AHC: Larger and stronger domination of Tocharians

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Albert.Nik, Feb 12, 2019.

  1. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    Tocharians were an ancient Indo-European peoples,physically mostly European,somewhat like the Celtic people who inhabited parts of West China and probably other parts of Central Asia. They were living in organized city states around the Tarim Basin and were absorbed by the Uyghurs who invaded in the 7th century or so. In this timeline,you need to have a larger expanse of them around Tarim Basin and stronger settlements in and around the Basin to an extent that they can absorb the invaders and not the other way round as it happened IOTL. Have them have unified and strong empires and such. Try to have their original Pre Buddhist Tocharian religion develop like the Celtic/Germanic version of the Roman religion. Turkic people who invade are absorbed into this larger population of Tocharians and the rest are deflected. So how would you have this POD?
    Please note that I'm not replacing anyone here. I'm looking for a POD for containing an OTL invasion or diverting them Eastward here. You can think of this as a resurgent or surviving Eastern Roman Empire or Greater Armenia.
     
  2. TC9078 Empire

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    The main thing that the Tocharians need is a religion that their language is the liturgical language of. The Tarim Basin is not a conducive environment to pulling a Persia and just outlasting your conquerors, they need to absorb them as best as they can. Not sure if it is possible to deter the Turkic migration into the region, but if the circumstances could be done to have them get absorbed by the Tocharians culturally, or, in the above case, getting them to at least keep their religion, which culture can be heavily based in, then they are pretty set for survival, and you'd have another Centum Indo-European Language in Central Asia :eek:
     
  3. Gloss Well-Known Member

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    A quite easy POD would be either no unified China or no Xiongnu.
     
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  4. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    Actually,my POD is an attempt by the Tocharians rather than external factors though you could have some.
     
  5. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    Tarim Basin had some good rivers to build a lasting civizations. So not totally impossible. They could expand into the Greener surrounding regions after gaining foothold and gain a larger and a stronger foothold from where they could survive as a dominant and a large nation in the Central Asia.
     
  6. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    Tarim Basin Tocharians could use Millet Farming along with small animal pastoralism to have a good foothold and build an unified Empire there first and increase their population a lot and then settle in the neighbouring greener regions or well water supplied regions and have a good strong empire like Rome's in the West and eventually joined by Sogdians,Scythians and Sarmatians as Gauls,etc joined Rome. They could have a Tocharian monotheistic religion that could become a major religion in this Eastern Version of Rome built by almost genetically identical people(Tocharians) to the Italo-Celts who built the Latin Roman Empire from the Italic Peninsula. Interesting coincidence!
     
  7. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    As Latin became dominant from the assortment of Italic languages before the beginning of the Roman Empire in the Italic Peninsula,here,a language which is spoken in a more strategic city state of the Tocharians could become the dominant language while others could become dialects. Sogdian and Scythian could be split into two dialects,one with Tocharian mixture and one without. Eventually,some Finno-Ugric people could join too making the domain of Europeans in the antiquity a large transcontinental region. Interesting!
     
  8. Richard V Well-Known Member

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    These people lived in desert oasis cities unable to support large populations through intensive agriculture. It was also a migration highway. The only way they can survive as a distinct group long term is to leave the Tarim basin and move somewhere mountainous and isolated like the Afghans did.
     
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  9. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    There could be a Ethnic cum Universalizing Monotheistic cum Polytheistic religion from the Iranian and Tocharian mythologies patronized by Tocharian kings who would rule this massive Rome of the East. That could help a lot and gain foothold peacefully wherever they would go. The Empire and settlements would range from the whole Tarim Basin,Sogdia,Scythia,Khwarazem, Transoxania,Bactria,Green parts of the West Mongolia,if any and eventually expanding their settlement into all greener parts of Mongolia persuading the local nomadic people to join and later on,parts of Kashmir and unused places in the Indian subcontinent.

    On a funny note,the Kings would look like Björn Ulvaeus or Benny Anderson and queens would look like Agnetha Fältskog or Anni-Frid Lyngstad and the invaders wouldn't "Take A Chance" on them and instead assimilate with them and celebrate with the "Super Trouper" and the empire is going to be "Shinin' like the Sun" and "feelin like the number one"! :p:closedeyesmile:
    Take the last paragraph as a joke! I just wanted to pull this small joke on the readers using one of my favourite Scandinavian band,ABBA! :)
    Mod note: The last paragraph is only a joke not to be taken seriously.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  10. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    They actually lived along the Tarim river and multiple other smaller rivers in that region enough to have a stable supply of millets and such grains and the Regions on the North Tarim Basin were green enough to have a pastoral backup. So I think a large enough domination by them is possible in an ATL.
     
  11. RogueTraderEnthusiast Winner: WillamOfOckham "Most AH.com Title" 2018

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    I've posted about this in the past (I'll find the link when I'm not procrastinating at work) but fundamentally they need to find ways to settle in the mountain ranges nearby. It isn't entirely impossible, especially if those mountains are effectively considered the hinterland for a leading city.

    Short version is that they need to become almost an Inca of the Tarim - dominate the mountains of the Tian Shan mountain range, and use the security of those mountains to allow them to dominate all the neighbouring valleys, and the Tarim Basin. There are plenty of areas that are green and used for agriculture today. But the key is effectively siphoning trade revenues to this end.

    My suggestion would be taking advantage of the city of Kucha - it was regularly the most populous city, and if somehow that advantage can be levied and built upon, it makes a prime candidate. It can easily unite the northern rim of Tocharian Cities, and then use that as a basis to start developing within the mountains.

    This is where it gets a bit odd. The Tocharians need to IMPORT a labour force. I'd be hesitant about Chinese immigrants, because that risks destroying a Tocharian identity, so instead I'd go for importing slaves captured by nomadic tribes - and effectively building peaceful trade relations with them - as much so that they'll do the hard work of "Not attacking traders in Tocharia" but also because it suits the Tocharians for them to sell anyone captured in raids in the west or east to Tocharia (especially children - paying a premium might well lead to quite a trade in children) and settling them in the mountains and instituting a system of corvee labour. Young children raised in Tocharian families and everyone being required to perform a form of Corvee labour to work valleys into terraced farms and orchards.

    A more daft idea - part of me wonders whether or not the Tocharians would be prime to have a greater understanding of the water cycle - and develop infrastructure to take advantage of it. They have mountains, which have ice-melt. They can boil water, and they can see it disappear in the desert - tying the idea of boiling to evaporation - or just value water generally enough to build a system of covered cisterns to preserve their water supply.

    There are a lot of problems that need addressing, but I think that'd be the marker of the Tocharian civilisation, how they adapt the mountains and the desert rim to facilitate their Empire. The only Empire I can think of for the PoD to mimic really is the Inca.
     
  12. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    Excellently described @RogueTraderEnthusiast ! Is there any way they can manage without slavery? Now I would consider Sogdians,Khotanese(Scythians) and Tocharians as insiders/citizens of the Empire in the first wave spread. Importing slaves could be difficult and why would they enslave fellow citizens except have the lower classes in some loosely bonded labourers like it was in the late Medieval Europe? As you said,importing slaves could also dilute the Tocharian identity along with being quite risky and difficult.
     
  13. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    As RTE said,them being a multi level civilizations in multiple terrains,they could learn about Water cycle and Thermodynamics earlier and this could help them further. But for the best possible chance and an empire as large and as advanced as Rome,it would be best they start at an earlier POD. Romans started quite early after the Italo-Celts,the close cousins of the Tocharians settled the regions following the split from the Urnfield Culture associated with Italo-Celtic people who later dominated Europe. The Urnfield range is 1300-750BCE and Rome began in 753 BCE or so and from this we can see that the Latins started pretty early(within few centuries) after splitting off from the Urnfield(Italo-Celts) and Villanovan Culture began by 1000 BCE which was the beginning of the Italic peoples who started the Roman Empire in 753BCE after absorbing the Etruscans. So the analogy for Tocharians would be Afanasevo instead of Urnfield and Villanovan Cultures and the best starting time for the Tocharian Empire would be around 2500-1500BCE when they would have plenty of Time and resources without any threat and as RTE and me said,could build an Organized and expansive empire that could increase the population in the heartland first and soon expand into the mountains and the green valleys North building the Eastern version of the Roman Empire and the population could be large and stable to resist invasions enough. The invaders could rather join and assimilate into this large empire than attack it. Now that timeline could make some sense.
     
  14. RogueTraderEnthusiast Winner: WillamOfOckham "Most AH.com Title" 2018

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    I'm not suggesting enslaving their own people - I mean a system of Corvee Labour vs Military Service is required by law, much like the Inca had. The slaves would be imports from wherever they are captured. They don't have to be slaves once settled, but it is the easiest way to turn a relatively abundant resource (trade gold) into a scarce resource (manpower) quickly. More than likely we'd be looking at the children of rivals of their nomadic allies, until they went further afield. They could try and go for natural growth, but the idea is to establish them as strong and dominant. They need a lot of manpower, because taming those mountains will be bloody work, to ensure that they can expand. The task on hand is far larger that of the Appian way, but once they've tamed at least a route into the heart of those mountains, there are large valleys that provide as much agricultural potential as the desert.

    The biggest concern is that so much of this depends on both overcoming and taking advantage of the isolation of the northern mountains arround Issyk Kul. Once your there however, you've got a great valley to take advantage of.

    So perhaps I'm not entirely right in thinking you need to import slaves - the key really is being able to settle the lands around Issyk Kul, which means invasion. On one hand this means that whoever does this has even more control over the Silk road as the lake was one route, on the other, I can't find any info about who was in power here. It could be a pushover, it could be dire. I'm unsure.

    What is beautiful however, is that there is an excess of water, even the slightly saline 0.6% has a water level that is rising and has submerged previous settlements. This means that the lake would be smaller at the time of the PoD - but also means that intensive irrigation with some salt-tolerant crops is easily practical, if not required to lower the water level, outside of some sort of water-manipulation to redirect sources to areas that would benefit - such as terraces on the southern shore.
     
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  15. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    @RogueTraderEnthusiast Considering Tocharians,Uralic peoples,Sogdians,Scytians(Khotanese join first) whoever and wherever relevant join as citizens in the first wave Empire(analogy is Roman Empire after it spread to Gaul,Hispania and Italia) and then expanding further,they could capture less advanced people as slaves either to the West or the East first and they would then be naturalized and assimilated into this growing Empire. The citizen to slave Ratio would need to be 75%:25% for stable governance and function.
     
  16. RogueTraderEnthusiast Winner: WillamOfOckham "Most AH.com Title" 2018

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    @Albert.Nik I'm not sure I can agree with any of that - there are significant changes just from having a large settled population that isn't vulnerable to nomadic raids, or at least is well protected. It also means it likely has a fortress mentality, and more than likely they wouldn't have a Roman-style Empire of infantry conquering easily defensible land. There is an element of that, perhaps uniting the Tarim Basin, conquering those valleys nearby the heartland, forays into Tibet perhaps - but the majority of the land around their territory would be open steppe. That means either they need a cavalry tradition on par with the nomads, or more likely, a system of soft-power alliances. This might enable some campaigns, but this is much more akin to a sea of nomadic allies/enemies around a series of Tocharian islands. That isn't to mention that the Tocharians may have to pay tribute if somethink akin to the Gokturks arises and can't be manipulated diplomatically.
     
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  17. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    If they start early enough as did their cousins,the Italo-Celts did,they could easily conquer and settle large parts of the regions where OTL Gokturks started from. The descendents of the OTL Gokturks would be assimilated would probably be some Tocharian citizens who'd be farming or be some philosophers in an Alexandria equivalent or even be an emperor like Trajan or Augustus speaking Tocharian B language,also called Kuchen that is the Latin of this Empire. Greek equivalent is Sogdian/Scythian/Uralic/Persian or even Indo-Greek itself. For countering the Nomad threat,they could have good amount of Trebuchets and cavalry like the Equites with well bread Horses. So this Tocharian version of Rome/Europe is possible and it's also possible to easily butterfly any event like 476 CE or 1453 CE of this Rome equivalent with sufficient early start and planning and butterflies. Yes,OTL Italo-Celtic Roman Empire also had Cavalry to a good extent and also did the Slavic,Hungarian and Germanic successors of the Roman Empire.
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2019
  18. RogueTraderEnthusiast Winner: WillamOfOckham "Most AH.com Title" 2018

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    I think you miss my point.

    The Roman Empire was able to expand as it did because it expanded to both urbanised regions with defensible borders. The Steppe lacks a lot of both of these. Where would this "Empire" expand into? This is the same region that China kinda went "Uhhhh... no thanks guys" because it served no advantage, and we aren't exactly talking about civilisation with the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers.

    If we go with the Inca analogue of Mountain Empire, then we basically have a regional rival to Tibet, but with great trade income. It could, with a mix of treaties, punitive forces and settlement perhaps expand towards Lak Balkhash (a good northern frontier), the Aral Sea along rivers, into the Himalayas to fight Tibet (or lose to Tibet). Perhaps towards the NE towards Khovsgol Lake, but I'm not convinced on how agriculturally suitable it would be, let alone realistically unified.

    I think you might see some high periods of Tocharians expanding and establishing almost cousin realms. The Tocharian Empire splitting into the Aral Kingdom, the Kingdom of Heavenly Peaks, Southern Tocharia. However it seems like it'd likely be a series of hard-won settler kingdoms that are at the heart of a soft-empire of influence over the Silk Road and nomads. Those Kingdoms are in a sense economically feasible, but also defensible, and with simpler technology than Trebuchet (which aren't going to appear out of nowhere). They are also surrounded by better horsemanship than that of the Romans, so I expect they can have decent cavalry.

    If building an Empire in this part of the world as a settled people was easy or likely, it'd have happened. I don't see a Roman-Style Empire here - I see a state that has a similar relationship with nomads that China had with its tributary states. Tocharia can punish nomads with a large, well trained cavalry force - but that force still wants to come home, and so relies on not having to guard territory, but letting friendly nomads to that. The nomad threat is so important, and wrangling that is vital to the long-term survival of anything outside of the Lian Shan IMO. Nomads conquered the region so many times, or forced them to pay tribute so many times that realistically the cities existed because of disunity.
     
  19. Albert.Nik Transhumanist,Aspiring Metaphysicist Banned

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    @RogueTraderEnthusiast Okay,let's examine step by step the growth of this Tocharian(somewhat like an Eastern version of Italo-Celtic peoples) empire as with their closely related cousins' Italo-Celtic Rome(OTL).

    Romans or the Latins started soon after separating from the Urnfield and the Villanovan cultures and here we can have the Tocharians start early after migrating into the Tarim Basin after the Afanasevo culture and start the city states and one city becomes somewhat like Rome which was also next to a to a river called Tiber and some city states have connection to the rich and the green lands of the North East and the North if they crossed a pass and build a road like the Via Claudia Augusta to the Northern regions and conquer and colonize it like the Romans expanded and settled and eventually became a majority in the Cisalpine Gaul and Southern France and Hispania. So now Tarim Basin and all the rivers,Green lands of the North are all strongly under the Tocharians,populated by Tocharians and they are now having a stable and a rich yield. Tibet could be tamed and used as a strategic and resourceful land after this. Scythians of the East and the Finno-Urgic peoples who lived adjacent would all find it attractive to join and so the Empire expanded further and so you now have parts of Western Steppes under this empire with Scythians and Uralic peoples living as proud citizens. Now Sogdia could or joined or be conquered like how Rome eventually conquered and absorbed Greece putting cities like Samarkand,Bukhara inside this Tocharian Empire. More strategic regions could be conquered in unpopulated regions in Tibet by someone like Julius Caesar or so and eventually settle Tocharians there and gaining a strong Tocharian foothold there too. Eventually,you could have an Augustus like emperor who could add regions of East Persia and many regions of Northern India and settle Tocharians in all the unused lands here and gain foothold there too. So now you have a Roman like Empire. The Nomadic invasions could easily be defeated now and assimilated into this gigantic population and strong empire and nobody would "Take a chance" with the king.
     
  20. Mongo Well-Known Member

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    Excellent post! I would add the civilization of Iran, with its extensive system of underground qanats:

    A qanāt (Arabic: قناة‎) or kārīz (Persian: کاریز‎) is a gently sloping underground channel to transport water from an aquifer or water well to surface for irrigation and drinking. This is an old system of water supply from a deep well with a series of vertical access shafts. The qanats still create a reliable supply of water for human settlements and irrigation in hot, arid, and semi-arid climates, but the value of this system is directly related to the quality, volume, and regularity of the water flow. Traditionally qanats are built by a group of skilled laborers, muqannīs, with hand labor. The profession historically paid well and was typically handed down from father to son. According to most sources, the qanat technology was developed in ancient Iran by the Persian people sometime in the early 1st millennium BC, and spread from there slowly westward and eastward. However, some other sources suggest a Southeast Arabian origin.

    [...]

    Qanats are constructed as a series of well-like vertical shafts, connected by gently sloping tunnels. Qanats efficiently deliver large amounts of subterranean water to the surface without need for pumping. The water drains by gravity, typically from an upland aquifer, with the destination lower than the source. Qanats allow water to be transported over long distances in hot dry climates without much water loss to evaporation.

    [...]

    Qanats are sometimes split into an underground distribution network of smaller canals called kariz. Like qanats, these smaller canals are below ground to avoid contamination and evaporation. In some cases water from a qanat is stored in a reservoir, typically with night flow stored for daytime use. An ab anbar is an example of a traditional Persian qanat-fed reservoir for drinking water.

    The qanat system has the advantage of being resistant to natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods, and to deliberate destruction in war. Furthermore, it is almost insensitive to the levels of precipitation, delivering a flow with only gradual variations from wet to dry years. From a sustainability perspective, qanats are powered only by gravity, and thus have low operation & maintenance costs once built. Qanats transfer freshwater from the mountain plateau to the lower-lying plains with saltier soil. This helps to control soil salinity and prevent desertification.

    [...]

    The value of the qanat is directly related to the quality, volume, and regularity of the water flow. Much of the population of Iran and other arid countries in Asia and North Africa historically depended upon the water from qanats; the areas of population corresponded closely to the areas where qanats are possible. Although a qanat was expensive to construct, its long-term value to the community, and thereby to the group that invested in building and maintaining it, was substantial.

    [...]

    A typical town or city in Iran, and elsewhere where the qanat is used, has more than one qanat. Fields and gardens are located both over the qanats a short distance before they emerge from the ground and below the surface outlet. Water from the qanats defines both the social regions in the city and the layout of the city.

    The water is freshest, cleanest, and coolest in the upper reaches and more prosperous people live at the outlet or immediately upstream of the outlet. When the qanat is still below ground, the water is drawn to the surface via water wells or animal driven Persian wells. Private subterranean reservoirs could supply houses and buildings for domestic use and garden irrigation as well. Further, air flow from the qanat is used to cool an underground summer room (shabestan) found in many older houses and buildings.

    Downstream of the outlet, the water runs through surface canals called jubs (jūbs) which run downhill, with lateral branches to carry water to the neighborhood, gardens and fields. The streets normally parallel the jubs and their lateral branches. As a result, the cities and towns are oriented consistent with the gradient of the land; this is a practical response to efficient water distribution over varying terrain.
     
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