Imagine, right, that the human race gets wiped out in such a way as to leave behind all of our works – I dunno, a virus, really virulent, incredibly fast acting. We didn’t stand a chance. And then, as luck would have, we actually are visited by beings from another world. They land, they take a look around, they see signs of life (you know, frogs, trees, foxes, free-market cheerleaders) but no signs of yer actual intelligence. And yet, puzzlingly, there’s all these artefacts. Football stadiums, for example: what would they make of them? Factories, some of them including forklift trucks. Some of those sexy sensual temples in southern India (that’s a religion I don’t mind signing up to (typical bloke response)). Postcards. CD’s. toy aeroplanes. Real aeroplanes. Helicopters. ‘mobile phone antennae.’ Wires. Offices. Essex. Ironing boards. Et so on.
Would they recognise these as artefacts of an ancient but extinct civilisation?
I suppose it depends on their own ascent up the evolutionary ladder. It’s bound to affect their perception of what constitutes intelligence. Bit like how the Europeans were when they encountered other countries with different coloured people who did different things differently. ‘You must be savages!’ we screamed, and promptly tried to ruin them and their descendents.
In other words, how enduring are artefacts if there is no-one to explain their purpose?
Therefore, what exactly is legacy?
(Pyramids, I want me some pyramids…)