How to build a structure that lasts 10 thousand years?

How to build a structure that lasts 10 thousand years?

How to build a structure that lasts 10 thousand years?

Alexander Rose and a team of engineers at the Long New Institute are building a clock in the Texas desert that ten It will last a thousand years. Rose says the biggest lesson she learned from design is longevity. During his trip to Japan, Rose encountered the 66th period of religious rituals that has lasted for more than 13 centuries. In this ritual, a group of Shinto monks, led by Prince Masako, transfer treasures from an old temple to a new temple.

The monks of Ise Temple, since the 7th century, have been rebuilding the great Jingu Shrine every twenty years. They pay for wood and straw. As a part of the Shinto religion, this makes the structures maintain their strength even with materials relatively long-lasting, and on the other hand, the method of building the temple to the next generation of monks. It is transferred.

Japan is the source of the world’s old trading houses, and the interest in preserving the buildings has made the structures last for nearly a thousand years; But there are similar sustainable architectures around the world from which many lessons can be learned.

Ise Great Tomb in Japan. In this tomb, buildings are rebuilt every two decades

Rose and Danny Hillis, a computer scientist, along with a group of engineers from the Long Nau Institute, have been working on a ten-thousand-year-old watch for the past twenty years. They work on a monumental scale, symbolizing long-term thinking. The main idea is to build an impressive and large building in terms of scale and time; So that when the audience stands in front of it, it imagines a long-term vision of the future.

For example, suppose you only have five years to solve climate problems, even if you know where to start, this time period is completely It is irrational; But if you extend the time frame to 500 years, even impossible problems seem solvable.


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To build a ten thousand year old machine, one must first study the structures and the reason for their durability throughout history. It is possible to slow down the speed of the clock so that the number of beats in ten thousand years is equal to the number of beats during the average human life; But this is only part of the solution, and what solutions should be considered for the materials and the place of construction?

Rose investigated the durability of various structures and systems during twenty years and saw many of them closely. Many buildings have survived due to simple reasons such as being lost or buried from various factors. humans, have lasted for more than a few centuries. Even stories, legends, religions, common customs, as well as other structures and artefacts have lasted as long. Most objects were not built with longevity in mind, but have survived over the centuries purely by chance.

More recent structures such as nuclear waste repositories, genealogical resources, and seed vaults are designed to last thousands of years (even hundreds). (thousand years) last. Many lessons can be learned from the past and present. Courses ranging from material sciences and engineering to ideological topics. In the following, the points that affect the durability of the structures are mentioned.

Find and hide

Some of the most unique objects and historical structures are completely random and for reasons such as being lost and then Being found at the right time, they have been spared from the bite of various factors. For example, if the Dead Sea Scrolls, the Rosetta Stone and the Antikythera Machine had not been lost, they might have been destroyed by now. Antikythera Machine is a kind of astronomical clock that displays itself several centuries ahead of time. This watch was discovered in a shipwreck near Antiktera, Greece.

No similar device from that era has been discovered. This unique structure is the product of man’s work and understanding of gears and astronomical events, and its mechanical principles were not seen until 1300 years later, in medieval Europe. On the other hand, one of the other reasons for the uniqueness of this car is the many repetitions seen in its construction. Definitely, the only reason for the survival of this structure was its loss. Even after its discovery, this machine was kept in a container until X-ray studies revealed its complexity and function as an astronomical model.

The Antikythera Mechanism, an ancient mechanical machine from the century 2 BC

Here is another lesson from the Antikythera machine: mechanical ones are better than electronic ones in terms of self-documentation for future archaeologists. Suppose future archaeologists find a modern electronic device in the depths of the Mediterranean after 2000 years. For this reason, Rose has chosen a mechanical structure for the 10,000-year clock project. Even if only parts of this clock survive for 10,000 years, future experts can guess its purpose and repair it if needed.

Remote areas

Cities based on Activity booms are defined. Cities themselves as an entity can remain standing and flourishing for up to 1000 years, but the content of cities may change with each decade and be completely replaced. For every urban structure that has lasted for more than a thousand years, there are countless structures that have been destroyed due to reasons such as war, urban changes, or random events. Remote areas have a greater chance of long-term survival. Attractions like Petra and Machu Picchu have been spared from damage due to their remoteness from modern cities.

The World Seed Treasury of Svalbard is built inside a mountain and can hardly be visited

Remoteness can give a building a mythical appearance. Rose visited the World Seed Treasury in Svalbard many years ago. This region is the northernmost habitable region on the planet, located at 78 degrees latitude. This treasury is designed in such a way that it will last up to 1000 years as a backup source for the grain of the world.

Although during the construction, the designers did not imagine that this area would become an attractive place for the world. This building was not designed for public visit and many high-ranking people from all over the world who have traveled to this place have only managed to visit its exterior. This vault is usually opened twice a year to store grain. Rose’s trip coincided with one of these occasions. Among the names sent to this region, he saw the names of people like Jimmy Carter and Ban Ki-moon and realized that the remoteness of this treasury is the reason for its attraction to the outside world.

Remoteness can Give an attractive and mythical face to the structure

Access to remote areas requires time and purpose. To travel to a certain destination, the time to reach the destination and return from it should be considered. Rose and his colleagues have chosen a 10,000-year-old land in West Texas to build the clock project, which is several hours from the airport and from one point to another It can be reached on a walking day.

Since the purpose of making this watch is to change people’s view of time, people must predict and process time to visit this remote place, and thus the isolation of this project is as much as preserving it. It becomes one of the faces of its myth.


Many of the oldest structures have been buried underground for years. The underground environment protects them from sunlight and keeps the temperature constant. Increase and decrease in temperature increases the process of oxidation and aging. One of the aging tests of materials is based on the cycle of decreasing and increasing temperature (chemical effects are secondary).

Tombs Luxor Portzean of Egypt, wall paintings of the Lascaux Caves in Dordogne, southwestern France and Even subtle artifacts like the Dead Sea Scrolls have all been buried underground for thousands of years; Therefore, it is not surprising that modern safe depositories such as the global seed treasury and the nuclear waste repository are all built underground.

Parts of ten thousand year old clock installation

However, one of the disadvantages of protecting works in the basement is water penetration. Rose, who has visited nuclear waste sites in the United States and Europe, the World Seed Treasury and Mormon genealogical collections, has seen efforts to keep water out in all of the examples. Over hundreds and thousands of years, water finds its way into these reservoirs. Water can only be prevented by diverting it instead of blocking it. The rice paddies of Asia are an example of the effect of precise water management over thousands of years.

The purpose of building a ten-thousand-year-old clock underground is not only to protect it, but also to preserve time. Temperature changes cause expansion and contraction of metal, so to keep the length of structures such as the pendulum of the clock and thus maintain the order of time, intelligent designs must be used. The less temperature change a mechanical watch faces, the more accurate its performance will be. On the other hand, despite problems such as water penetration, Rose had to make a smart decision. For this reason, in order to minimize the string and water collection, he chose a spot on top of the mountain to make the watch. Despite this, there is still a possibility of water getting inside.

To solve this problem, they tried to change the direction of the underground levels and make sure that the water does not get trapped in any place and can flow from the bottom of the clock. to be directed outside; So water may not be stopped, but it can be diverted.


One of the scientists about making Masaleh says: everything is burning, but with different proportions. According to this definition, the aging or obsolescence of objects, just like the rusting of iron, is the process of oxidation. When the question of durable and multi-thousand-year-old materials is raised, most people give examples of stones or precious metals such as gold because these materials do not easily react with oxygen; But like Egyptian mummies, if correct protection methods are used in chemical environments, the durability of the body can even be increased. Some time ago, a 5500-year-old leather shoe was discovered in Armenia.

Often, the lifespan of materials depends on their environment, not their gender. For example, the Armenian leather shoe was buried in a cave and was covered with an insulation made of sheep feces, so the reason for its durability was the anaerobic environment with a stable temperature.

5500 year old leather shoes which is said to be the world’s oldest leather shoe

but the ability to control the environment to increase the durability of objects and preserve them for thousands of years is limited. People breathe the same oxygen that causes things to decay. It covers the dust on their clothes and the fat on their skin; Therefore, durable materials are necessary to build a ten-thousand-year-old machine.

For example, Rose has used the best type of bearing to make a watch (a bearing is a type of mechanical part that limits the relative movement to the desired movement and reduces the friction between the moving parts. decreases). All the rotating parts of this watch need some kind of bearing surface that can continue to work with minimal friction.

However, older bearings have several problems and usually consist of a row of hardened steel balls that fit between grooves called the bearing frame. Steel or even stainless steel will weld to each other when they stay together for a long time, and if the electrical capacity of the two metals are different, they will undergo galvanic corrosion. Leave the other and it will rot. In addition, conventional bearings require regular lubrication and maintenance, which can increase the amount of dirt. During 20 years of working on bearings, Rose came up with a good solution. He says:

Ceramic bearings are used in satellites and spacecraft. Bearings made from hard industrial ceramics close to diamond work well in a vacuum and do not require lubrication.

But Rose faced a major problem 20 years ago: the cost of ceramic bearings. Time reached tens of thousands of dollars and was only used in the aerospace industry. Ceramic bearings have become more popular over the past 20 years and are now as ubiquitous as skates and soothing spinners for around ten dollars.


One of Rose’s most exciting strategies. To increase the durability of objects, sacrifice part of the object. For example, in nature, when lizards are attacked, they cut their tails so that they can easily escape from the enemy.

Removable decorations on the walls of the Taj Mahal also preserve the original structure It has helped from the clutches of looters

Some places like the tombs of the Valley of the Kings of Egypt have such a quality, in these places you can find the best examples of carving and colorful appearance as if they were made It just ended yesterday. The looters thought that by stealing valuables and gold, these tombs were no longer valuable, but the valuable wall art of the tombs remained intact, which is rare in its kind. They thought they had made the Tajmahal worthless by stealing these jewels, but contrary to their imagination, the value of this building remained intact. According to these examples, an interesting question is raised regarding watch making. Is it necessary to put a valuable and removable layer on the watch and thus prevent the theft of other parts of it? are. In recent years, many old buildings of the world were destroyed due to the existence of conflicting values ​​and ideologies. One of the most disturbing destructions was the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha by the Taliban. It is hard to imagine how much a harmless religious symbol like Buddha could threaten the Taliban who spent a few weeks to destroy it.

Ideological political changes in Afghanistan lead to destruction Bamiyan was saddened

But how can you make a cultural and valuable symbol that will not be stolen or destroyed at some point in time? This is the question that arises when making a 10,000-year-old watch. The answer to this question is no longer dependent on the engineering of materials and their performance, but on the civilization and value they value for their present and future. The construction of such buildings can challenge man not only technically and professionally, but also morally and make him a better ancestor for future generations.

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