Humanity seems to have inherited a gigantic, abandoned world.
Just as rats will move into the engine compartment of a car that's left parked for too long in a field, nibbling at the wires and cables without really understanding the true function of their new house, we-- the modern day Earthlings-- have apparently been successfully breeding and surviving upon this weathered machine we call our planet, and yet we still have no idea who really inhabited the place before we came along, how they built their amazing structures, or how they nearly all got knocked down again.
The Old Bridge- Hubert Robert painting, 1775
In the Hubert Robert painting above, the Earthlings have found that the old bridge serves as a shelter from the weather, and being too busy with life and its many chores, these survivors were making use of the bridge house in the ways that survivors do, most of them with no time to imagine building such a structure themselves.
As we survivors scurry around the giant remains of a former civilization, we rarely stop to wonder how anyone in the past had the time, resources or skills that it would take to build such massive buildings as the ones that we see broken all around us here on this mysterious planet that we call our home.
The Backwards Evolution of Architecture on Earth
In practically every major city on every continent of the Earth, there are clues showing the engineering and building skills of the Earthlings that were here before us. In the years since we last rewrote history, we Earthlings still don't seem to know how ancient people were able to design, shape, or move some of the massive stones that were used in some of the remaining structures around the world today. While things like huge stone columns may be commonplace around our planet, the knowledge of how to make one or even stand it up is knowledge that remains in the past.
A thousand years ago, buildings were made to last a thousand years. About a hundred years ago, buildings started being made to last at least a hundred years, while in the last twenty years, everything is made to last only twenty years.
Still ignoring the massive structures that persist around us, we slap together our shelters in planned obsolescence, still surviving, but we only plan on making it to the end of the week these days.
Pictures of a Cataclysm
Hubert Robert was a French painter who lived from 1733 to 1808, and was known for capturing the ruins that surrounded him, with his lush paintings showing a grand world that had tumbled into the earth previously. Hubert Robert's paintings suggest what it might have been like for the first survivors of that lost world to finally creep back into the broken empire's remains, exploring the bewildering ruins and finding themselves surrounded by giant architectural relics, now overgrown and returning to the wild.
Earth's True Story, Hiding in Plain Sight
The planet that we live on seems to have a reset button, and once the traces of previous civilizations have been scattered and buried under the mud, it only takes a generation or two in time for us to forget how anything was done before.
Hubert Robert shows us with his paintings a planet of orphans, climbing around on the megalithic remnants of their ancestor's world, and his work hints at a larger mystery that is ignored by history and time. Like lost children, we might be tempted to play and sing among the ruins that have been left laying around, but eventually we might come to learn the true story of our past. Figuring out how these grand palaces were built, and then how they were knocked down could teach us a way to not only survive on this planet, but if we were to finally understand the truth about our history, we might change the way we build our future.
Instead of painting over his reality, Hubert Robert left us with clues to what was beneath the facade that society has erected over of our planet's past, forcing us to consider the possibility that our world may have been a brighter place than we have been told, and now we have to wonder why our own magnificent past seems to have been hidden from us.
The image at the top, The Old Bridge, is a photo I took of a print that has haunted me my whole life with its story of survival and human persistence, all the other images are also Hubert Robert paintings as found on Wikimedia Commons, (link below to the larger images.)