How can you say something is historically important or not unless you observe it? What happens if you set up conditions where you intentionally cannot observe a site’s historical importance?
I said in the opening post that some sites might have been chosen as a deliberate trolling for comment, and I think the Svalbard Global Seed Vault is one of them.
The seed vault is set up in the event of a major regional or global catastrophe. They happen so it’s best to be prepared. I’m not sure exactly what side-effects a global catastrophe big enough to use it will have. If it has to be used then the stocking of the seed bank is a major historic event, but it’s probable that many historians of science will be too busy dying to notice. On the other hand a truly civilisation-destroying event like major asteroid strike could mean that the location of the bank and the ability to get there is lost. If nothing much happens then maybe it simply becomes a historic curiosity, like the defensive castles in England built to fight a Napoleonic invasion that never happened.
Even if it doesn’t need to be used it could still be a very shrewd choice for a historical site. The seeds are intended to be stored for hundreds of years. Crops change so effectively this is a time capsule of the early 21st century being kept for the future. It’s not unreasonable to think they will have historic value, and might even have uses for scientific experiments in the future. if you are going to have a site with historical value when should you start collecting evidence.
This hits a problem in history of science head-on. Obviously a lot of the historical evidence for an event is easiest to gather close in time to the event. Still, this gives you the least hindsight, are you too close to the event to appreciate what it is that historic? If you’re defining what is and isn’t important now are destroying what might prove significant in the future?
Of course funding councils have exactly the same problem. I don’t know if anyone has managed to run an experiment comparing the predictive capabilities of funding councils and science historians. If there has been one, please tell me about it. Or tell me what overlooked current event will be the major historical event of the future.