Monday, April 19, 2010

Are you smarter than a Saxon?

Most think of themselves as intelligent or well-schooled in various subjects. Some are book-smart, some are street-smart. But with only what the earth gives you, assuming you could decipher that, what could you make?

The telly was tuned to the National Geographic channel, one I watch with My Beloved out of the room, and a program about a tremendous hoard of treasure uncovered from the 'dark ages'. What a single man with a metal detector uncovered was over 1500 pieces of gold and other treasures in a farm field in England. That got me to thinking, how would one possibly imagine making such items.

Imagine yourself back in the dark ages or before, and with your current level of education and intellect. Could you figure out how to make iron weapons? What would you look for? What metal ore out of the ground would you take. I for one wouldn't have a clue as to what type of colored dirt is better for weapon making than another. Add to that, the hoard included various military and religious objects including helmets and crosses with layers of gold. How does one go about figuring out how to smelt gold? I doubt that I would have many more skills than the ancients with slate arrow points, rocks chipped to the desired shape to cut or slice.

And what about the ancient celestial clocks or calendars used by primitive mankind. They pop up all over the globe from Central America to Britain to the Middle East. How long would it take the average person to uncover the secrets of the rising sun at various points throughout the year and build a temple that followed this progression accurately? Most would starve before they figured out a reliable planting cycle.

We live in a world where we each function with relative ease but when it comes down to it, we only use things others created for us. The next game show should be 'Are You Smarter Than A Saxon? I'm guessing most aren't, I'm certainly not. Although perhaps Baby Sis and Appfilly7 (they're both engineers) could school the rest of us.


  1. I think that even in the age of the Saxons, the general population could not do the things you mention and would have no more of an idea where to start than you. Just as today, there are specialist in every field. Those who discover new ways of working metal, new materials to use that are better than iron, just as those in the dark ages learned that iron was better than wood and rock to make weapons. Does make you appreciate true inovators regarless of when they lived or what they discovered.

  2. I am still amazed that someone thought it was possible to transmit sound through wires and hear it miles away. Pictures, also. And putting sounds on vinyl to capture that sound and then hear it over and over again.

    Kids, that is called "playing a record".

    Ask your parents.