Artefacts, generations and scale

Today I spent a few minutes thinking about what it is about artefacts – Harappan, Roman, Mesopotamian – that has such an impact on me, personally.

I think it’s because I often think in terms of generations.

You know your parents, your grandparents. If you’re lucky you have some memory of your great-grandparents, or have been told about life with them. That’s 3 generations including you. A generation is about 30 years, so that’s about 90-100 years back, give or take.

The Industrial Revolution matured about 200 years ago, so your great-grandparents’ great-grandparents would have been alive around then to experience it.

Shivaji was born about 390 years ago – 13 generations. That’s the gap between you and your great-grandparents four times over.

The founding of Islam, about 1400 years ago is 45 generations ago and Christianity 66. Now it’s just numbers.

But the Harappan dancing girl (National Museum Delhi) and the Priest in Sindhi Ajruk (National Museum Karachi) are 4,500 years old. That’s 150 generations ago – well over ten times in the past as Shivaji is.

That’s when the scale really hit me.