The Origins of Time Travel
History is riddled with the notion of time travel, dating back to ancient myths. The Hindu Mahabharata tells the story of King Raivata Kakudmi traveling to heaven to meet a God called Bhrama. When the King returns to Earth, many ages have passed and he is in a new world. This ancient text dates back to 400 BCE and is one of the earliest mentions of the concept of time travel.
Japanese culture gives us the story of Urashima-no-ko, a young fisherman. He saves the life of a turtle and as a reward is taken to the underwater Dragon Palace. He spends 3 days there enjoying the spoils of being a hero. When he returns to the surface, he finds himself 300 years in the future.
The Jewish religion tells of the scholar Honi ha-M’agel who fell asleep for 70 years. When he awoke, he returned home from a pilgrimage only to find no one he knew. The people in his village did not believe him.
Of course, some of the most famous time travel stories come from science fiction. Possibly the most famous of these is The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. While earlier stories, such as The Clock That Went Backwards by Edward Page Mitchell, may have invented the concept of a time machine – it was Wells’ book that made the idea of a time machine popular.
Most of these stories involve travel to the future. Other tales, such as Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol, involve traveling to both the past and the future as Ebenezer Scrooge sees his past mistakes and how it can lead to a woeful future.