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13+ Side-by-Side Photos That Can Change Our Perception of Time

Our sense of history may not be as accurate as we believe it to be. Events from the “ancient past” may have occurred more recently than we thought, while some modern-day institutions are actually older than certain civilizations. And if we do a side-by-side comparison of some historical milestones, we’ll realize how time moves differently depending on which side of the world we’re on.

Bright Side juxtaposed several photos that have unexpected connections, and they’ll warp your perception of time. We also have a mind-blowing bonus waiting for you at the end of the article.

1. Queen Elizabeth II and Marilyn Monroe would be the same age today.

The longest-reigning monarch in British history, Queen Elizabeth II, and one of the most iconic actresses during the 1950s, Marilyn Monroe, were born just over a month apart in the year 1926. They were both 30 years old when they met each other at the 1956 film premiere of The Battle of the River Plate in London. At that time, Queen Elizabeth II was only 4 years into her reign, and Monroe was still at the height of her career.

2. Woolly mammoths were still around when the pyramids were built.

We normally think of woolly mammoths as creatures that went extinct with the dinosaurs, but the prehistoric elephants were still roaming the earth when ancient Egyptians built the pyramids of Giza. The massive pyramid tombs were first constructed about 4,500 years ago. In 2019, a team of researchers published their findings on mammoth fossils from Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean, which indicated that the last woolly mammoths died out in that area around 4,000 years ago.

3. The University of Oxford is older than the Aztec Empire.

The Tenochtitlán, or the capital of the Aztec Empire, was founded back in 1325 in what is now known as Mexico City. But while the Aztecs were carving their sunstone, scholars at Oxford were already discussing curriculums and doctrines. Teaching at the oldest university (in the English-speaking world) began in the year 1096. By the thirteenth century, the university’s residence halls and first colleges were already established.

4. Anne Frank and Martin Luther King Jr. were born the same year.

The diary of Anne Frank and the legendary speeches of Martin Luther King Jr. represent 2 different periods in history — the Holocaust in Germany, and the height of the civil rights movement in America. However, both historical icons were born in 1929. King was born on January 15 of that year in Atlanta; while Frank was born 5 months later on June 12, in Frankfurt.

5. The Machu Picchu and the Sistine Chapel were built around the same time.

The architecture of these 2 UNESCO World Heritage Sites bears a striking contrast. The Machu Picchu in Peru is a citadel that was built using individually shaped stones, while the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican City is decorated with Renaissance art. But these 2 structures were built no more than 20-50 years apart.

Recent radiocarbon dating estimated the origins and existence of the Machu Picchu being between 1421 and 1476. Meanwhile, construction projects for the restoration of the Sistine Chapel started sometime between 1477 and 1480.

6. The iPod was released before Mauritania criminalized slavery in their country.

The country of Mauritania was the last nation to ban slavery back in 1981, but this practice continued to exist within the country. It wasn’t until 2007 — 6 years after Apple launched its first generation of iPods — when criminal laws were passed to prosecute slave owners.

7. Thomas Edison was still alive when the Empire State Building was opened.

Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb and many other great innovations, died on October 18, 1931. But he was still alive when millions of his tiny inventions lit up the newly constructed Empire State Building on May 1, 1931. During the establishment’s opening ceremony, US President Herbert Hoover symbolically turned on the lights by pressing a button from the White House.

8. We explored space before we understood earthquakes.

Humans began exploring space way before the scientific community agreed on the theory that explains the movement in our planet’s crust. The idea that continents drifted apart from one big lump of land was introduced as early as 1912, but that concept was rejected for many years. It was only in 1967 when the plate tectonics theory, presented by Jason Morgan, was finally accepted and published. By then, a decade had already passed since the Soviet Union launched the first artificial satellite in space, the Sputnik 1.

9. Tiffany & Co. is older than the Kingdom of Italy and the Italian Republic.

Tiffany & Co.’s first store opened in New York City in 1837. Around that time, Mazzini and Garibaldi Giuseppe led a small army around the Italian peninsula with the goal of conquering city-states and bringing them together under one ruler. In 1861, the Kingdom of Italy was born.

Toward the end of World War II, the Italian monarchy fell and King Victor Emmanuel III formally abdicated. In June of 1946, Italy officially became a republic.

10. Betty White is older than sliced bread.

The expression “the greatest thing since sliced bread” exists for a reason. Can you imagine the hassle of living in a world without cut-up loaves? Well, actress and comedian Betty White can because sliced bread was only invented 6 years after she was born. White was born on January 17, 1922, while pre-cut bread was first sold by a bakery in Chillicothe on July 7, 1928.

11. The Apollo 14 mission and women voting in Switzerland were milestones that happened at the same time.

On February 5, 1971, the Apollo 14 crew successfully landed on the moon. It was the third time that mankind was able to set foot on the lunar surface. Meanwhile, back on Earth, “womankind” in Switzerland were also celebrating, as they were finally given the right to vote on February 7, 1971.

12. Harvard University is older than Newton’s Law of Gravity.

The learning institution was founded as a college in Massachusetts back in 1636 before it changed its name to Harvard in 1639. The establishment had already been standing for about 5 decades when Sir Isaac Newton published his Law of Universal Gravitation in 1687. The prestigious university also didn’t have calculus as a subject when it started since Newton only invented it in the mid to late 1660s.

13. The invention of the airplane and the first moon landing happened not too far apart.

The Wright Brothers made their first successful flight with a powered aircraft on December 17, 1903. Over 6 decades after the airplane was invented, we managed to create rockets and space crafts that allowed us to go way beyond the skies. The Apollo 11 mission successfully landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, allowing Neil Armstrong to take that one giant leap for mankind.

BONUS: Cleopatra lived closer to the time of the golden arch than the pyramids.

It sounds strange, but Egyptian queen, Cleopatra lived closer to the establishment of the first McDonald’s than the construction of the pyramids. Historians estimate her birth year to be either 70 or 69 B.C.E, which is about 2,400 to 2,500 years after the pyramids were built. On the other hand, McDonald’s was founded in 1955, which is just over 2,000 years after Cleopatra came into existence.

Did your perception of time change after reading this article? What other interesting historical facts and trivia would you like to share?

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