two hundred and fifty years over the last two thousand years, and then in larger increments back to the re-establishment of human populations in the British Isles following the last ice age.

The resulting timeline, displayed below, gives us a dozen moments in time to focus on: somewhat narrowed from the vast scope of all human history, but still an embarrassment of riches.

Downsides of Increasing Centralization of Power

I know that many people in our Society are drawn to the pomp and finery of the nobility in the High Medieval period, and I can see the appeal — such pretty outfits! — but on some level it’s hard for me to escape the gnawing knowledge that this gaudy display is only one face of a system of profound inequality.

Continue reading Downsides of Increasing Centralization of Power