If you count a human generation as 20 years (until the twentieth century, when it was probably nearer 25 years), a hundred years is five generations. A thousand years is 50 generations. So the Roman Empire began about 100 generations ago. Ten thousand years is 500 generations. That takes us back to the stone age, the neolithic agricultural revolution, the first cities. Bacteria in a petrie dish go through 500 generations in a matter of hours. Our species has gone through huge amounts of change in a very short time.
If I compare the human experience with that of the birds I see in our garden, they go through a generation in a year. They find a mate, make a nest, have babies, feed them, teach them how to look after themselves, and then off they go. 500 years ago they almost certainly did exactly the same thing, minus the traffic noise and other human-created interference.
I remember my father showing me a diary written by a great-uncle of his at the end of the nineteenth century. In it he complained that the world was changing so fast that nobody knew where they were any more. It would seem he was right.
My aim with this blog is to try to make sense of our story. One generation at a time, I will explore what the world was like for the people alive at that time, going further and further back from now.
PS. It has been commented that I am focusing on the western world. That is true – for now. As we go back the leading edge of human expression shifts to different locations in the world. I am sure that by the time we reach generation 500 we will be in Mesopotamia, the Fertile Crescent.
PPS. If you want to make the backwards journey for yourself, here is a link to the start of the blog.