Monday, April 4, 2011

Pennsic Runestone Project

I came across something touching today: The Pennsic Runestone Project. Members of the Society for Creative Anachronism will be erecting a 9 ton stone in memory of those members who have passed before. A community carving project, members will be able to carve a section of the stone with artwork.

Unlike any other media, stone memorials present a permanent witnesses to lives lived, a thousand years ago. No doubt, a 9 ton stone will present a permanent witness to our lives, a thousand years from now. But what will people make of it?

It's an interesting thought how future archaeologists might interpret a runestone in Butler, Pennsylvania, with carvings in memory of Thorbjorn, or Leif Ivarson. Our digital media won't last that long, neither will newspaper obituaries. Our houses, or skyscrapers won't be around too inform future archaeologists. And our current inhumation techniques don't leave bones and grave goods to examine.

But that SCA runestone will still be standing.

1 comment:

  1. Our skyscrapers may well be around in a thousand years, particularly their foundations. In the event of a massive social collapse in that time, our largest buildings will be too expensive to tear down, and probably for a long time too valuable. Most of our skyscrapers can be expected to last hundreds of years in some form with even basic maintenance.
    While they may not be habitable for much of that, the concrete and steel will take a long time to degrade even once the the outer cladding had been damaged or removed, and it's hard for me to believe that sturdy shelter wouldn't be readily used even if our culture was knocked back to the stone age.
    Still, all things pass and decay, and once our towers reached critical structural failure, they would fall... into massive heaps of concrete and steel. Perhaps these would be mined for material to build cruder structures, as so many Roman structures were. Even when everything above ground was hauled away however, the foundations reach several stories into the earth, and the footings go even deeper.
    If humanity could crawl out from our assumed cataclysm, it's eventual archeologists will be able to look at those tens of thousands of cubic feet of steel-reinforced concrete and project the kind of building that would require such effort. They'd do this in the same way that we can project the domes and arches, or the complex heating systems, of the Baths of Caracalla from the masonry piers left today.