If you could travel back in time, say a thousand or two thousand years, how awesome would it be? Anyone from the Western civilization in the 21st century would look like a genius, or even a god, to the people from back then, right? With our superior technology, our smartphones, our quick transportation, our wast knowledge at the tips or our fingers...
Awesome, right? You’d become the king of the world, wouldn’t you? Well, I doubt it... Here are some issues you’d almost certainly stumble upon:
You don’t speak the language
Go on, try to understand this piece of text:
Fæder ure þu þe eart on heofonum;
Si þin nama gehalgod
to becume þin rice
gewurþe ðin willa
on eorðan swa swa on heofonum.
urne gedæghwamlican hlaf syle us todæg
and forgyf us ure gyltas
swa swa we forgyfað urum gyltendum
and ne gelæd þu us on costnunge
ac alys us of yfele soþlice
If you figured out it’s the Lord’s Prayer in Anglo-Saxon, congrats. But even if you did, would you be able to actually use that language? Because that’s what English looked like in the times you want to travel to. And the same applies to all the other modern languages. They aren’t what they used to be.
I’d try to go with Latin. It has the biggest change of being Lingua Franca of the area and period you’ll end up in, and it changed relatively little over the centuries.
Technology is magic
Or at least it’s indistinguishable from magic. Sure, if someone came here from 31st century and showed us theirs, we would probably accept it as a superior technology, not as some unexplainable magic. But we’re already familiar with the idea of science doing amazing stuff. How would people in the Middle Ages react to a flying machine, smartphones or even just photographs? I bet you’d end up on stack, you witch!
You don’t know this magic
Let’s not kid ourselves. Most of us only knows how to use our technology. We might have a rough undestanding of physics behind it, but could we actually build it ourselves? Sure, if you know more than that, you could show our ancestors some of the simpler inventions. But, say, smartphones? Space rockets? Modern cars? Not a single person on Earth knows how to build them! They’re too complex to be created by one person, they require cooperation of many different experts. You could move their technological progress a bit, but certainly not a lot – well, unless you’re a huge group of experts.
Assuming you take your shiny, flashy smartphone with you, how long will it secure your position of a god until you have to recharge it? How will you do it? Do you know how to produce electricity? How to adjust its voltage and current to mach your phone’s input?
How much is it good for with no GSM network and no Internet? Do you have any idea how to create other devices to connect to? How to create a network between them?
You’ll break the Continuum
If you watched any time travel related movie, you know what I mean. Going back in time creates paradoxes. If you alter the past even in the slightest, the future will most probably develop in such a way, that they wouldn’t be any “you” to go back and alter it.
So I wouldn’t risk it. Very little change you’d actually acomplish anything. You might, however, break the spacetime.
You won’t be the king of the past. Sorry, if I ruined it for you...