Questions tagged [alternate-history]

For questions that ask what might have happened if history had taken a different path.

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6
votes
3answers
2k views

If the Cold War went hot in the early 1970s, do NATO and the Warsaw Pact have any plans to rebuild after the last nuclear warhead goes off? [closed]

So, if you are thinking this is just another random scenario, it is not. It is a sequel to my previous question on whether the Soviets and other Warsaw Pact forces, henceforth referred to as PACT ...
11
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2answers
774 views

How far would science advance if we lived in a cave? [closed]

In the book The Quantum Universe, the author suggests that: If the human race evolved in an underground cave system, never to see the sky, it is possible that they could have imagined a ball of ...
19
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15answers
5k views

Combat in age of swords and railguns

In a world that i am building, there is an advanced civilization that is somewhat close to 21st century humans. Two of the differences are: they have discovered electricity much earlier than we did ...
-1
votes
2answers
168 views

What would have happened if the New World was inhabited by non-hominid humanoids? [closed]

Imagine if instead of Leif Ericson or Christopher Columbus finding humans, they had found (insert your favorite non-hominid humanoid here) with a similar technological development to the humans they ...
3
votes
3answers
158 views

Forbidden gunpowder's trade [closed]

I'm writing a story in medieval era where gunpowder is newly discovered. The formula is held by a secret group of people who call themselves magicians and don't want to share the ingredients, so the ...
5
votes
1answer
350 views

How might a game have made its way from China or India to the Mediterranean in the ancient world?

This is in regards to "The Secret History of [M]", a reputedly ancient game with a disputed origin, and am thus looking especially for references involving m words. Q: How might a game have made it's ...
1
vote
0answers
166 views

What would the implications of a landlocked island be? [closed]

For the sake of argument, say that rather than Pangea breaking up, it moved closer together, creating a ring of mountains surrounding some parts of the West Coast of America and the North West area of ...
5
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4answers
213 views

Is there any Rubber/Latex source that could have been used by Europeans prior to the discovery of the Americas?

I was imagining a scenario where an 21st century engineer accidentally finds himself transported through time to early Renaissance Europe. Realizing that no help or rescue is on the way, he decides to ...
17
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21answers
7k views

19th Century army standing against a Modern Army

In short, after shenanigans revolving around travel around dimensions a modern army( A Marine Expeditionary Force if you want to be precise) end up invading a world that is still in the 19th century. ...
4
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3answers
364 views

The Palladium Skyscraper Skeleton

There is talk of a better alternative to steel, and one among the subject is "palladium glass". Manhattan Gold & Silver sums up the backstory of p-glass's construction, written in October 2014: ...
5
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4answers
372 views

Space Age without Enlightenment?

The question of whether or not humans could reach space without various resources has been exhaustively researched on this site, but one question has not been touched- what about the social and ...
3
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2answers
276 views

What would an Alternate North America, where Native Americans and Europeans assimilated in a more civil way, look like? [closed]

I'm working on a concept but I'm having a hard time imagining what it would look like, from a historical accuracy perspective. If Native Americans and different European colonists were able to live ...
9
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9answers
2k views

Leg powered propeller for boat in Punic war time

Galley was a widely used type of ship in the Mediterranean sea. It was propelled by rowers and sails. Supposing the ship builders at the time of the Punic wars got the right "inspiration" (how they ...
0
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1answer
176 views

If the Egyptians Used Mushrooms to Invent Leather

According to Moore & Giles, the Egyptians invented the first leather as early as 5000 BCE. And now word on the street is that a new kind of leather is being developed, made not from the hides of ...
0
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4answers
333 views

Plastic in Roman Concrete?

Word on the street is that using recycled plastic to make roads can help reduce carbon emissions, improve road quality by making it longer-lasting and less susceptible to potholing. This ...
2
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3answers
737 views

If the earth spun the other way, what would be different?

Assuming it just spins at the same rate, the other way. Axial tilt is the same, year length is the same. Perhaps winds and ocean currents? What would the effect be on geography? Would deserts or ...
5
votes
2answers
172 views

Imperial capitals in the Crimea

Strange question, but then again I think this forum positively welcomes those! I'm aiming to create a campaign centred around a fictional 13th century Byzantine successor state based in the Crimea. ...
23
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6answers
4k views

Super metal and the construction of knight armor

Assume that roughly at 1200 AD, Europe discovers a new metal (or alloy). By terms of various strengths and hardness it's comparable to high grade steel, however instead of steel's density of ~8 g/cm³, ...
1
vote
1answer
214 views

Would Congress have allowed Nixon to remain President if he'd covered up Watergate better? [closed]

Imagine that Nixon made fewer mistakes while covering up Watergate: He handles John Dean more carefully, so that the latter does not cooperate with investigators. Dean never speculates about the ...
33
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8answers
6k views

Would the capability for Japan to drop a nuclear bomb on the USA have deterred the USA from dropping a nuclear bomb on Japan?

Would the USA have been deterred from dropping a nuclear bomb on Japan if Japan had the means of retaliating with a nuclear weapon in WW2? Leading on from that, would Japan have used the nuclear ...
17
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5answers
6k views

Could the entire world have been destroyed by the existing nuclear arsenal in 1962?

Considering the nuclear arsenal that existed in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, could it have destroyed the entire world, following the events below? Edited question a bit: Considering the ...
-3
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1answer
221 views

Christianity never rises. Does the U.S. exist? [closed]

In the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior. The Declaration of Independence laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first ...
4
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5answers
3k views

If vaccines had never been invented, how many more people would have died of disease? [closed]

The first vaccine, for smallpox, was introduced in 1796. The World Health Organization reports that over a fifteen-year period, the measles vaccine alone prevented 17.1 million deaths. They also ...
3
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9answers
621 views

How could soldiers from the 21st century AD convince a tribe of Amazons from the 13th century BC that they are NOT all-powerful wizards?

Or really, how could soldiers from the 21st century convince anyone living in antiquity that their weapons and technology are based on principles of science and engineering rather than witchcraft and ...
7
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5answers
267 views

Technological complexity in a tribal setting?

Situation It is 2000 BCE. Seven late bronze age clans descended from the Fatyanovo-Balanova Culture which have been warring for control of the Moskva after the disappearance of their culture have ...
17
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10answers
3k views

How to make the era of airships last longer?

Yet another airship question. We now all know that it would be impossible to build an airship of any practical size or effectiveness before the 19th century, and that once a civilisation is advanced ...
2
votes
1answer
82 views

Best Northern Australia location for a colony in 1700

So I'm doing a story where the time traveling MC decides to make a go for Australia in 1700 before any other powers start giving it some attention. What I'm debating on is where is the best location ...
2
votes
2answers
288 views

What economic effects would magically-enforced isolation have on the Victorian age British Empire?

The year is 1862. A magician raises up an impenetrable magical barrier around the British Isles. The barrier is spherical in shape, and it contains England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. It also ...
0
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2answers
210 views

Intelligent cats for ancient egypt [closed]

The ancient egyptians worshipped cats as gods. Cats are really smart creatures as you can see in this video. Even non-sentient/intelligent cats played a big role in the egyptian culture. Cats in ...
14
votes
1answer
2k views

King John acting boldly and opening churches - would this work?

England, 1208. The Pope declares an Interdict on England because the King would not agree to the Papal choice for Archbishop of Canterbury. In our reality, King John tried to tough it out and to get ...
0
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3answers
216 views

Value of ancient artifacts [closed]

Given a very soft-science world, what value or somewhat logical unobtanium could be found in ancient artifacts from old civilizations. The goal is to have big corporations and secret societies raid ...
20
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13answers
7k views

How to keep apartheid alive?

For my story, I need South African apartheid to still be alive in the 1990's. Everything else is more or less the same. For example, the Eastern block still collapses in 1989. What would be the ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Capital of British Empire without Britain

It's around 1895 and the British Isles have fallen to a communist uprising. Or sunk underwater. Or invaded by Germany or covered in ice or something. So the government, the Royal Family and a large ...
23
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15answers
7k views

Could medieval atheist king end religious dominance?

In alternative medieval Europe, there is a king who is (secretly) an atheist and wishes for (what we would call) a secular and humanist society. Unfortunately for him, in the same medieval Europe, the ...
50
votes
33answers
11k views

Stumped: What would replace 'names' in an alternate history?

I have an alternate history epoch taking place in 10th Century Islamic Renaissance, but I have a large Bedouin tribe that does not use anything to indicate a person's name or identity. This is a big ...
3
votes
2answers
288 views

Britain wins Revolutionary war- how do they paint the enemy? [closed]

In a timeline where the UK defeated the rebels and retained control over the thirteen colonies- how would their history books depict the other side? I assume they would vilify the so-called Founding ...
10
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3answers
1k views

What prosthetics would be suitable for a rural aristocrat in history?

What kind of prosthetic technology would be available to a wealthy but rural aristocratic person without a leg and how would it affect their social standing? The time era is sort of pre-Elizabethan, ...
0
votes
1answer
193 views

Would Franz Joseph I (emperor of Austria 1848-1916) protect a minority hated by others or would he help assimilate them? [closed]

My world has a conflict involving Franz Joseph and a hated minority inside his empire. The Ottoman's want control over them, and I'm not sure whether he would protect them for power, protect them ...
-3
votes
2answers
170 views

Why the Aeolipilie/Heron Steam Device 10-07 AD, Never Come to Be a Useful Power Plant Today? [closed]

System of the Aeolipile Heron Steam device from Alexandria 10-70 AD
4
votes
3answers
537 views

The Camelry Has Arrived

This is a series of maps of Old World empires: And now look at the pre-Columbian New World empires: We're not 100% sure why Old World empires were so huge and New World empires so small, but a good ...
3
votes
1answer
419 views

Humans born in a world without humans? [closed]

Introduction I suspect that the vast majority of our intelligence is not emerging from our evolved state as Homo sapiens on its own, but lies in our preservation of knowledge that we built on through ...
8
votes
3answers
237 views

Can we have a world where bacteriophages are the main treatment of bacterial infection?

In Georgia (Soviet Union) bacteriophages are used to to cure bacterial infection. In this video one can see how they are produced. So it might be possible in an alternate timeline, that Paul Ehrlich ...
27
votes
6answers
10k views

If the Cold War went hot in the early 1970s, would the Warsaw Pact be able to reach the Rhine River?

So, let us go back in time to the year 1973, specifically around October of 1973; the time frame of the Yom Kippur War. In our timeline, the conflict almost became WWIII after the Soviets threatened ...
8
votes
5answers
950 views

Can sanitation spark an industrial revolution

In an Alternate Earth timeline, round about 1200 AD, we have the Great Alchemist and Philosopher Bob. Bob, being from a wealthy family has a handful of older brothers, so he's not likely to be an ...
19
votes
3answers
3k views

What is the oldest a cave could possibly be?

What is the oldest a still extant cave on Earth could be? What conditions could encourage the longevity of a cave? It seems that the oldest known caves, the Jenolan Caves in Australia, formed in the ...
7
votes
5answers
487 views

How can I account for the curvature of Earth for my straight line (10th Century)?

It is the 10th Century and the hero, Ibn Muadhe has discovered trigonometry about six centuries before Cartes, and has received a wonderful gift. A very spiritual Avicenna had rushed by camel and ...
4
votes
1answer
240 views

How do I prevent the annexation of the Novgorod Republic?

The Novgorod Republic existed in northern Russia between 1136 and 1478. It was the easternmost point in the Hanseatic League, the north-western terminal of the Silk Road, and by all accounts immensely ...
10
votes
8answers
697 views

Resolving anachronism: Have a modern society with outdated warfare

I am currently trying to resolve a problem of heavy anachronism in the story/world I am "building". I will start of by giving a small summary of the story/world, and why there is an anachronism. (...
4
votes
3answers
299 views

Symbolics of Cargo Cult after 1000 years

Let's have Earth-like planet with settlement of humanoids on tech level about 500 BCE. This culture is being visited by aliens and these aliens are being recognized as "Gods". Aliens in question are ...
-2
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2answers
671 views

A Younger Siberian Traps [closed]

Back home, the catalyst for the worst biotic catastrophe in the world, the Siberian Traps, don't have much left. 252 million years of erosion was more than enough to reduce the igneous province from ...