Alexander Inheritance – Snippet 07
“We’ll run out of fuel,” Anders started, unwilling, or perhaps unable, to give up his point.
“We have the new flex fuel engines, sir,” Dag Jakobsen said. “They were designed to be environmentally friendly, but in our situation they mean we can burn just about anything liquid. Alcohol, crude oilâ€¦if it’s liquid and it burns, we can use it.
“Our best bet is crude oil. It’s not the most environmentally sensitive choice, but under the circumstances, it has the best combination of energy density and availability.”
“Are you sure of that, Dag?” the captain asked. “I agree about energy density, but availability? Wouldn’t it be easier to just use alcohol? The Egyptians have been brewing beer for centuries.”
“Sure. But beer doesn’t burn. That takes a much more concentrated form of alcohol. We would have to introduce large-scale distillation and that’s effectively a new industry. I’ve been digging into the computers. Back in the eighteen fifties, they drilled a producing well in Trinidad that was something like two hundred fifty feet deep. And some in Wisconsin that were as little as fifty feet deep. I don’t know where we’re going to get it. They may even have it around here, but the cheapest way to get fuel is to drill a well. And, at least for the well in Trinidad, we have grid coordinates. We can fabricate a drilling rig in the ship’s shops onboard a lot easier than we can fabricate a whole distilling industry. I looked at Google maps. We know pretty close to right where to dig in Trinidad.”
“Write me up a report, Dag. Once we have stocked up on food, we might find it necessary to cross the Atlantic and set up some sort of a base. Meanwhile, for right now, I think we have to take Professor Easley’s advice. We’ll head for Egypt.”
* * *
Rabbi Benyamin Abrahamson sat on the loveseat in his cabin and prayed. He recited from the Torah under his breath as he tried to wrap his mind around the news. God had sent them back to this time. A time that some scholars insisted included the next best thing to polytheism in Judaism. It wasn’t the time of Moses, but Moses was closer to them in time than was the modern world. Even Abraham was closer to them than the world they had left.
What did God want of him to put him here?
* * *
Lawrence Hewell, a Baptist minister, was having a similar reaction, if one that was perhaps more emotionally confusing. “Dear Lord! Father in Heaven, why have you sent me into this wilderness? Not just among the heathen, but to a time when the entire world was heathen! A time before our blessed savior had come among us to offer himself in sacrifice.”
Lawrence wasn’t mumbling. It was closer to a wail of despair. Close enough to a wail, in fact, that someone in the next cabin banged on the wall and a woman’s voice shouted, “Would you mind holding off on your spiritual crisis till we’ve gone to dinner?”
Even here on this ship, where at least at this moment the only Christians in the world are! Lawrence thought. Even here, calling on the Lord brings the wrath of the unrighteous! Is that why God brought me here? To be John the Baptist? Three hundred years early? To prepare the way?
* * *
In his quarters below decks, Yaseen Ali prepared to pray and stopped. Mecca was that way. He had an app on his phone that used the ship’s net to provide the direction and the app was working again. The problem was that the Kaaba wasn’t there yet, or if it was, it was the altar to a pagan god. The focal point for prayer had, for the first thirteen years of Islam, been the Noble Sanctuary, the temple of Jews in Jerusalem. Allah had moved it in the middle of prayers. Yaseen had always assumed that the move was because Allah was angry with the Jews. Allah, not Muhammad, later politics, or later mullahs. Allah. The Jews had rejected the teachings of Christ and then they rejected the teachings of Muhammad and Allah had had enough. So Yaseen had believed — no, known, with confidence and comfort in his certainty. That wasn’t the problem. The problem was that the transfer of the Kaaba had happened at a certain very specific time. Seventeen months after Muhammad had taken his followers to Medina. During noon prayers on February 11, 624 of the Common Era. Nine hundred forty-two years from now.
The transfer of the Kaaba hadn’t happened yet! Would not happen for almost a millennium, if the effect they were going to have on history didn’t change it. Did he pray facing Kaaba in Mecca or the sanctuary in Jerusalem?
At this distance the difference was miniscule, but it was the intent that mattered. Did Allah placing him and the other modern followers of Islam in this time mean that the Jews were getting another chance, or that they were already lost?
Islam respected the people of the book. Even Jews. But now the only people of the book were on this ship, and they were mostly Christians. Only the Jews in this time were people of the book. That decided him. For now at least, he would pray facing the temple in Jerusalem. But the comfortable certainty of his faith was missing as he prayed to Allah to guide his steps in this strange world.
On Formentera Island
Mosicar looked out at the ocean where the giant ship had been and wondered. Mosicar was the owner of a village of fishermen that was only a few miles from where the giant ship had appeared. He had ordered a watch placed on it, and a little after the middle of the night, it had sailed away.
No. That was wrong.
There had been no sail involved, nor any oars. No means of propulsion that he could imagine, not that he could imagine anything other than the will of the gods that could move such a structure.
Yamm must favor their endeavors, and Mosicar didn’t want such people angry at him. Still, he had obligations to the crown in Carthage, and there was — at least potentially — money to be made. The whole village was set to going through the ruins left when the dock arrived, to find anything of value.
What they found was strange beyond imagining. Aside from the lumber and odd daub-like stuff that made up the walls, there were pipes made of a white material. There were copper wires inside the walls, that were coated in a flexible covering like leather, but fitted around the wires like skin. There were scissors made of the best steel that Mosicar had ever seen. There were books and pamphlets with strange writing on them. Mosicar thought it might be like the Latin script, but he wasn’t sure. It was almost as though they used occasional Latin letters mixed in with a different script.
None of it made sense, but parts almost did. There were images of people, of beaches and seas, and more of the giant ships — as though the whole world was filled with them and the people that occupied them. There were pools of water on the ships on the upper decks, and that was the strangest of things, for there seemed to be deck stacked upon deck upon deck upon deck, more than any ship could carry.
“No!” Mosicar shouted when one of the women started to throw away one of the sheets. “We throw away nothing. Collect everything and store it all in casks and amphoras. I will send a boat to Ibiza and hire a ship. This will all go to Carthage to sell at auction.” He looked around as his villagers stared at him. “You will all get a share of the profits. But don’t be too greedy. Hiring the ship will cost money.”
At least Judaism is in existence. In fact this is post exilic, but pre-diaspora, so most of the Jewish Holy books – if not the commentaries are in place, but Judaism is still Temple centred at this time – priests rather than rabbis if I recall. And is a Baptist really the only clergyman on the Ship? – don’t these cruise ships have chaplains? Ah well early days on the snippets yet.
All in all this is much more similar to An Island in the Sea of Time than 1632, albeit several 1,000 years after the setting of the former.
Graham from London
When I worked onboard we didn’t have full time chaplains, we would provide conference rooms for for any one who wished to have religious services. Around the holidays there was about even odds of having a priest, minister, rabbi on board.
From having read the eARC I can tell you without spoiling too much: Judaism is kind of complicated.
Well we are talking about a 2,300 year difference so there’re definitely going to be cultural and linguistic differences.
There are plenty of Jews in Egypt, from Elephantine in the Upper Nile to Alexandria itself. It wasnâ€™t the Jewish diaspora we normally think of, but plenty of Jews fled the Assyrian and Babylonian conquests. Many of them to Egypt.
If Cyrus the Great hadnâ€™t conquered Babylon and helped various hostage populations return homeâ€”including the Jewsâ€”there would be no Jewish/Christian/Islamic cultures and religions today. Just ask the Ten Tribes deliberately scattered by Assyria.
One thing they can offer Ptolemy is modern methods of categorization for his Great Library. Not to mention trivia like paper and the printing press. The Gutenberg press is low tech and easily adoptable. You could probably use it with papyrus, and not need to create a papermaking industry. Printing with movable type and the Egyptian alphabet would allow backup copies of everything, stored in Memphis or Thebes. Just in case of, you know, fire or something. Copies stored in Athens or Persepolis would protect against revisionist Pharos rewriting history. Burning a library is easier than chiseling inscriptions off of temple walls. (OTOH, how many letters does the Egyptian alphabet use? I have no idea.)
The Egyptians didn’t have an alphabet – hieroglyphics represent sounds – but of course the Macedonians like Ptolemy used Greek,
What use is a printing press in an illiterate world? There’s probably less than 100 students in the entire library, no waiting lists for any scroll. Your average school of philosophy (Stoicism, Epicuranism, Pythagorism, etc) has one or two teachers and maybe two dozen followers in the academia and possibly another dozen at large. All of Alexanders realm may have had less than 500 philosophers (including students) and less than 5000 people who could read, between current day Khartoum in the South, Sofia in the North and Islamabad in the East.
The reason the printing press took off in Northwestern Europe (the Hanseatic League specifically) is because it already had a huge literate middle class (a few dozen merchants who needed to keep track of their stores times a few dozen cities within a few weeks sailing) who were interested in one book, the bible.
While we’re talking about a time a few hundred years before Christ, there have been found plenty of evidence of literacy existing within the “lower classes” two-three centuries after Christ.
IE Documents found in Egypt that were obviously written by “common folks” concerning their concerns not “upper class” concerns.
Sure Books were more expensive prior to the Printing Press but there’s evidence that a certain degree of literacy existed within the “common folk” long before the Printing Press.
Specifically, for just one culture, we know that Roman non-commissioned officers of a time not far after this were required to be literate; and that street advertisements and graffiti were fairly common in Roman cities a few hundred years later, as were tomb inscriptions.
I’m not sure where “less than 5,000 people who could read” over a large area comes from, because I strongly suspect that the number exceeded that in Judea alone (the Samaritans were able to preserve a somewhat different Torah from then to today, this isn’t something an illiterate culture bothers with).
Or, to put it another way, the “uneducated lower class” of the Hebrews that didn’t go into exile centuries before this time was sufficiently literate to build and maintain a separate literary tradition.
As others have pointed out literacy was a great deal more widespread in antiquity than most modern people think. Another why introducing the printing press along with how to make paper is that once a book is proof-read and published it is easy to make large print runs of said book inexpensively enabling the rapid dissemination of ideas.
Prior to the introduction the printing press it could take as long as 3-5 years to copy a book like the bible which made these books extremely expensive. Also it was the invention of the printing-press shortly before the protestant reformation that enabled the explosive spread of it across northern Europe and another consequence of the printing press is that it kick-started the scientific-revolution in the 17th century. I don’t, for example, either Galileo’s or Newton’s works would’ve spread so quickly if they’d had to rely on scribes to write by hand copies of their works.
There is alphabetic graffiti in the Sinai copper mines from a millennium before this time period. Earlier time periods weren’t as uniformly illiterate as we often think.
Assuming they have the fuel to cross the atlantic, and drill a well, they’ll have to recross the atlantic and the Mediterranean to have any effect on the post-Alexander world. And need to refuel. Sorry, my suspension of disbelief doesn’t go that far.
They’re heading to Egypt for food before they even consider crossing the Atlantic to Trinidad:
â€œWrite me up a report, Dag. Once we have stocked up on food, we might find it necessary to cross the Atlantic and set up some sort of a base. Meanwhile, for right now, I think we have to take Professor Easleyâ€™s advice. Weâ€™ll head for Egypt.â€
Longish-term, establishing a base in the Caribbean might be a good idea, depending on how the uptimers relate to the Taino peoples in the Caribbean.
How do they set up a base, when they have ONE ship, and crossing the Atlantic uses all, or almost all the fuel they got on Dominica. Don’t tell me that they can build another ship. Or use a local version. Downtime naval tech is not capable of building one which could cross the Atlantic with any degree of safety. And unless they have someone who was interested in historical sailing ship design, and someone else (?) who has all the skills of a shipwright, sail maker, and all the other highly skilled trades. NOT PLAUSIBLE.
Apparently this one ship has an industrial base comparable to Grantville.
In terms of information technology they are almost 20 years ahead of Grantville, including a full copy of Wikipedia at the least.
They have a lot of capacity, and could have more people and equipment than Granville.
Ships I worked on we’re 93,000 gross ton displacement 2400 guest 950 full time crew onboard
1 chief engineer
1 staff chief engineer (like staff captain)
1 chief electrical engineer
1 first engineer (ran vessel related maintenance)
1 hotel maintenance manager (also a first engineer ran hotel side maintenance)
3 2nd engineers (1 manning engineer control room 24 hours a day on rotating watch schedule)
3 3rd engineer (same as above but down in the engine room and auxiliary machine spaces.
2 electrical engineers
1 sanitation engineer (in charge of potable/recreational water systems)
1 HVAC engineer
3 HVAC techs
3 motor men
2 firemen (operated garbage room incinerators)
1 engineer serang (engine department boson)
3 fitters (welders)
4 joiners (carpenters)
10 wipers (general cleaning and maintenance staff)
With 2 machine shops, joiners shop, electrical shop, plumbers shop, HVAC shop, upholstery shop.
On top of that there would general be some major maintenance initiative or upgrade going on that would add “riding crew” or technicians beyond the ships normal complement. Which could very well add a project chief engineer, a first additional fitters and machinists as well a technical representatives and engineers from the production company of the equipment. Adding some times a dozen additional technical staff.
This is before you even begin looking at the guests.
Reed boats are available in Egypt. Thor Heyerdahl lost one of his two boats at the end of the Ra voyage as a result of not understanding how its parts worked, but the other made it safely to shore.
information technology doesn’t substitute for experience in ship building. Or for that matter in sailing one. You may want to believe this story is at least possible. I don’t
Plenty of shipbuilding experience in Egypt: that’s how Ra I was built, though Ra II used New Worlders for help. As for the Atlantic vs. the Pacific, I think you are confusing the Ra and Kon-Tiki expeditions.
Sailing the Pacific is not the same as sailing the Atlantic. I’ve read that St. Brendan crossed the Atlantic in a skin boat. But he was a saint. And don’t talk about the Vikings. Crossing by way of Iceland, Greenland and Newfoundland is a lot easier than crossing the whole width of the Atlantic.
Re. John Cowan; Heyerdahl got in trouble passing some customs inspection when they insisted on seeing the hold. His Ra and Ra II were reed rafts with negligible cargo capacity.
If the Greeks can build triremesâ€”and they did for Periclesâ€”they could build a carrack or caravel. Especially with some hints about building the frame first and then fastening the planks to it. The trouble is, a pure sailing vessel in a calm is helpless against oar-powered pirates. Unless that ship is armed with cannon and flintlock muskets, that ship is dead meat for the first hungry galley.
Thatâ€™s a lot of technology to introduce, and will take years if they can do it at all.
I beg to differ. Triremes were basically a bunch of planks attached to a single bow that extends into the ram. They are light-weight constructions made of untreated wood. The tech for cured wood and covered frame hulls is not present. Getting the wood treated (it would rot before you’re across the ocean) and educating the workers would take longer than the fuel would last on ship.
They have two ships; the other is the one hauling the fuel barge.
It should be noted that while Egypt is not a major petroleum producer, it does have oil wells. Their locations might even be mentioned in Wikipedia somewhere.
Yep, that oil is near by, assuming you could sail through the suez canal. oopsie. Assuming a camel could carry 60 gallons, you’d need 1000 camels per caravan and a caravan per day to keep the ship running.
Perhaps you should look up the “Canal of the Pharohs” –the earliest incarnation of the Suez canal. It might not be completed in the era of this story, but it mostly exists. So petroleum from Egyptian oil wells could be mostly hauled by current-era boats, with a short connecting land-haul at some point.
As far as I understood it, the trick is that they have lots of fuel in the barge.
Also, they already had their first long-term effect on the mediterranean world when they time-crashed into Formentera.
“Still, he had obligations to the crown in Carthage”
Wait, what?! What “crown” he’s talking about here? Carthage was a merchant republic at the time.
” Mosicar thought it might be like the Latin script, but he wasnâ€™t sure. It was almost as though they used occasional Latin letters mixed in with a different script.”
And from where did he learn Latin? It was Greek as the trade language in that time.
might be a turn of phrase, the republic of Amsterdam was run by 17 lesser nobles and treated a slew of cities in Holland as colonies.
“might be a turn of phrase”
I’ll go with Occam razor here. I.e. – a screw up by the authors. Nothing prevented them from writing just “he had obligations to Carthage”, but nooooooooo!
Being able to recognize the Latin script is not the same as knowing Latin. I can recognize lots of scripts for languages I can’t read. In addition, close variants of Latin script were used from Etruria to Southern Italy. The reference to “a different script” probably refers to lower case letters, which are not obviously the same as upper-case letters (B doesn’t look much like b); it’s just that we are used to the correspondences.
“Being able to recognize the Latin script is not the same as knowing Latin. I can recognize lots of scripts for languages I canâ€™t read. In addition, close variants of Latin script were used from Etruria to Southern Italy. “
1) In what time period?
2) When compared to the Greek, how much was it widespread?
^Ancient Greek colonies
Question: which script was more well known among the peopl of the Western Med?
Another thing is that he refers to Ibiza, Ibiza is a spanish name and Spanish won’t exist for over a thousand years. Whatever language he is speaking it is NOT a Romance language (That language family doesn’t exist yet).
“Another thing is that he refers to Ibiza, Ibiza is a spanish name and Spanish wonâ€™t exist for over a thousand years. “
Authors just either doesn’t care or deliberately dumb down things. Phoenician colonists called the island Ibossim. Later Romans refered to it as Ebusus. The Greeks called the two islands of Ibiza and Formentera the PityÃ»ssai.
And we care about all these “inaccuracies” because…?
“And we care about all these â€œinaccuraciesâ€ becauseâ€¦?”
Because they are not true? Or because the authors treat their readers as if they are ignorant imbeciles who don’t know the truth? Or because in the genre of this book we have a “sci-fi” tag, a “time-travel” sub-genre, which means that they MUST try to be as accurate as possible?
Something like that.
Come on, he also is writing in English, not ancient languages. Its a noun, that identifies something. The purpose is to communicate meaning.
Its just not practical to rename every single thing so that its ‘accurate’….but unintelligible to 99.99% of readers.