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


Our perception of history may not be as accurate as we think. Some modern-day institutions are older than some civilizations, and events from the “ancient past” may have occurred more recently than we assumed. And if we compare several historical landmarks side by side, we’ll see how time advances differently depending on which side of the globe we’re on.

1. In today’s world, Queen Elizabeth II and Marilyn Monroe would be the same age.

© BEN STANSALL / AFP / East News© Collection Christophel / Collection Christophel / East News

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

2. When the pyramids were erected, woolly mammoths were still alive.

© KHALED DESOUKI / AFP / East News© HTO / Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Woolly mammoths are usually associated with dinosaurs, yet prehistoric elephants were still roaming the globe when the Giza Pyramids were completed. Around 4,500 years ago, the colossal pyramid tombs were built for the first time. In 2019, a group of researchers revealed their results on mammoth fossils discovered on Wrangel Island in the Arctic Ocean.Around 4,000 years ago, the last woolly mammoths in the area died off.

3. The Aztec Empire predates the University of Oxford.

© Sidharth Bhatia / Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0© Mariana277 / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 3.0

Tenochtitlán, or the Aztec Empire’s capital, was founded in 1325 in what is now known as Mexico City. However, as the Aztecs were carving their sunstone, Oxford academics were debating curriculums and doctrines. In the year 1096, the oldest university (in the English-speaking world) started teaching. The university’s residential halls and first colleges were already in place by the thirteenth century.

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

© Unknown photographer / Collectie Anne Frank Stichting Amsterdam / Wikimedia Commons, PD-1996© Hugo van Gelderen / Anefo / Wikimedia Commons, CC0 1.0

Anne Frank’s diary and Martin Luther King Jr.’s iconic speeches reflect two separate times in history: the Holocaust of Germany and the peak of the civil rights movement in America. Both historical figures, however, were born in 1929. On January 15 of that year, King was born in Atlanta, and Frank was born five months later, on June 12 in Frankfurt.

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

© PABLO PORCIUNCULA BRUNE / AFP / East News© trukdotcom / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 3.0

The architecture of these two UNESCO World Heritage Sites contrasts dramatically. The citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru was constructed using individually formed blocks, while the Vatican City’s Sistine Chapel is decorated with Renaissance art. However, these two structures were constructed within 20-50 years of each other.

The source and life of Machu Picchu are dated to be between 1421 and 1476, according to recent radiocarbon dating. Meanwhile, between 1477 and 1480, work on the renovation of the Sistine Chapel began.

6. Before Mauritania made slavery illegal in their country, the iPod was issued.

© Aaron Logan / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.5© Darwinek / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 3.0

Mauritania was the last country to abolish slavery, doing so in 1981, but the practise persisted throughout the country. Criminal laws to punish slave owners were not passed until 2007 — six years after Apple released the first generation of iPods.

7. The Empire State Building was inaugurated when Thomas Edison was still alive.

© Wikipedia.org / Wikimedia Commons, CC BY SA 4.0© Depositphotos.com

On October 18, 1931, Thomas Edison, the inventor of the electric light bulb and many other brilliant inventions, died. On May 1, 1931, he was still alive as millions of his tiny creations lit up the newly built Empire State Building. US President Herbert Hoover symbolically switched on the lights by pushing a button from the White House during the establishment’s opening ceremony.

8. We studied space before we learned about earthquakes.

© DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY / Science Photo Library / East News© Depositphotos.com

Humans started exploring space well before the scientific community settled on a theory to describe how our planet’s crust moves. The notion of continents drifting away from one large lump of land was first proposed in 1912, but it was rejected for several years. It wasn’t until 1967 that Jason Morgan’s plate tectonics theory was fully accepted and published. It had been a decade since the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik 1, the first artificial satellite into orbit.

9. Tiffany & Co. predates both the Kingdom of Italy and the Republic of Italy.

© Vividrange / Depositphotos.com© Depositphotos.com

In 1837, Tiffany & Co. opened its first store in New York City. Mazzini and Giuseppe Garibaldi led a small army across the Italian peninsula at the time, with the intention of capturing city-states and uniting them under one ruler. The Kingdom of Italy was founded in 1861.

The Italian monarchy was overthrown at the end of World War II, and King Victor Emmanuel III officially abdicated. Italy formally became a republic in June 1946.

10. Betty White is older than sliced bread.

© USA TODAY Network / Sipa USA / East News© Depositphotos.com

There’s a reason why the phrase “greatest thing since sliced bread” persists. Can you imagine how difficult it would be to live in a world without cut-up loaves? Betty White, the actress and comedian, can since sliced bread was invented just 6 years after she was born. White was born on January 17, 1922, and pre-cut bread was first sold on July 7, 1928, by a bakery in Chillicothe.

11. Women voting in Switzerland and the Apollo 14 mission were both historic events that occurred at the same time.

© NASA / Heritage Space / Image State / East News© Depositophotos.com

The Apollo 14 crew successfully landed on the moon on February 5, 1971. It was the third time mankind had been able to walk on the moon’s surface. Back on Earth, “womankind” in Switzerland was still celebrating on February 7, 1971, when they were eventually granted the right to vote.

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

© Depositphotos.com© Georges Vertue d’après John Vanderbank / Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

Harvard University was established in 1636 as a college in Massachusetts before changing its name to Harvard in 1639. When Sir Isaac Newton published his Law of Universal Gravitation in 1687, the establishment had already been in place for around 5 decades. Since Newton only developed calculus in the mid to late 1660s, the prestigious university didn’t have it as a subject when it first began.

13. The first moon landing and the invention of the aeroplane occurred not long after each other.

© NASA / eyevine / EAST NEWS© NASA / Heritage Space / Image State / East News

On December 17, 1903, the Wright Brothers flew their powered aircraft for the first time. About six decades after the invention of the aeroplane, we were able to develop rockets and spacecraft that enabled us to travel far beyond the skies. On July 20, 1969, the Apollo 11 mission successfully landed on the moon, allowing Neil Armstrong to take the one big step for humanity.

BONUS: Cleopatra lived during the Golden Age, when the pyramids were built.

© Depositphotos.com© Depositphotos.com© oxygen64 / Depositphotos.com

It might seem odd, but Cleopatra, the Egyptian queen, lived closer to the establishment of the first McDonald’s than the pyramids. Her birth year is estimated to be 70 or 69 B.C.E., which is roughly 2,400 to 2,500 years after the pyramids were constructed. McDonald’s, on the other hand, was founded in 1955, just over 2,000 years after Cleopatra was born.

Is your perspective of time different now that you’ve read this article? Would you like to share some other interesting historical facts or trivia with us?

Preview photo credit BEN STANSALL / AFP / East NewsCollection Christophel / Collection Christophel / East News