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Medieval setting on earth in the future

Discussion in 'World Building' started by trentonian7, Mar 5, 2016.

  1. trentonian7

    trentonian7 Troubadour

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    I've been considering creating a world set several hundred years in the future on earth, but in a world that has reverted largely to medieval or classical technology and institutions.

    I'm wondering, if the majority of humanity were to die and modern society were to collapse in the coming year, how long would it take for our brick, concrete, and steel buildings to wear away? I want some ruins but my ideal setting would be one that appears mostly untouched.
     
  2. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    I watched a video, "life after humans". The premise behind it was if humans suddenly dissappeared, how long would it take for nature to reassert itself. Let's just say within 50 years, roads would be largely gone (covered by weeds, grass etc.) and depending on climate, most wood houses would be heaps of rubble if not burned up by uncontrolled wildfires. The video estimates that it would be 150+ years for steel bridges to collapse and for skyscrapers to begin falling under their own weight. To disappear entirely, it would likely take at least double that time frame, if not more. To be safe, I would say 500-1000 years would be a good amount of time to have things looking pristine, but still have areas of ruins (likely those in the dry climtes)


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  3. AndrewLowe

    AndrewLowe Troubadour

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    You should totally check out Shadow & Claw by Gene Wolfe. It's a science fantasy novel set something like half a million years in the future. The writing is utterly beautiful and I've really never read anything else quite like it.
     
  4. AndrewLowe

    AndrewLowe Troubadour

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    In general, I think it's an interesting concept that hasn't been overdone in literature.

    On the other hand if I see another gd fantasy apocalypse television show, I might just lose my marbles...
     
  5. indonesiancat

    indonesiancat Dreamer

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    Hm... Considering the time it takes for buildings and roads to decay, I think having ominous, city ruins in the horizons create a slight hassle in the way you're going to make humans revisit feudalesque systems off the middle ages.

    To put it this way: somehow, some few humans has to survive in order for this change to happen. If it is an apocalyptic, nuclear war that occures, the world will become pretty much desolate. Which makes the urban decay different from, say, humans dying from some incredibly contagious illness. Or for that matter, an intelligent A.I that doesn't access warheads. The remaining people, granted they don't live in stone age societies already, would take up a life in scavenging.

    This is something known as every postapocalyptic movie and videogame ever. The likelyhood off it remaining Jason Vorheeses in scrapyards in scrapyards for all eternity isn't high. If flora and fauna survives, the remaining humans, albeit scavenging humans would simply tavel around different locations, getting whatever valuables they could. In order for these humans to basically live in feudal kingdoms again, would be if they would migrate so far from the cities, that over the generations, they began crafting their own tools and plowing their own fields again. It might take around 500-1000 years for humanity to become isolated enough to develop feudal kingdoms again. Granted, these people would have had to live away from civilization so long they forgot what a gun is.
     
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  6. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    Also, read Pavane, by Keith Roberts.
     
  7. Jim Aikin

    Jim Aikin Scribe

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    In your scenario, I would guess that the city areas would still appear quite lumpy, and there would be girders sticking up here and there. The towns, less lumpy but still visibly filled with irregular hummocks. These areas would be dangerous for foot travel because of the danger of sub-surface hollow areas caving in without warning.

    Bear in mind, also, that there would be pleasant-looking but deadly areas around the former nuclear power plants! Look at some photos of Chernobyl as it appears now -- lush and green, but your humans would know not to live there, because those who live there get cancer and die.
     
  8. Jerseydevil

    Jerseydevil Minstrel

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    Steel would rust within a few decades without constant maintenance. Bricks would last much, much, longer, but will crumble over time. Stone is permanent. Concrete buildings would crumble, however, as they are reinforced with steel re-bar. Within a century these will be mostly rubble piles. Unless there is a major destructive force, like a nuke, large cities will be marked by large piles of debris and rubble that may be covered by plant life (this is happening in Detroit already). Within about half a millennia or so, most large structures will be gone, though this does depend on the weather and climate, among other factors.
     
  9. Jim Aikin

    Jim Aikin Scribe

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    Hmm. I could be entirely wrong about this, but I seem to recall reading that the Romans invented not only concrete but also rebar, and that that's why the Colosseum is still standing! And the aqueducts.
     
  10. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    You aren't wrong. They did invent all those things. But they are falling apart even now, requiring a tremendous amount of maintenance to keep them even in its present state. Were that to cease, it would be like any other building.


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  11. Jim Aikin

    Jim Aikin Scribe

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    Hmm. When did this modern maintenance start? No more recently than the 19th century, I would imagine. So the ruins survived from, let's say, 475 C.E., when Rome fell and maintenance would essentially have ceased, to maybe 1875, with no maintenance at all. Gradually crumbling the entire time, to be sure.

    A great deal depends, I'm sure, on the quality of the original construction and also on weather conditions. The Mayan ruins were quickly overgrown by jungle, for example. And in earthquake country a major quake would bring something like the Colosseum down in a hurry.
     
  12. Saigonnus

    Saigonnus Auror

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    From what I understand, the concrete the use is denser than what we use today, letting less moisture in to affect the metal substructure.

    I think maintenance has always been going on... Not sure specifically when it began. I was reading the other day that much of the Colosseum was deliberately destroyed around 1000ad to recycle the bronze fixtures, leaving only the "base" standing. This would have to be the strongest, thickest part of the construction, perhaps the reason why it still stands today.

    I still think that with few exceptions, buildings wouldn't last more than 500 years in most places.

    Places near the coast, with alot of salts on the air, or with lots of humidity wouldn't fare even that well. The salts break down the stone very fast, so that even a house 150 years old is not recognizable as such.

    Dry place, Like Las Vegas, the buildings could last even longer than 1000 years. Just depends on other factors like natural disasters or sand storms, which might speed up the process of collapse.


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  13. DMThaane

    DMThaane Sage

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    Actually, the properties of roman concrete are quite unique compared to modern concrete. Roman concrete wasn't reinforced with metal, so wouldn't suffer from said metal degrading inside of it. It also displays different microscopic properties that are currently being researched and that grant it considerable survivability, even in earthquake-prone environments and harsh marine conditions. To quote Wikipedia (citing 'Unlocking the secrets of Al-tobermorite in Roman seawater concrete') 'Usable examples of Roman concrete exposed to harsh marine environments have been found to be 2000 years old with little or no wear.' it's not the best constructed sentence but it gets the point across. The Pantheon, the largest unreinforced concrete dome in the world, is still standing mostly in spite of human rather than because of them. The best we do is keep the weeds down.

    Basically roman concrete is kind of awesome and in the event of complete societal collapse the Pantheon will outlast any modern skyscraper by hundreds if not thousands of years. Take that, People's Front of Judea. Modern cities on the hand, yeah, they'd go surprisingly quickly.
     
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