Intermission: Civilizations at the dawn of the Bronze Age - Part II Spoiler : Yonike A canyon-dwelling continental culture of Amerindian origin, the Yonike spent the last two and a half millennia in on-and-off low-scale conflicts with the dark-skinned Agomai from the frigid south of the Agoru river valley. Peaceful grain farmers and hunters-gatherers, the Yonike’s approach to resisting Agomai has always been mostly passive and defensive, which reflects in their stone-house villages nested into the cliffs of the giant canyon going through the Aoni-chehek valley. Isolated from the rest of the world, the Yonike remain locked in the simultaneous conflict and intermixing with the Agomai hillmen. Agomai War-like hillmen and hunters-gatherers of African origin, the Agomai are descendants of the very first groups of migrants that arrived to the Land of the Shining Sky and then got displaced into the frigid shrubland of Agoru hill country. Their culture is shaped around ritualized warfare, but this tendency has been somewhat softened by their ongoing exchange (some times more violent than others). Still, they remain a rural, clan-based society that looks down upon agriculture and remains highly warlike, despite having rather primitive views of military organization. Hazo A civilization of African origin, the Hazo used to be the woodcarving residents of the dense Tantara woods. After centuries of migrations and clashes with other civilizations of the region, they largely migrated out of their cradle and spread widely across an enormous part of the continent. Amazingly, unlike with many other peoples, the somewhat unsophisticated Hazo managed to preserve their cultural and even political identity through a tradition of so-called “tree running” - a form of political, economic, and religious organization, in which a caste of selected, educated athletes (Mpik-Hazak, or “tree runners”) acted as the carriers and facilitators of centralized orders. This enabled an appearance of the first all-Hazo high chiefdom, founded by king Laholona, whose name became both the name of the dynasty and a synonym for “ruler” itself. Under the Laholonas, the Hazo realm spread widely across the forests and woods of the continent, rarely tied to cities, but nonetheless surprisingly organized and centralized. In the Nantara valley, some non-conforming Hazo tribes functioned as the mercenaries during the local Water Wars, while in the Astinanana valley the Hazo unsuccessfully clashed with the mountain-bound Shaln Trasque. In the center of the Hazoan world, the seclusive Bashtunari continue surviving under the purging expeditions of the Laholonas, who eagerly campaign against them order to please the Mpik-Varotra (the merchant caste) and the Valaohani (the priesthood) of Siliko (the Wandering God of tree runners) and Nany (the Goddess of Fertility and Motherhood). Well-known for their woodcarving and unusually flexible internal organization, the Hazo remain an enigma in the history of the Land of the Shining Sky. Bashtunari The Nari were a cryptic tribe of Afrcan origin that migrated into the Land of the Shining Sky only slightly after the Agomai (and forced them into the frigid Upper Agoru valley through centuries of prehistoric clashes). Being since then forced to migrate closer to the colder center of the continent by other migrants, the Nari remained surprisingly sophisticated in their oral and musical culture - traits that would later help them to develop an unusual level of intellectual complexity, despite their hunting and gathering lifestyle. Over time, the original ur-culture split, as some tribes migrated back into the shore-facing Tantara woods, and some remained in the inhospitable Bashtun. Unfortunately for them, the latter group (known as Bashtunari) became a target of numerous genocidal military campaigns by the ever-migrating, numerous, and always expanding Hazo. Reduced to a status of mere human game over the course of centuries, the Bashtunari are now simply trying to survive under the “tree ogres’” onslaught. Tantanari The Tantanari are the splinter group of the larger Nari ethnos, who displaced the Hazo from the Tantara woods and since then were locked in an on-and-off series of conflicts and alliances with various Happataran cities of the left bank of the Nantara river. The most bitter struggle took place when the Happataran city of Tahtarapa extended its colonial reach into the edges of the Tantara woods, clearing them for agriculture and timber exports. This briefly led to a split between the Tantanari tribes: some fell into Tahtarapa’s orbit, attracted by the huge city’s riches and gifts, while others chose to resist, often very violently. During the bloody period of Water Wars that split the Happatara civilization for a few centuries, the collaborating Tantanari tribes acted as mercenaries on the service of the Left-bank Happatara - a role in which the Tantanari and Hazo clashed for the second time in history, but this time as hired men. However, unlike the Hazo tribes of Hattara and Astinanana, the Tantanari hirelings eventually turned against their masters, when a mercenary warchief Andikan took over a pro-Tahtarapan city of Xosa and settled there as the local overlord and dynast. This started the age of “mercenary kings,” who no longer bent their knees to the Pahdatid dynasty of Tahtarapa and instead sought to develop their own legitimacy over the rest of the Tantanari by sponsoring the completion of Nariyaga - an expansive national epic that heroizes and preserves the history of the Nari people, from their arrival to the Land of the Shining Sky to the rise of Andikan’s dynasty in Xosa. Despite lacking a writing system, the Tantanari indeed have grown more culturally conforming once the oral and musical epic of Nariyaga became a shared cultural masterpiece. Time will show if it will remain merely a high point of their development or the first step into the future. Hapattanari The last of the splinters of the Nari civilization, the Happatanari are rather unique in that they’re not an ethnicity that every saw any form of statehood or independence. They originate from the Nari migrants that settled in the cities of Happatara and quickly found a niche there as capable experts, administrators, and tradesmen. Despite a good level of social organization, the Happatara people lacked the surprisingly deep intellectual tradition of the Nari, and soon the “urban Nari” rose inside the hierarchy of the Happataran society, becoming right-hand men of the city-states’ rulers. Despite becoming the majority in a few midstream cities of Nantara, the Happatanari remained well-integrated into the Happatara civilization and comfortable with their role of intellectuals and facilitators on the service of others. They’re known as the geometers and engineers behind the Happatanaran irrigation projects, as well as inventors (and the primary users) of the newly emerged currency based on conch shells, which their unspoken cultural code forbids them to use with non-Happatanari outsiders (a protective measure that keeps the trading niche primarily to their ethnos). This also turned them into the best group of people fit to serve as administrators, tax collectors, and scribes of the Happatanaran rulers, who were only happy to delegate those complex tasks to the eager outsiders. The result of that was the development of cuneiform script based on clay tables. It’s yet to be seen if the Happatanari will find a way to convert their knowledge, influence, and wealth into the actual political power. Right-bank Happatara The Happatara civilization of African origin rose very quickly in the Nantara valley, which river regularly flooded and covered the fields with silt and nutrients. This allowed the settled, agricultural lifestyle to take hold among the Happatara early on, and it’s argued that their villages were first to unite into the first, horizontally organized mudbrick cities. The meteoric rise of the early urban culture, unfortunately, was followed by a relative cultural stagnation, which causes are hard to determine. Ruling hierarchy eventually formed to replace the original grassroot, solidarist social organization, as the people passed the power to individuals capable of effectively managing the irrigation and harvesting activities, which could turn rather tricky in the extremely lush and productive, but capricious floodplains of Nantara. Eventually, the western, left-bank cities fell under pressure from the Hazo and later Tantanari settlers, and this led to the toppling of the original timocratic elite with a new type of ruler: prince-commander. Yet, on the east of the valley, the Right-bank Happatara continued to follow the old ways. The split was finalized when spontaneous clashes between various cities started occur over the access to the floodplains as a result of the Nantara and its tributaries changed their watercourse. The period, known as the Water Wars, lasted over two hundred years and eventually separated the two sub-civilizations. Three city-states emerged as the claimants to the hegemony among the Right-bank Happatara during that period: Jaratta, Tartapad, and Gattaka. Since then, the three remained locked in semi-peaceful rivalry, outfitting various colonization projects into the eastern forested valley of Hattara. Hopefully, this will give their stagnating urban civilization a push for further development. Tahtarapa The Left-bank Happataran history mostly revolves around the “orange city” of Tahtarapa (named that way for the color of its adobe mudbrick, based on the locally excavated clay). During the second millennium, conflicts with the “forest savages” (a collective Happataran name both for the Hazo and the Tantanari), a legendary commander-king Pahda brought Tahtarapa to its status of hegemony among the left-bank settlements, founding the amazingly long-lasting and prestigious Pahdatid dynasty. Originally, the Pahdatids rose thanks to their counteroffensives into the Tantara woods, which timber was later used to construct some of the signature architectural wonders of Tahtarapa. However, this also ensured that the conflicts with the “forest savages” would continue, and during the Water Wars the Pahdatid power briefly reached a record low. It was saved by a distant member of the dynasty, a “bastard prince,” known to history as Pahdatipahda (Pahda among the Pahda) - a name taken to cement his self-perceived legitimacy. Since then, Tahtarapa was reinvigorated, acting as the rally point for the left-bank cities opposing the Tantanaran “mercenary kings” of Xosa. Insular Aghak Some of the most recent cross-ocean arrivals to the Land of the Shining Sky, the dark-skinned Aghak quietly lived on the stormy Aghigbro island chain along the continental shore for millennia. They have so far left few traces of their development, surviving on primitive fishing and hunting for eggs of migratory birds that settled on the cliffs of their home islands. Yet, gradually overpopulation pushed some of the Insular Aghaki groups to cross the narrow, but highly treacherous straights toward the rocky continental shore. There, they came into the first contact with the civilizations of the mainland: the Happatara and the Hazo. Luckily, the contacts have so far been made only with unsophisticated colonists of these civilizations, and the Insular Aghak might have a few centuries to catch up with the civilizations of the Land of the Shining Sky. Continental Aghak Not all Aghaks looking to escape their overpopulated islands ended up crossing the straights. Some boats and drafts got thrown off course, and the survivors ended up forming humble, primitive settlements along the coast of Obarer. There, in the grassy plains they found large mobs of kangaroos, with a specific species of them - the giant short-snout kangaroos - proving to be a relatively simple game to hunt, given a proper hunting tactics. This was the sole survival strategy the isolated Continental Aghak have pursued since then: wandering the outback along the kangaroo migration routes and hunting for the older or sickly specimen, as the easiest game to track. While the specter of hunger no longer looms over them, the Continental Aghak are still far behind many other peoples of the Land of the Shining Sky in their development.