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by Archaeology Newsroom

The Direction of Time in Antiquity and Today

Comparing the concept of time between antiquity and today, we discover a complete reversal. The ancients perceived time as running downwards and they were arranging the order of events respectively: the ancestors were placed high up, the descendants followed in a downward direction. In an alternative scheme, where the past was placed in front of the future, the ancestors preceded the descendants. In our time, however, these notions and representations have been reversed completely. Time is ascending, the past is placed at the bottom and the future at the top. Thus, the ancestors occupy the roots and the descendants the branches of the family-tree. In a figurative representation the future leads the past, and the new generations march ahead, leaving the old ones behind.

What caused such a radical reversal of concepts and representations? Four intermingling procedures must be held responsible, according to the author of the article:

a. The counting of time, starting from the birth of Christ

b. The dispute of the ancient authorities, caused by the great geographical discoveries

c. The evolution theory, and

d. The dispute of the authority of the aged.