Regions with significant populations
Caran River Valley c. 500,000
Related ethnic groups
The Arcesians were the ancestors of all the Arcesian peoples. The name "Arces" literally means "The People" in the Proto-Arcesian language. The Arcesians were divided into three main groups: the River Dwellers of Azuma, the Plains Dwellers of Hoyad, and the Water Dwellers of Eom. Before the rise of the Arcesian kingdom, the three main groups led rather different lifestyles. The River Dwellers were mainly agriculturalists, with their food products being mainly barley and olives. The Plains Dwellers were nomads who rode a camel-like species which they called the horn-noses. Finally, the Water Dwellers subsided on fishing.
- Main article: Arces
While the three main groups originally had drastically different lifestyles, they all shared very common elements in their religious, social, and political structures. Concerning the origin of these three groups, the most likely hypothesis at this time is that the Arcesians were originally divided between the Water Dwellers and Plains Dwellers; eventually, shortly after the Agricultural Revolution, various groups from both the coastal and plains regions who adopted agriculture migrated into the Caran river valley and founded various settlements, which became the basis for the River Dwellers.
The Arcesians are vaguely Asian in appearance, although they usually lack epicanthic folds. In some ways they resemble the Central Asians moreso, as there is great variation in their eyes and facial structures. Black and dark brown hair are common among the Arcesians, although lighter brown and blond hair is not unheard of. Arcesians are notable for having relatively little amount of body hair, although their facial hair can - and are often - grown to good length. In fact, Arcesian culture places great value on facial hair, with expertly trimmed beards and mustaches revered; there is even a god of facial hair, Rifaj. Arcesian noses oftentimes are somewhat thin; they tend to have lips that are small width-wise (but not height-wise); and their cheekbones can be somewhat high. Men on average reach about 170 cm, while men reach about 165 cm on average.
Besides the vague divisions into those Arcesians who dwelled in Eom, Hoyad, and Azuma, the Arcesians are organized into large tribes, which are composed of up to hundreds of clans, or families. By the fifth dynasty of the Arcesian kingdom, there were only about forty or so tribes remaining. Traditionally, tribes did not have territory per se. Instead, each tribe collectively "owned" a small plot of land considered to be sacred or important (such as the home of a minor god, or the birthplace of a great ancestor). Each tribe had influence, or Temek in Proto-Arcesian, around a certain area, where it could hunt, farm, fish, and so forth, for food and collect resources. Oftentimes the Temek of various tribes would overlap with each other. Rarely would conflicts arise between tribes because of this; usually, tribes would make agreements on how to share resources. Wars were viewed as a last resort, and were conducted usually when a tribe was considered to have broken these rules of agreement. This was not so much the case in Hoyad, the plains, where resources were scarcer, and many conflicts were fought over herds of Horn-noses; entire epics in these regions could be dedicated to just one of these "wars".
Each tribe was headed by the head of the most powerful clan, who can be called the chief, as well as a representative body consisting of influential members from each clan. Depending on region, the power of these two various groups - the chief and the representative body - varied in terms of balance with each other. The River-dwelling Arcesians generally had more powerful chiefs, for instance, because of the centralized nature of their settlements, while the Coast-dwelling Arcesians tended to have more powerful representative groups because of the decentralized nature of their settlements and the longer distances for communication. The Plains-dwelling Arcesians had powerful chiefs in some cases, but only if those chiefs had led their tribe to great military victories.
While the Arcesians were more or less patriarchal, women were considered an important part of Arcesian society. Unmarried women would oftentimes accompany men (usually their brothers or fathers) on hunting or fishing expeditions, for instance. Stronger ones would even take part in the construction of buildings, and those who were considered wise or clever could even be part of the representative body in some parts.
By the beginnings of the Bronze Age, large settlements had developed along the Caran river valley and the more northern parts of the coastal regions. Some of these settlements had relatively large populations of up to the tends of thosuands. The largest and most powerful of these towns, Nohinqal, purportedly had fifty thosuand inhabitants. By the time these towns were established, various kingships had been established in many of the larger cities. Historians are not sure exactly why this occured, but it is possible the office of chief evolved into that of the more centralized and powerful king as a response from the Plains-dwelling Arcesians, or because the River-dwelling Arcesians adopted the idea from such enemies.. The kings of Nohinqal were the most powerful of these kings, and it was they who eventually unified the Caran river valley and founded the Arcesian kingdom.
Neolithic Era (c. -5000 EA to -500 EA)Edit
Evidence of agriculture in the Arcesian region dates back to approximately -5000 EA. Conservative estimates put this date more towards -4000 EA, while more liberal estimates go as far back as -8000 EA. Whatever the date, it is certain that the first agriculturalists in the region were not of Arcesian stock - or at the least they were not full Arcesians. The neolithic cultures of these pre-Arcesian peoples, collectively called the Razam, are evidenced by several archaeological sites throughout the Caran river valley and the central coast of Arces.
Many scholars hypothesize that the Razam spoke the pre-Arcesian substratum that is at the core of current linguistic studies of Proto-Arcesian. This is difficult to verify, however, because the Razam left no written records. Regardless, the Razam I-IV cultures seemed to have lived in small villages of up to several hundred inhabitants. The last Razam culture, the Razam V (c. -1600 to -1000 EA), however, show signs of large settlements supporting perhaps up to several thousand on the Caran.The eastern plains and southern coasts of Arces, meanwhile, were home to the likely ancestors of the Arcesians. Already, by the middle Neolithic, around -2500 EA, evidence shows a divergence between the coast-dwellers and the river and plains dwellers. Whereas before this date there was only one known material culture, called the Komad, after this date all evidence of the Komad culture - defined by its black-topped pottery - disappears entirely. In its place are two separate Neolithic cultures, the Daybir on the eastern plains, and the Ghamaq on the coast, with distinctive styles of pottery (though ones descended from the Komad).
It seems that the Daybir and Ghamaq made incursions into the Razam culture beginning c. -1500 EA. The migrations were largely peaceful and were of unknown cause. Perhaps political disorder on the coast and plains led refugees to seek new territory. Whatever the cause, there did not seem to be any conflict between the two opposing groups, and by -1000 EA all traces of the Razam cultures had disappeared, supplanted by a hybrid Daybir-Ghamaq-Razam culture, called the Nilnamuz, existing from c. -1000 to -200 EA. The Nilnamuz are considered to be the direct predecessors and ancestors of the Arcesian Empire, and it is for this reason that their era is sometimes referred to as the Proto-Dynastic period of Arcesian history.
During the Nilnamuz period, what had been small towns of several thousands grew into large cities of tens of thousands by c. -500 EA. The largest of these, Nohinqal, would be the eventual capital of the Arcesian Empire. There is no evidence suggesting any direct links between the ruling class of these cities, and the eventual dynasties of the Arcesian Empire. This is partly because the first evidence of writing from the Arcesian Empire dates to the late first dynasty, to about c. -300 EA. Regardless, several key features of the Empire's culture were already apparent during the Nilnamuz era, including the [animal] as a symbol of authority.
Old Empire (c. -500 EA to 500 EA)Edit
First Dynasty (c. -500 EA to -350 EA)Edit
The history of Arces traditionally began with the founding of Nohinqal by the first Hekandus, or king, of the first dynasty, called Hrkhasr I (literally, "sun chief"). The date of this event is disputed; ancient sources list various dates, including -1453 EA, -619 EA, and -420 EA. Current scholarship holds the last date to be the most likely. However, Hrkhasr and the first dynasty are semi-mythological at best, as no certain dates can be established for these early Hekandus due to the lack of reliable writing. Although proto-wrting dates back to c. -1000 EA, possibly during the late Razam period, there is no consensus on whether any of these proto-writing samples evidence for Hrkhasr and his successors.
[Insert Hrkhasr legend]
Second Dynasty (c. -350 EA to -100 EA)Edit
The second dynasty of the Arcesian Empire, was founded by Sasannamuz I (literally, "moon meadow", or figuratively, "a meadow bright as the moon") around -350 EA. Legend holds that he was the maternal cousin of the first dynasty's last ruler, Hrkhasr IV. Although no writing dates back to Sasannamuz I's reign, the first definite samples of Arcesian writing date back to the reign of his grandson, Hrkhasr V, around -300 EA, Three clay tablets have been found from this time, and one of them praises Hrkhasr V's predecessor as a great leader who vanquished the previously inept and cruel leaders. Though the writings do not contain any direct reference to the concept of the "Will of Heaven" from which later Arcesian monarchs derived their authority, it is certain that they refer to the very same concept here.
Third Dynasty (c. -100 EA to 10 EA)Edit
The third dynasty of Arces was descended from a certain Arghamat (sometimes spelled as Ar-Ghamat), who was said to have been a younger son of Hrkhasr VII, a Hekandus of the second dynasty. Hrkhasr VII is recorded to have had several sons, the youngest of which was named Arghamat, but whether the third dynasty was actually descended from this Arghamat cannot be proven with current scholarly understanding. Regardless, the third dynasty was founded by the Khasr of Muzhir, Fakhajd, who was a general of the last Hekandus of the second dynasty, Hrnamuz II (literally, "sun meadow"). Hrnamuz II, according to Fakhajd's inscriptions, was an ineffective and corrupt ruler - in contrast to his excellent and noble father, Sasannamuz III - and as a result several rebellions sprung up throughout the Arcesian empire, particularly to the south and east where nomad raids had destabalized the region. Fakhajd, with support from other Khasrs, nobles, and generals, captured and killed Hrnamuz II. He was crowned Fakhajd I of the Third Dynasty around -100 EA and despite the bloody beginning to his reign, had an otherwise uneventful, peaceful, and prosperous reign of thirty or so years. His successors, however, would prove to be less capable.
Fakhajd I's immediate successor, Hrnamuz III, was his younger brother. Since the throne usually passed from father to son, this has led some to speculate the Hrnamuz III may have actually assassinated Fakhajd I. The situation is even more suspicious considering the fact that after Hrnamuz III's death two years later, his successor, Fakhajd II, one of Fakhajd I's sons, defaced and reused some of his uncle's monuments. Whether this proves Fakhajd II to be acting as a filial son is hard to determine, but it is an enticing theory. Regardless, Fakhajd II ruled for a few years before being succeeded by a series of short-lived, inept rulers. The only long-lasting and capable Hekandus of the third dynasty, it seemed, was Fakhajd II's grand-nephew Sasannamuz V (who ruled around -30 to -20 EA). Sasannamuz died young around -15 EA without an heir. The empire was thrown into chaos as his corrupt and incapable cousins attempted to claim the throne. Although one of them succeeded around -10 EA and crowned himself as Fakhadj III, he proved to be an incapable ruler. Natural disasters such as famines and floods, as well as increasing nomad incursions pervaded his reign. Around -8 EA, the signs were clear enough that one of the frontier Khasrs, Menesnr (literally, "breath [of the] sea") claimed that the third dynasty had lost the "Will of Heaven." This was the first time in Arcesian history that the concept was explicitly stated in any sort of official propaganda, and possibly as a result of the turbulent times. Regardless, while Menesnr won some initial victories against Fakhajd III, the death of Fakhajd in -5 EA proved to be a curse in disguise. Fakhajd III's son, Sasannamuz VI, proved to be much more capable than his father. The war dragged on for several more years, with Khasrs supporting both sides. Eventually, Menesnr even begun losing several key battles around -1 EA, being forced to retreat to the plains.
On 0 EA, however, the infamous double eclipse of Etheria occured. Menesnr, ever the skillful propagandist, declared this to be a sign from the gods, that the third dynasty had lost the Will of Heaven. Coincidentally, Sasannamuz VI died several months after the double eclipse. His nephew and successor, Sasannamuz VII, was not as capable of a leader, and by 8 EA had lost control of most of the Arcesian empire to Menesnr, his resistance mainly concentrated on a few Arcesian-controlled coastal settlements to the south. He was captured in 10 EA, and while spared and kept in captivity for the rest of his life, was forced to surrender his throne to Menesnr.
Fourth Dynasty (c. 10 EA to 285 EA)Edit
Fifth Dynasty (c. 285 EA to 527 EA)Edit
PoliticsEditThe political system and history of Arces various among the three major groups, although there is a general trend towards centralization and consolidation of power, particularly in the central and north regions.
River DwellersEditThe River Dwellers are the most politically centralized of the Arcesian peoples, with most of the Caran valley (save the more easterly regions inhabited by Plains Dwelling nomads) already under the control of the so-called Arcesian Empire. Out of all the Arcesians, the Empire deviated the most from typical Arcesian political culture. It was a monarchial system with the Hekandus (translated oftentimes as Emperor) at its head. Although the Hekandus was not considered to be a god or a godlike being, his power and authority was said to have been derived from the will of heaven. That is, it was the gods, collectively, who agreed that such a person was fit to rule. If there were large disasters, famines, wars, and so forth, then this was a sign of the gods' displeasure, and in such a case it was fit for the Hekandus and/or his dynasty to be overthrown. If there were minor distrubances, such as smaller disasters or shorter-term plagues, this was said to have been caused by angry, minor gods who disagreed with the majority of the gods' approval for the current Hekandus. Originally, the Hekandus was elected from eligible members of the family, but this changed during the third, fourth, and fifth dynasties with the coming of the Plains invaders.
After several centuries, the Arcesian Empire developed a primitive but highly efficient bureaucracy and political organization. The overall, empire-wide administration was originally headed by a Vizier, called the Qjrmis. Over time, several more officials were designated as Qjrmis, possibly to divide their responsibilities into different sectors (such as finance or military), or to reduce their power. At a more local level, a chief (usually from the most powerful tribe or clan) would be elected in every major town and city by representatives from each of the local tribes, a remnant of the representative bodies of elite persons that once took part in ruling many of the settlements. This chief, called the Khasr, if then approved by the Hekandus, would become the governor of that town or city and the surrounding regions. The Khasr would then become something of a miniature Hekandus, one who was also needing of the local gods' approval. If the Khasr proved to be a bad governor, and famines, droughts, and the such would occur in the region, then the elites from each of the local tribes would overthrow him (or vote to remove him) and install another Khasr from their own ranks. In times of unrest, or during transitory periods between various dynasties, the Khasr would even become de facto independent rulers, some of which were ambitious enough to claim the throne of the Arcesian Empire. The Hekandus, Qjrmis, and Khasr would appoint various officials and scribes who were usually drawn from the educated upper-class and, increasingly in later periods, from those well-to-do in the upper-middle class (such as wealthy merchants).
Alongside such organized organization of local rule, the old Temek system survived, as each Khasr ruled over a certain temek (sphere of influence) rather than an actual well-defined territory. Squabbles over where each Khasr's temek reached was resolved by the Qjrmis or Hekandus, or representatives thereof. Likewise, concerning the Hekandus, it is probable that the reach of the Hekandus' temek was the same as the "borders" of the Arcesian Empire; Khasrs and other local rulers who joined under the Hekandus' temek.
It is believed that the offices of Khasr, Qjrmis, and possibly Hekandus were leftovers from the pre-Arcesian substratum. This is becuase the first two have syllablic r, which is theorized to have been from this substratum. Furthermore, Hekandus has no viable cognates in reconstructions of Proto-Arcesian, leading many scholars to believe that the Hekandus, or whatever was its precedent, was originally some kind of powerful title among the pre-Arcesian people.
The Plains dwelling inhabitants of Arces were mainly nomadic or semi-nomadic herders living on the eastern Plains of the region. By the founding of the Arcesian Empire, however, many of these nomads were concentrated in areas immediately within the vincinity of the Empire or the coastal city-states. Relations between the nomads and the settled peoples of Arces varied greatly. Certainly they all recognized that they were linguistically and culturally related (as indicated in the Azuma Letters), but diplomatic relations varied between war and raids, and peaceful co-existence and trade.
The Plains-dwellers, being the most decentralized of the Arcesians, were, ironically, the ones who were most reliant on the Temeks as a method of keeping peace between various tribes and clans. Feuds, wars, and raids for horn-noses and other livestock were common among the Plains-dwellers. Because of this, Plains-dwelling chiefs were oftentimes more powerful than their Coast-dwelling or non-imperial River-dwelling counterparts; additionally, by the founding of the Arcesian Empire, many of the Plains-dwelling chiefs were purely hereditary, as opposed to being elected.
By the fourth dynasty of the Empire, conflict between the Plains-dwellers and the Empire had grown to an immense degree, with the Hekandus' establishing a military office, the "General of the Border Mountains", solely to deal with the Plains-dwellers. In fact, it was a tribe of the Plains-dwellers who conquered the Empire and established the fifth dynasty of the Empire during the Daihexi invasions, thus changing the history of Arces for good with the unison of the River and Plains dwellers.
The Coast dwelling Arcesians were divided into centralized city-states of up to several tens of thousands, or smaller fishing towns and villages. Many of these settlements were mainly concentrated on the delta of the Yotsub river and the Kjamus islands, although some reached as far as the Caran river and the Sharqal river.
The city-states, which may have numbered from as few as ten to as many as forty, were of varying power and structure. Most, however, kept the traditional Arcesian political organization of the chief and the representative body. One or a few tribes - as high as ten - ruled each city-state. The temeks of each city-state varied, depending on the circumstances. Sometimes, the temek would be collectively decided by the tribes, and thus there would be one temek for that city-state or settlement. In other cases, each tribe would still retain their own temek despite inhabiting the same settlement or area, and other groups could in theory negotiate with each tribe separately. Other settlements fell in between these two extremes.
Historically, the relationship between the various city-states, as well as the Plains nomads and the River Empire, varied greatly. Alliances, wars, and trade were oftentimes negotiated using clay tablets from the Caran river valley (hinting at the River dweller's influence). Sometimes, the Empire played off various city-states against each other. At other times, the city-states banded together to protect themselves from Plains raiders or from imperial incursions.
A number of the northernmost city-states and colonies fell under the rule of the Empire, starting around the third dynasty. Most of these settlements were not ruled directly, however, as local rulers and elites were allowed to retain control. These persons were designated the title Haiyamtai (meaning mighty hand). Generally, tribute would be paid to the Empire - whether these were in olives, copper, pearls, or other resources - and as long as this tribute was paid, the Empire would not interfere in local affairs. This situation was to change with the coming of raiders and colonists from Daihexi.
main article: Proto-Arcesian
see also: Proto-Arcesian Swadesh list
All of the Arcesian peoples spoke some variant or descendant language of Proto-Arcesian. The Proto-Arcesian language most likely spoken in the southeast region of Arces around 2000 BEA. It spread northward and westward over the next few centuries, supplanting many of the pre-Arcesian languages, some of which contributed to the Pre-Arcesian substratum of vocabulary and other synatactical features.
Classical Arcesese was the lingua franca of the Arcesian region by about 500 EA, and it was the de facto official language of the Arcesian Empire.