Two strangers, Alice and Daisuke, are from two different cultures and speak different languages. Oh, and they are from two different times!
Alice, was unwillingly, unknowingly and unexpectedly transported through time by crygogenics/time machine/sleeping curse etc. Transport method is not needed for the question.
Alice does not know she has travelled into the future. She has just woken up in a strange world unable to speak the language. She is intelligent, well learnt and has quickly managed to communicate her immediate needs with the international travel language of body language and hand signals.
Daisuke, doesn't know when exactly Alice is from, just that she is from the long lost past. Daisuke while also intelligent and well learnt, does not speak Alice's language or have the resources to find any academics that may still speak it (if any). Daisuke does not have any modern equipment/technology to help translate and is also relying on body language and handsignals.
To protect Alice from the outside world, she isn't allowed outside her windowless set of rooms. Daisuke can't just show Alice old buildings that were new/non existent in her time etc. Daisuke can arrange to have small objects brought into the rooms but doesn't know which would be helpful without external context. (An old vase, is just an old vase). As Daisuke doesn't even know who Alice is (aside from her name) or what exact timeframe she came from he cannot provide any of her own belongings/familar objects until he knows the exact time she came from...
Alice wants to know where she is! Daisuke can simply point to a map. How does Daisuke communicate the long passage of time to Alice?
For the purposes of this question he doesn't have to communicate how she got there.
For the purposes of this question Daisuke can't just spend months teaching Alice the language. Alice wants to know now, what the f is going on!
Using just basic hand signals (and props), how do you tell someone that it has been many many years since they were last awake?
Alice doesn't need to know the exact number of years she has travelled. If she can be told she has been gone for more than a century (rough number of centuries would be a bonus) that would suffice. They can fine tune the dates once they get their language barrier sorted.
Alice has the equivalent of a 1900ish level of knowledge (if she had had a male education that is).
There is about 1000-1300 years in time difference with a cataclysm inbetween. The people rebuilt. There is no modern technology in the new world. No aeroplanes, TV's, modern computers etc!
- FYI. The New World does use a different Calender Year numbering system, but the calendar week/month setup itself is similar enough to be recognisable. The New world uses the old "dynasty method" and is no reference to the total amount of time that has passed. Using such a calendar would still be able to show the passage of time, with the added step of explaining the difference between the year stated and the number of years travelled.
Daisuke has a similar level of knowledge as Alice, ie 1900ish.
Daisuke can use everyday objects as "props" to indicate certain ideas/concepts as well as hand gestures, drawing on paper and moving around the room.
Daisuke would be able to provide maps, solar system drawings and models.
Daisuke knows Alice has travelled from the past, as there have been similar incidents in the past (these involved similar languages so his people haven't encountered this communication issue before). These previous incidents didn't necessarily all come from Alice's time. - Would require communication between both Alice and Daisuke to refine the ballpark time to roughly a century which is why, it's not necessary to be precise.
A good answer would cover explaining to Alice:
- she is in the same place as pointed out on a map, and that a large number of years had passed.
- the exact number is not required but an estimate within a rough hundred years is preferable (ie not a strict requirement).
- Daisuke would have to specify if she had gone forward or backward.
if a shared point in history is used as a reference point it will have to be mimed/drawn out (eg, major events like, the crucification or major influential flag colours. Some thing or some event that would withstand the rigours of a catacylsm).
- there is a high probability of misunderstanding with this technique as each may be referring to different events eg which wall falling down are you talking about, Hadrian's wall, the Berlin wall, Trump's wall?
An explanation shouldn't take more than a day, possibly two to convey.
- Any explanation that involves taking Alice outside is void, but explaining concepts like the sun is ok.
- An explanation that involves objects from her time in a aged state is borderline, as Daisuke doesn't know her exact departure time.
- besides, how is Alice to to know what is trying to be said by showing her these random old objects.
- Yes, it might show that she had travelled in time, but she can't determine it's 900 years worth of rust/mold instead of 500!