(This question is quite similar to How do you prove you're from the future?)

I am an average person in the year 2016, living in, say, the USA. However I suddenly get transported back in time to 300 BC, to Persia. I did not prepare to this time-travel in advance. To be more precise:

  • I'm aware that I've just undergone time-travel.
  • Only me and my clothes have undergone time-travel - nothing else (no time machine).
  • I know approximately what year it is (say, within an error of century), and I know approximately where I am (mid-west Asia).

When I land in Persia, I'm near a populated city, and two Persian "policemen" approach me, with their spears. I seem very alien to them, it frightens them, so they want to kill me. My goal is to stay alive. I don't speak their language so it's hard to communicate with them. I need to act fast. My only chance is to show them something amazing, that I learned in the future.

What can I do?

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    $\begingroup$ You can't speak the language, and they're already frightened and aggressive? Showing amazing somethings can probably wait until it doesn't startle them enough to strike first. Prove you don't mean harm - show empty hands, kneel, cower, even purr or whine to show no threat... and you might live long enough to learn the language and make your case. (it's fun to imagine what you can prove, but it won't keep you alive, sorry). $\endgroup$
    – Megha
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 6:09
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    $\begingroup$ They will probably take you to their King, who might keep you :) $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 6:21
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    $\begingroup$ I'm curious as to why it would be important to explain to people that you're from the future? What do you gain from it? Also, would you yourself be aware that this had happened? Would you not be more likely to assume you're on a film set or something to begin with? $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 8:52
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    $\begingroup$ Being from the future does not give you special abilities. Unless you are above average interested in mathematics, physics or geometry. Most modern age skills would not be of much use in ancient times. Chances are you would appear slow to them because you have lived most of your life depending on computers and google to help you figure things out. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 13:50
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    $\begingroup$ Not sure it it's a dupe but the other question wasn't closed. Why should this question be treated differently folks? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 17:18

3 Answers 3


First of all, if you go back to the 300BC you will find yourself in the Seleucid empire which controlled the area at the time following the division of the Macedonian empire as expanded under by Alexander the Great.

If any officials approach you they will most probably be either the city guard or posted soldiers in the service of Seleucus.

Unless you've gone out of your way to look extraordinary by wearing blinky lights or the such there is no reason why these guards or soldiers would be afraid of you. They are serving in one of the most cosmopolitan areas of the time and are used to seeing people with exotic features or dress.

Depending on the mandate of the officials they might not feel inclined to deal with you unless you try to enter the city or if you are harassing people. They are keeping watch over an area that might or might not be under threat of revolt due to the presence of occupying forces. They are busy. They don't care unless you make them care.

The first thing that will annoy them about you when they do care is that you are unable to make account for who you are and what you are doing there. You might be showing them some amazing things, but you don't respond when they ask you if you intend to sell the objects in the marked and you don't seem to understand that you need to pay the tax to enter the city with merchandise. You might also be an entertainer, but your show is more confusing than compelling.

The officials are struggling to understand why you won't leave them alone. Maybe you need assistance with something, but after a while chances are that they will begin to wonder if you are a bit crazy. Maybe they will attempt to drive you off or give you a beating to make you leave them alone.

You would have had a lot better chance if you had bothered to learn a bit of one of the ancient languages spoken in the area of the time or if you had brought precious metals or gems to bribe the guards to let you into the city. Once in the city you might or might not be able to find men of science and show them enough mathematics to convince them that you were worth listening to. Then after learning and perfecting their spoken language you might after some years be able to explain the concept of moving through time. Upon which you might be deemed insane, or possibly divine depending on whether they actually believe you. Either way you would have to prepare yourself for your life being changed in unpredictable ways.

You would probably fare better in the past if you never try to explain that you're from the future at all.

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    $\begingroup$ "there is no reason why these guards or soldiers would be afraid of you." - not so sure about that. you'd likely be a foot taller or more than they are. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ @DenisdeBernardy are you easily frightened by the appearance of somebody who is a foot taller than you? As stated in my answer the people of the then Seleucid empire would be used to seeing people of various physicalities. Especially if they were posted soldiers left over by the Macedonian expansion of Alexander the Great. Some lonesome random dude of unusual height might not appear as much more than a novelty to them. Keep in mind that even though the mean height of the time was shorter than today, there would be occational taller people. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 19:21
  • $\begingroup$ Not the slightest, but a person who is a foot taller than average tends to get attention. Even nowadays, if anything - would you seriously argue you wouldn't notice a 6.5, 7, or 7.5 foot person (depending on where you live) coming around the corner? It's... like... huge.... Average population size in the Roman Empire was likely ~168cm. Someone of average height or slightly above that today would have passed as a massive warrior back then, hence my disagreeing that someone from the future would attract no attention even if clothed like locals. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 22:24
  • $\begingroup$ @DenisdeBernardy attracting attention and inciting fear are two very different things. And also, being of tall stature does not equal being taken for a warrior. Guards or posted soldiers alike would have a lot of experience in sizing up potential threats. An average joe of our time might be tall to them, but by demeanor he would seem childlike and soft. And as stated, the guards are working, they are not at liberty to investigate things at length based on their own personal curiosities. So they might try to ask some questions, but why would they do more. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 22:47
  • $\begingroup$ Simple: because in contrast to you, they weren't wedded to the idea that freedom of movement is normal. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 22:59
  1. The minute detail of the weaving of your clothes.
  2. The futuristic diseases that your body carries that they are not immune to.
  3. Sand down some glass, "invent" telescope and revolutionize their world.
  4. "Invent" Windmill.
  5. "Invent" other things.

Don't try with predicting history. Telling what happens could rewrite it and make them suspicious when it doesn't come true.

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    $\begingroup$ They may be highly exposed, but most of our diseases today are highly resistant in ways that they could only imagine back then due to modern medicine's constant arms race against bacteria's capacity for evolution. Honestly a person from now going back to 300bc could potentially wipe out the populace. $\endgroup$
    – lilHar
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 7:36
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    $\begingroup$ I agree that it is a possibility. But regarding resistance. Our main concern today is that the diseases are resistant to our modern treatments, like antibiotics. This might or might not make a difference to a population that didn't depend on antibiotics or other modern treatments. When it came to common illnesses like the cold or the flu they would similary to today be exposed to new strains every year. It would depend on chance or luck whether a strain from the future would be devestating or hardly noticable. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ @liljoshu I don't have time to invent anything (let alone that as an average person, I don't know in enough detail how these things really work). If I had with me, say, my smartphone, I could show it to ancient people and that would probably be amazing enough, but I don't have a smartphone or anything electronic with me. $\endgroup$
    – Lior
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 8:54
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    $\begingroup$ More to the point, I'm wondering how an "exotic" future disease would be impressive to a civilisation that didn't even have a germ theory of disease. $\endgroup$
    – Deepak
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 14:34
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    $\begingroup$ @Deepak they would probably think you brought the plague with you. They would make them more suspicious/angry/scared rather than belief you're from the future. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 16:23

I wouldn't/you can't. Unless you know something specific that will happen (or be heard about) in that exact part of the world in a fairly short amount of time ahead, all you can prove is that you have strange knowledge. You can't prove that this is from the future though (as opposed to say, from magical powers).

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    $\begingroup$ Ah yes, this is essentially the "A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court" solution. Which - despite my love for the story - I found terribly convenient, a complete deus ex machina. Apart from the amazing coincidence of a solar eclipse synchronising with the time of his death sentence, even the fact of his remembering that date is unbelievable. I doubt very much that modern astronomy buffs (the non-savants, at least) are able to rattle off historical eclipse dates from memory. Anyway, while this sort of thing would be convincing, it's hard to see how it's at all likely. $\endgroup$
    – Deepak
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 14:50
  • $\begingroup$ And I like your last line - any such prediction would likely simply be considered magical by such a civilisation anyway. $\endgroup$
    – Deepak
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 14:52
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, exactly......... $\endgroup$
    – Stilez
    Commented Jul 2, 2016 at 19:21
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    $\begingroup$ knowing about a solar eclipse wouldn't be deemed magical by the persians, it would be considered science. At least as early as 750 b.c. Babylonian astronomers began to take an active interest in the accurate observation of many celestial phenomena, including solar and lunar eclipses. $\endgroup$ Commented Jul 3, 2016 at 3:10

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