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In Star Trek, time-travel is very common. But I’m only interested in travel to Earth’s past when it also hosted humans (Q transporting Picard to Earth when life was originating won’t be counted). Some examples that come to mind:

  • In Star Trek: The First Contact, Borg queen and Picard went back to 2063 Earth to prevent and protect the first contact respectively.
  • In Star Trek IV: A Voyage Home, Kirk and crew transported back to 1986 to bring humpback whales.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, Kirk and crew got accidentally transported back to 1960’s (not exactly in my mind) while escaping a black hole.
  • In an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, Kirk and crew went back to 1930’s (not exactly in mind) using Guardian of Forever.

What's the earliest point in human civilisation that anyone has time-travelled back to, in Star Trek?

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  • Certainly not the earliest, but the second season of Picard sees the group travel back to the 21st century.
    – crthompson
    May 13 at 18:14
  • Gary Seven ("Assignment: Earth") is of human ancestry and time travels for his job. We don't know his origin in time, but it could be far beyond the XXIII Century of the Star Trek universe. After all, he transports at least 1000 light years, well beyond the capability of Federation's transporter tech. The original series depicts only one adventure on Earth in 1968, which is clearly not the earliest point in human civilization. It may be, however, the longest jump backward through time (to a point in human civilization) depicted in the Star Trek universe. 2 days ago

4 Answers 4

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In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, "Time's Arrow", some of the Enterprise-D crew travelled back to San Francisco in 1893, in order to stop some time-travelling aliens who were murdering humans in that time period. The story was concluded in the following episode, "Time's Arrow, Part II".

From Memory Alpha:

Trapped in 19th century San Francisco, the crew of the Enterprise must locate Data and prevent his death while stopping the Devidians from destroying Earth's history.


In the Enterprise episode, "Cold Front", Daniels told Archer about a group of anthropologists from the year 2769, who travelled back in time to observe the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza.

DANIELS: When time travel was first developed, it wasn't long before people realised that laws had to be made. All the species who had the technology agreed that it would only be used for research.

ARCHER: But it wasn't. That's what the Temporal Cold War is all about.

DANIELS: Look at this. This is a group of anthropologists from 2769 observing the construction of the Great Pyramid at Giza. They're doing it using the proper procedures set forth in the Temporal Accord. But there are factions that ignore those procedures.

Star Trek: Enterprise - S01E11 - "Cold Front"

From National Geographic:

All three of Giza's famed pyramids and their elaborate burial complexes were built during a frenetic period of construction, from roughly 2550 to 2490 B.C.

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    an honorable mention might be TOS "All Our Yesterdays" - not Earth past (so not totally valid) but humanoids on a planet, Spock and McCoy are sent to pre-historic times
    – NKCampbell
    May 13 at 14:15
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    Slightly more specifically, in "All Our Yesterdays", Spock and McCoy are sent back in time to the ice age of the planet Sarpeidon, where Spock starts behaving uncharacteristically. Spock rebuffs an accusation of irrationality by pointing out that he is a Vulcan, whereupon it is stated that the Vulcan that Spock knows will not exist for 5000 years. May 13 at 20:45
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    Since "All Our Yesterdays" takes place in approximately 2270 AD, and assuming that it was intended that the Sarpeidon ice age was 5000 years before that, that would put Spock and McCoy in around 2730 BC. May 13 at 21:05
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    There was a TOS episode where the crew was put in the place of the Outlaw "Cowboys" at the Gunfight in the OK Corral, which happened in 1881. It was technically an alien re-enactment rather than time travel, but the narrative effect was the same, and that's earlier than 1893 (but obviously not 2500 BC)
    – T.E.D.
    May 14 at 20:13
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Will you accept spin-off novels, or only onscreen episodes/movies?

If you will accept the novels, Spock travels back to the 1860s in Ishmael. That's a few decades before Time's Arrow.

Spock travels back to the time and place of Here Come the Brides, a 1968-70 ABC television series loosely based upon Asa Mercer's efforts to bring civilization to 1860s Seattle by importing the marriageable Mercer Girls from the war-ravaged East Coast of the United States.
...
Spock discovers a Klingon plot to destroy the Federation by killing Aaron Stemple before Stemple could thwart an attempted 19th-century alien invasion of Earth. During most of the story, Spock has lost his memory and is cared for by Stemple, who passes him off as his nephew "Ishmael" and helps him hide his alien origins. Spock identifies one of the women in the story as likely to be one of his ancestors (on his mother's side).

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    The joke here is that Mark Lenard had a leading role on Here Come the Brides, and Jane Wyatt a supporting one. These were the same actors who played Spock’s parents on TOS. It’s basically a published crossover fic with the serial numbers filed off.
    – Davislor
    May 13 at 19:11
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    I did not know that. In fact, I've never seen Here Come The Brides. I read Ishmael without understanding the references. I didn't even know such a show existed until I saw the Wiki article.
    – Pete
    May 13 at 19:20
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In TNG episode "All Good Things..." Q takes Picard back to Earth 3.5 billion years in the past.

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    This is the right answer. As the question is "the earliest in human history" and Q and Picard travel to see the very beginning of life on Earth (although it doesn't go according to plan).
    – Darren
    May 13 at 13:45
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    @Darren Except that this exact event is called out in the question, specifically, as not what the OP was looking for. May 13 at 14:14
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    I clearly gave this particular example in the question to say that this won’t be an answer. May 13 at 14:15
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    @Satellite of Sin - Apologies, this may be a result of me editing the question to say "human history" instead of "human civilisation". I still don't think this is a valid answer, regardless -- the Earth did not host humans, i.e. homo sapiens, during the time period that Q transported Picard to -- but the term "human history" makes that interpretation less of a stretch than the original wording you used. I've now edited the question to say "human civilisation" again. May 13 at 14:26
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    I always felt that was a vision, not legit time travel. Plus, anything Q does is suspect as real.
    – frеdsbend
    May 13 at 14:44
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Time's Arrow (TNG).

After being sent on a priority mission to San-Francisco to investigate the presence of aliens on Earth nearly 500 years before, the discovery of Data's head in a newly discovered cavern, and the presence of a temporal disturbance lead to Data being put out of phase in order to track the aliens. Data relays his observations to the away-team:

He describes two aliens entering a time portal, that he is drawn into. Data finds himself on Earth in San Francisco on August 11, 1893.

There he discovers Guinan, soul-sucking aliens (Devidians) and an "ophidian" creature that resembles a gentleman's cane.

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