Collaborative timeline: Dunes of the Desert, a Timeline without Islam

Chapter 98: Majapahit, The Hegemon of the Islands of the Sea
The Straits of Melacca, the narrow passage between the Golden Chersonesos (1) and the island of Sumatra had become of strategic importance. It is one of those geopolitical chokepoints, which is worth controlling. At its narrowest, it is less than two miles (2) across, thus any naval traffic can be effectively monitored and tolled. The Straits have gained crucial importance, as they happen to connect the Ilkhanate in Persian with the Yuan in China. True, you could still walk or ride along the Silk Road, through allied territory, should you wish to overcome deserts and mountains.

These straits have come to be controlled by the Majapahit, a realm based originally in eastern Java, who have become the new powerhouse in the region after the downfall of the Melayu Kingdom. While Melayu was based in eastern Sumatra, in places vulnerable to flooding, the Majapahit , as stated had their base in the eastern Java. Originally it appeared that another realm, the Singhasari of eastern Java would arise to dominance, however they have made a strategic mistake by refusing to pay the Naimans tribute. This greatly angered the Yuan who have sent a large naval expedition to deal with them, however they had to retreat. Their conquest of most of Sumatra, except the western coast and the northernmost extremities was surprisingly quick.

Majapahit has thus become the hegemonic power in Maritime Southeast Asia, dominating the Spice trade and naval traffic.

An example of Majapahit architecture in Trowulan, its capital
Majapahit lacked a professional army – their soldiers were mainly mobilized peasants, equipped with bows and arrows, bamboo spears and short blades. After the Yuan expedition, however the Majapahit have learnt how to use gunpowder, which gave them a technological advantage over their neighbours – therefore he Majapahit are going to be on the offensive for quite some time (3).

There were five levels of administrative divisions of the Majapahit realm. The entire realm (bhumi) was divided into provinces (nagara), which were ruled by the rajya,natha (lord), bhre (duke). The second level of divisions were the regencies (watek), administered by wiyasas. The district (kuwu) was the third level, held by a lurah. The individual villages (wanua) were ruled over by a thani. The hamlets (kabuyutan) were then the ultimate division. For the most part, however all territories outside the island of Java were administered as tributary states inside the mandala system. The core areas were administered by members of the royal family, under a system of appanages, so that the area could be described as feudal.

Governments in Souheast Asia around 1300 AD

An example of Kawi script

In terms of culture, one can make the statement that the Majapahit Empire can be credited for spreading the Kawi script throughout the Malay Archipelago, and bringing about a sense common identity in the area. In terms of religion, the Majapahit accept both Hinduism and Buddhism. In contrast to Mainland Southeast Asia, the Buddhism in Maritime Southeast Asia consisted of the more syncretic Mahayana form, which could be found also in China and the northern parts of India. The Majapahit state administration did regulate both religions: there was a Dharmmadhyaksa ring Kasewan, who was the kingdom´s highest Hindu priest of Shiva, and a Dharmmadhyaksa ring Kasogatan, regulating Buddhist practices within the realm.

Religion in Southeast Asia. Sumatra is Mahayana, as is Vietnam. Theravad Buddhism is practiced in Burma and the Thai, Hinduism prevails in the Mekon Delta, on Java and Borneo. Msadeqiyya has been embraced in Aceh, Champa. Chinese Manicheism ( Mingjiao) found in Fujian province is a different denomination
At the western tip of the island of Sumatra, however there a realm practicing a religion rather novel to Maritime Southeast Asia: Pasai. In the previous century, Msadeqi Manichaeism has established itself at the northernmost tip of the island, and the religion has been spreading southwards. The religion could make significant inroads into the area, due to the fact that it appeals to an urban maritime society. After all, Mazoun, where Msadeqism emerged was just that, as was Maritime Southeast Asia. Manichean requirements of vegetarianism can be easily met- after all, Hinduism already prohibits eating cow´s meat and Buddhism encourages vegetarianism as well. Moreover, if you live in an archipelago, the abundance of fish actually solves the problem pretty easily.

The Langkasuka kingdom, spanning from Kedah to Ligor on the Malay isthmus has also accepted the Msadeqi religion. While not spreading much outside of the port of Kedah, Msadeqiyya has established itself a base in the area.

The polities of Southeast Asia
Along the western coast of Sumatra lay the kingdom of Pagarruyung; other states in the region include the Hindu kingdom of Brunei on the western coast of Borneo and Kutai on its eastern shore. The southern coast of the island has come under influence of Majapahit; however the interior is still tribal, as it is largely inaccessible, as boats and ships are the main means of transport; the tropical rainforest has deterred major exploration of the interior.

In the Greater Moluccas, we can see the establishment of the Cebu and Maguindanao realms, other than that, business as usual. The Tondo kingdom is in frequent contact with China, especially with the port at Qunazhou; and in case of Yuan repression it is likely going to be the target of Manichean refugees fleeing persecution. The Greater Molluccas have also developed their own writing systems, from Kawi. Mainly the Baybyin script in the Tondo kingdom,the Badlit script in Cebu, and the Buhid script in the west.

The writing systems of Southeast Asia
Within the Chinese sphere is also Vietnam, which is now a tributary of Yuan. Champa has experienced also a slow spread of Msadeqism, although restricted to the coastal strip. The Chams have made contact also with the Manicheans of China , who called their own religion Mingjiao (Religion of Light), and have reocgnized each other as being Manicheans, although the differences between them were quite large(4) .The Mekong Delta is possibly the sole part of the region that has remained Hindu, as the Khmer Empire and Sukhothai have both converted to Theravada Buddhism. The Sukhothai kingdom is an ethnically Thai kingdom, and the Thais have entered the lowlands of the Gulf of Thailand, replacing the previously dominant Mon-Khmer peoples in the area.

The Thais have established themselves in the central part of Mainland SE Asia
As for the Pagan kingdom in Burma, after Naiman attacks it collapses and two successor realms emerge: Pegu in the south, in the Iravadi delta, and Myinsaing in the Upper Burma region.

  1. As it had been known to the Greeks, referring to the Malay Peninsula
  2. Or three kilometres
  3. Perhaps we may speak about the Roman Empire of Nusantara?
  4. Although not as large as if they were to be contacted by Mazounis
Chapter 99: Demographics of the Abaqid Khanate

A map of the Abaqid Khanate
The Abaqid Khanate(1) (Abaqaina Khaanat ulus) is the geopolitical heir of the Kara-Khitai khanate, located in Central Asia. It encompasses the regions of Khorasmia, Sogdia, Tukharistan, Ferghana, up to Lake Balkash. In the east, it stretched across the Tengri (2) Mountains into the the Tarim Basin. The realm thus includes within its borders several deserts: the Karakum, the Kyzilkum and the Taklamakan.

A document written in Uyghur script. Uyghur script is written in a vertical manner, due to influence from China
The Abaqid khanate, also sometimes labelled as Sughd (Sogdia) deeply divided both religiously and linguistically. The major linguistic divide happens to be on a north-south axis. In the north, the majority of the people speak a Turkic language – Karluk in the west and Uyghur in the Tarim Basin. In the south, Iranian languages are spoken – mainly Sogdian in the central regions, but also Tukhari remains spoken. In the Tarim Basin, there is still the Saka language spoken in its western end.

A linguistic map of the Abaqid Khanate
The standard Karluk language (3), spoken at Almaliq has become elevated to an official language – at first becoming the language of the military, later also becoming the language in which laws and official orders are distributed, and also becoming a literary language. After all, the Abaqid khanate has a Turkic upper class of conquerors, who at court are consumers of higher culture. Sogdian itself is hardly understood by the average Abaqid nobleman. The Karluk language is being written using the Uyghur alphabet, derived from Sogdian, but better suited to the sound intricacies of a Turkic language.

A map of the scripts used in Central Asia. Sogdian is dark blue, Uyghur is light blue extending from the Aral Sea to Turfan, Kharoshti is blue-greyish
The linguistic borders of the Sogdian language have retreated considerably southwards, with the city of Tashkent now mainly Turkic. Sogdian nevertheless remains a vibrant language, a lingua franca of the Silk Road, spoken by merchants, but also a liturgical language among the followers of the Church of the East in Central Asia (4). Sogdian was considered a classical language, and thus if a nobleman in the Abaqid khanate wanted to sound educated or rich, he would drop a phrase or two in Sogdian.

A text written in Sogdian script
The Khorasmian language on the other hand has almost completely fallen out of everyday use, and could be heard mainly among the more isolated pockets of Denawar Manicheans living in the valley of the Lower Oxus (5). It could be heard as a liturgical language, or among the “elect” of the Manicheans. But even in the Lower Oxus Basin, without knowledge of either Sogdian or Karluk, you would find yourself easily lost.

The Tukhari language, spoken on the Upper Oxus valley (6) has survived among the highlander population in the area. The language has been historically written using the Greek alphabet, however, contemporarily, it is usually written with Sogdian in the lower parts and Kharoshti script (7) in the upper parts, and for religious texts.

In terms of religion, the realm is divided in a west-east manner. The Karluks and the population of Ferghana and Sogdia are mostly Christians. Buddhism is prevalent in Khotan, Qocho and Tukharistan. Furthermore, there still remains a sizeable Manichean population of Denawar denomination in the west and Toxoxian in the region of Qocho.

The metropolitan province of the Church of the East in Central Asia
The Church of the East within the Abaqid khanate consisted at first of the metropolitan provinces based in Samarqand, Ferghana, Navekath and Khotan. Two new metropolitan provinces have been stablished during the reign of Naimans: Almaliq has been elevated to an archbishopric, as it had become the capital of the realm, and Bukharah, which became detatched from Samarqand. Ultimately, Tashkent (Shash) has come to detatched from Ferghana and made its own province. Thus the number of archdioceses in the realm has risen from four to seven.

Buddhism in the realm, as stated in an affair mostly in the eastern parts of the realm. Both the Saka and the Tukhari are Iranian-speaking peoples, using the Kharoshti script, and belonging to the Mahayana tradition. The Uyghurs in the Qocho region mixed the Buddhist religion of the pseudo-Tocharian (Arsian) peoples they had encountered in the Tarim basin with their own Manichaean beliefs of their own Toxoxian branch (8). The demographic balance between the two is roughly equal (9).

Religion in the Abaqid Khanate
Ultimately, there is a third religion in the house. Denawar Manichaeism. The Denawar in 1000AD almost fully dominant in the Central Steppe, have now been reduced to a number of isolated communities: the Yenisei Kirghiz in the north, the Bolghars on the Middle Volga, the Pakhtun of Zabulistan and Segestan and of course the Sogdians and Khorasmian, who are now in a central position in regards to all of the mentioned communities.

As for Manicheans in Sogdia proper, they are not completely extinguished, rather they maintain a small presence (10), comparable to that of the Jews in Europe. However, given the region´s mercantile traditions, the business and trade very likely to remain in the hands of Christian merchants, who, with their network of monastery checkpoints can outcompete any Manichean out of the market. The small Manichean minority (+/- 10-15%) in Sogdia would specialize themselves to artisans, artists and money-lenders to some extent as well.

The first khans have openly identified with Christianity – Abaqa khan himself however a rather tolerant ruler, who allowed for all religions to coexist in peace.

His heir, Baraq has however become a Christian zealot, staunchly opposed to Buddhists, whom he declared to be “demon worshippers”. The open persecution of one religion or another by a khan had been unheard of – for centuries has this region been a tolerant place, harbouring Buddhists, Zoroastrians, Manicheans, Christians, Jews and Tengrists. Even some of the Nestorian bishops have protested against this move.

On Baraq´s command, it had become prohibited to establish a new monastery, and Buddhist monasteries were no longer supported by the state. Furthermore, it had become required that all governors become Christians, and a specific poll tax was decried upon the Buddhists

One of the most direct results of the persecution of Buddhism has been the destruction of the cathedral at Khotan, burnt down by enraged Buddhists. The Tukhari people have risen in revolt. Ultimately, Baraq was murdered by his nephew Kaidu, who has annulled all anti-Buddhist decrees. He reembraced the traditional policy of religious tolerance in the region, and has declared royal patronage over the Church of the East, the Holy Church of the Denawar of Mar Manni as well as Buddhism of the Mahayana school. In fact, Mar Ammo, the Yagma (11) of Samarqand has become a very close friend of Kaidu.

The Manichean faith will see this time as a time of renewal and consolidation, and the Manicheans are now sending many preachers again to the Uyghurs, whose autonomous church organization had collapsed and have mostly merged into Buddhism. (12)

Kaidu has sought to bring about internal stability, because his aim was to be found southwards, in he still unconquered Subcontinent named India. Controlling Kabulistan meant that he already had a strategic base for his invasion of India, although controlling Zabulistan would also be helpful. Anyhow, Kaidu was prepared to follow the footsteps of the Kushans to unite India, Sogdia and the Tarim Basin. Will he succeed?

  1. Named after Abaqa, which is just one of the Mongol names that came to my mind. If the Chagatai khanate was named after Chagatai, well why not this alternate khanate be named after someone else?
  2. Tianshan
  3. Something like the OTL Chagatai language
  4. Similar to the role of Latin in Medieval Europe
  5. A region similar to Karakapalkastan and the former OTL Khanate of Khiva
  6. In the region of Bactria, or if you prefer modern terminology, then most of Tajikistan and adjacent NE parts of Afghanistan
  7. Kharoshti is a script originating in NW Pakistan (Khyber Pashtunwa), and has spread also as far as the Tarim Basin. Therefore, I deem it logical for a Buddhist population to maintain its connection to India using a writing system originating in India.
  8. Manichaeism in China (Mingjian) has descended from the Toxoxian branch practiced by the Uyghurs, rather than from the Msadeqi of Mazoun.
  9. While one may contend, that Sogdia and Ferghana are going to be more densely populated, it ought to be reminded that the region suffered much more devastation during the conquest than the Tarim Basin or the Tukharistan Valleys – the former subdued itself willingly to the Naimans, the latter was too much a backwater to be sieged down properly.
  10. The Manicheans have suffered relatively more than the Nestorians, as they were more urbanized than their Christian neighbours.
  11. Highest religious title in the Manichean Church organization, analogous to the office of a Christian patriarch
  12. I do not know to what extent this will succeed. But Mahayana in OTL has proven to be easily susceptible to become displaced by other religions, be it in Northern Indian, Central Asia or China, perhaps because it can be described as a syncretic faith? The Manicheans are perhaps the world´s best organized syncretic Gnostic religion, and could make advantage of it, perhaps even displacing the Mahayana within the Abaqid khanate to a significant extent.
Very interesting update. OTL there were also notable Jewish populations in the eastern Iranian region, in addition to those religions you already mentioned.
Very interesting update. OTL there were also notable Jewish populations in the eastern Iranian region, in addition to those religions you already mentioned.
As for the Jews, I believe their major concentration in Sogdia is at Bukhorah. I have left out the Jews from the update as they were not as influential in political matters.
Nevertheless, the Jews are present in urban Sogdia, as well as a Zoroastrian community is also present in Sogdia. For part of the Miaphysites, they have merged with the Nestorians, losing their identity
Chapter 100: Golden Horde Update

Hello folks, here we are back with the golden 100th chapter, about…well… the Golden Horde. This timeline has been going on since 8th December 2018, meaning it is 1 year, 3 months and 8 days long. There have been 344 replies and over 36 000 page views. I personally have written 236 replies, followed by @Goldensilver81 with 17 replies, @Blacklister with 13 replies and ,@Mike Louis with 11 replies, and another 28 people have left at least one reply (unfortunately, 4 of them have been banned. As until today, we have 130 threadmarks. I am thankful for all support, and as I have been previously writing, I am open to people adding their thoughts and helping develop the timeline. After all, that was my vision for the project, to see how the world would develop without the presence of one global religion.

But let us return to the western part of the Eurasian Steppe, shall we? As had been hinted, the area has been conquered by the Naimans, and later becoming an independent successor realm. The Naiman invasion of the area came from the south, where they have defeated a coalition of Alans, Circassians and Khazars in northern Caucasus. Subsequently, many of the Cumans have joined the Naimans without resistance, while others have fled into East Slavic lands.

The Khazar cities along the Caspian coast have been looted, as has been Astrakhan. While heading westwards, Taurica (1) was conquered as well, although the Goths have made a strong stand on Taurican Isthmus (2). The result was that the peninsula was conquered and plundered, with many Rhomaic townsfolk leaving the area by ship for good.

Kipchak royalty
The Naimans turned northwards, taking the Itel (3) upstream, where they laid waste to the Bolghar kingdom. The cities of Bilär, Bolghar, Suvar and Juketau were looted, and a large proportion of the population were either killed or enslaved. As a result, the area underwent significant depopulation, and the southern area of former Bolgharia were now resettled by nomadic Cumans, while the core of the Bolghar territory shifts northwards to the confluence of the Itil and Kama rivers.

The combined armies of the East Slavic (Russian) principalities and the Merya kingdom were crushed on the Khopyor River (4). Their military might was destroyed, but the Naimans then retreated, to return once more, but this time remaining, to loot and pillage. The Merya kingdom was directly annexed by the Naimans; the remaining Russian principalities with the exception of Novgorod forced to pay a tribute.

The Naimans had raided Poland and Slovakia, and the Danube provinces of Rhomania before retreating. The Naiman pillaging army was however defeated at the heavily fortified passes of the Haemus Mountains. The reason was that a fraction of the Cumans had migrated westwards (this fraction was large enough to make considerable ethnic shifts in the Carpathia basin, but more about that later (5).

Gaze in awe at the vast empire
The Golden Horde was geographically speaking on of the largest land empires in the world, spanning from the Carpathian Mountains to the Altai, from the Caucasus to the Urals, bringing under its fold a very diverse. The name of this state varies – sometimes it is described merely as the Golden Horde, a translation of the original Altyn Orda, but it is also known as Desht-I –Kipchak. The capital was located in Sarai, meaning city, on the lower Itel, not fat from Astrakhan.

The overwhelming majority of the population in the realm was now speaking a Turkic language, with Cuman or Kipchak being the widespread. The linguistic border of the Khazar language has shifted considerably southwards. Furthermore, there were the Pechenegs living to the west of the Dnieper River (although many have crossed the border over to enter Rhomaic services. Ultimately, there are the Bolghar, who have suffered a large blow during the invasion.

Languages of the Kipchak Khanate
Among the subjects of the khan are also various Uralic peoples. Primarily these include the Merya and the Mordvins, who have lost their statehood and are now subject to Kipchak rule. Other Uralic peoples within the fold of the khanate include the Permians and the tribes of Yugra – the Khanty and the Mansi.

Moreover, under the fold of the Kipchak rule came all the various peoples of the northern Caucasus, be they Circassians, Alans or Vainakh, as well as the Goths of Crimea.

In general, when referring to the population of the khanate, medieval chroniclers would usually speak of Naimans and later Kipchaks (6). The term Kipchak is thus frequently employed as the ethnonym for the diverse population of the khanate. The first khans had to combat severe depopulation of the area, and the cities were home to a large number of Armenians, Khazar-speaking Jews

Originally, the first ruling khans of the Kipchak horde were Nestorian Christians, as they have been Naimans by birth. A separate Metropolitan province had been established for the Golden Horde seated at Sarai to encompass the middle and lower Itel basin, bound by the Urals River and mountains in the east. Among tribes which relatively quickly converted to Christianity were the Bashkirs, living on the western side of the southern Ural Mountains.

Religion in the Golden Horde (Kipchak khanate in 1300 AD
However, another version of Christianity was already deeply entrenched within the borders of the Kipchak Khanate: Orthodox Christianity. Apart from the vassal Russian principalities, there was already a large number of Orthodox subjects of the Khan within the borders of the khanate itself- namely the Merya and the Alans. By the year 1300, the khan converts to Orthodoxy.

There continues to be a significant number of Tengri shamanists in the west, however they are giving way to the Christian religion. As has been mentioned, the eastern lands (in the Ob and Urals basins) are predominantly Nestorian, and it is likely that the realm will be divided into two (7) . This could be a logical outcome.

Gradually, the Kipchak Khanate developed a sendentary culture, with large cities such as Sarai, Sarkel, Bulgar and Saray-Yuk surrounded by large tracts of agricultural lands. The western parts of the Steppe, especially to the west of the Itel River, were exceptionally fertile, and the Kipchak khans were seeking to becoming one of the largest grain exporters of Eurasia.

  1. Crimea
  2. Isthmus of Perekop
  3. Volga River
  4. Taking place of the Battle of Kalka River
  5. As Béla Bugár would say, O tóm potóm
  6. Thus no Tatars in this timeline.
  7. Historically, this has been the case. There existed a division into a Blue (Western) and White (Eastern ) Horde--- perhaps because the winters are harsher in Siberia
Man. 130 trademarks and already in the 1300s while IAM in 830s

Your timeline is a good way to Analyze this question and it's been fun comparing the timelines

It brings ligth to Cody's phrase but this is just one scenario
Either way congratulations on the 100th chapter
Chapter 101: Iranian Ilkhanate

The flag of the Ilkhanate consisted of a red square in a golden field. Very original

The southwestern successor state of the Naiman Empire was the Ilkhanate, with its capital at Maragheh, on the Adarbaidagan Plateau to the east of Lake Urmia. Geopolitically, it was almost a copy of the realm it had conquered – the Seljuks Empire in Persia. The Ilkhanate is not bound by the Euphrates in the west and has challenged the Rhomaic Empire. The result was an utter defeat of the Rhomaic army at Kelezene (1), opening up the almost the entire Anatolian plateau for the armies of the Ilkhan, except for the coastal strips, as the Rhomaic Empire does have a strong fleet and manages to supply the fortresses from the sea.

The Ilkhanate has also pushed southwards into Syria, where they seized Damascus. One of their later campaigns targets also Jerusalem, whose army was utterly defeated in the Golan. In this campaign, the vast majority of the forces were of Mesopotamian and Persian descent, to a smaller extent also some Syrians. The direct result is the final end of the Wars of the Holy Sepulchre, with control over the sacred Christian sites in the hands of the Nestorian Church.

This fact, dim as it may be, is difficult to digest for the Catholics and Orthodox alike, but not that they are in a position to do something about it. The Orthodox lands except the Aegean Sea basin and Thrace were already ravaged by the Naiman hordes; the Catholics are not feeling like crossing the entire Mediterranean to fight a force that conquered China and Persia in a whim.

A map of the Ilkhanate
However, much as the Ilkhans like to look at the map to see the vast empire that belongs to them, is rather depopulated. It was chiefly the cities along the Silk Road, from Nehavend to Semnan, to include Rayy as well, that have suffered disproportionally much. Especially the Iranian Plateau has become much more rural, with many people living in the valleys of the Zagros or the Elborz Mountains. The Ilkhans have organized their realm into a feudal system of appanages, each ruled by individual clans. The Donation of Toghrul in central Mesopotamia remains as it was; other than that, however, all lands are held by individual landlords, or clans, respctively. The Ilkhanate has become dependent especially on the Turkic, the Lur and Armenian clans in raising their levies.

The Armenians, living in the Highlands have moved in westwards, into the Anatolian Plateau, into regions previously depopulated by Rhomanians. Along with them a few Turkic tribes settle as well. The westward migration of Armenians seems to be one of the final blows to the surviving Anatolian language, which has been enduring long enough.

The Fertile Crescent as well sees some changes. All Greeks have fled by this time to the narrow coastal strip, while Arabic tribes from the Syrian Desert settle, the lands bordering the Deserth, especially the central Euphrates Valley, as well as the eastern bank of the Jordan Valley. The Aramaic languages, while on the retreat at this point, however remain dominant, and in use, as they are of high importance as liturgical languages (in the Jacobite and especially the Nestorian Church).

Languages of the Ilkhanate. Note: Egypt may be subject to some changes
Regarding the dialects of Aramaic, at this point, we can distinguish a number of them, from west to east. The Palestinian Aramaic is spoken in, well, Palestine, and has a Hebrew substrate, as well as layers of Greek, Arabic and most recently also Romance languages. Its distinct varieties belong to different religions, especially noted from written documentiation is the variety used by the Samaritans and the Chalcedonian Christians.

Further northwards, there are the Lebanese and Damascene varieties, with Damascene having had a heavy Arabic influence, to a smaller extent also some Greek and Oghuz Turkic influences as well.

In the places where the Fertile Crescent turns into an east-west direction, we can witness the Turabdin dialect. This dialect can be distinguished by a substantially large written corpus, as it has become the standard dialect of the Jacobite Syriac Church (West Syrian, Miaphysite). The majority of their faithful are now located here, and the seat of the Patriarch has been transferred once again to the town of Mardin.

Further eastwards is the Assyrian dialect, centred on Nineweh and Arbela and the upper Tigris and the Zab rivers. Although this dialect is evidenced from a few secular documents, and appears to have taken a few influences from neighbouring Kurdish.

The dialect of Qtespon has however been influenced by literary Syriac and vice-versa. This dialect of central Mesopotamia has also taken up influence from Persian and Turkic, as well as Arabic. The linguistic changes in the region can be document by the evolution of the dialect spoken by the Jewish community in the area.

The Lower Mesopotamian dialect exhibits significant Persian and to some extent also Arabic influences. Lower Mesopotamia remains home still to a considerable Mandean community.

The Zagros Mountains
The Iranian Plateau can be culture-wise divided into four major regions. Firstly, the Zagros Mountains, forming a natural border between the Iranian Plateau and the Mesopotamian lowlands. These areas had been inhabited by Lurish mountaineers, who are now migrating northwards and southwards along these mountain ranges, a repopulating any deserted valleys. The Lurs are living mostly as shepherds in a clan-based society, rather than being farmers. The Lurs are believed to have descended from Elamites mixed with the Kassites and Gutians. During the 13th century, they have all become Nestorian Christians, at least that is what they say, although a degree of original Zoroastrian-related beliefs can be evident within their religion.

The plains of Maragheh east of Lake Urmia are now the site of the capital of the Ilkhanate. The area is settle by a large number of Turkic peoples, among whom the Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages prevail (2). The area has a steppe environment, and a large number of horses can be raised in the area. The court of the Ilkhan has accepted many Persian customs, such as celebrating the Nowruz and such, however he is still perceived by most of his subjects as being a foreign ruler, who is not the rightful ruler of the land.

The southern coast of the Caspian Sea, known as Tabarestan or Mazandaran, is home to a number of different tribes, which are however strongly united in their zeal for the Zorastrian religion. The area has been a bastion of faith for centuries, and will remain as such long after the Ilkhans will die out. At least this is what the popular attitude is like in this narrow strip squeezed between the Caspian Sea and the Elborz Mountains. To their south lies the Silk Road, home to a number of cities such as Semnan and Ray. While many of these cities lay depopulated, they nevertheless rise to prosperity once more. A separate identity evolves, and a new language called Rajji develops, from the mixture of the Persian, Khorasani, Turkic and Aramaic languages. The divergence of the predominantly Nestorian Silk Road cities from the Zoroastrian hinterlands of southern Persia has already begun under the Seljuks to a large extent, but the two cultures can be described as having substantially diverged only during the 13th century.

Religion in the Ilkhanate. Notice the high religious diversity in the west
The regions of Spahan, Pars, and Kerman are now the heartland of the Zoroastrian Persians. These areas are much more arid, as the green Zagros or the Mazandarani coast, and the Naiman rulers have no real incentive to reach into the area anyway. The hinterland of Hormozgan had become flooded by refugees from the countryside. Ormus has accepted the suzerainty of the Ilkhans and has become the chief port of the Ilkhans, although maintaining a degree of autonomy. With the subjugation of Ormus, the remnants of Qatriye are subdued as well, and all shores of the Persian Gulf are, well under the control of the Ilkhanate.

The fortress of Bam (source:
The Zoroastrians of southern Persia are tired of time and again being subdued by the Steppe Raiders, and have had enough. A movement of resistance is underway, especially in the regions of Yazd and Kerman, operating in secret. This movement of resistance operates in secret, and the Guardians of the Fire are gaining popularity among the Persians. They are not prepared to fight an open rebellion, rather becoming a secretive guerrilla, ambushing a guard here, or killing an important notable there (6).

The inhospitabel Dasht-e-Kevir
The eastern parts of the Iranian Plateau (3) are separated from the west by the Dash-e-Kevir and Dasht-e-Lut Deserts. The eastern half of the Plateau does share a common linguistic family, but is religiously distinct from the west. In the east, apart from a small Christian presence in places like Herat, which is also mostly limited to urban centres and thus also recovering from plundering and sieges, we happen to encounter a mixed Buddhist and Manichean population.

The cities of Khorasan (4) have been especially hard-hit by the invading armies, and have been repopulated by Manichean village-folk. Similarly Segestan and Zabulistan are now bastions of the Manichean faith, while the highlands of the Hindukush Mountains are home to a large number of Buddhists. The people of Segestan and Zabulistan are called Pakhtun (5) and are a proud warrior-people organized into a multitude of clans. Apart from adhering to Manichean doctrine, the Pakhtun have also their own code of honour, called Pakhtunwali. This tribal code of honour dictates much of how the Pakhtun ought to behave, although it has often resulted in vendetta wars, in the thirteenth century again, Segestan and Zabulistan become unruly provinces.

The organization of the Nestorian Church in the Middle East. A new Metropolitan province was set in Konya, another one in Jerusalem and the third one in Maragheh
Before closing this chapter, I would like to spare a few sentences about two monks Rabban Bar Sawma and Rabban Markos. The two were Nestorian monks of Turkic descent originating in northern China, perhaps near the Ordos Desert, and they have travelled the entire length of of the Silk Road. The younger Rabban Markos would become the Catholicos Yahballah III of the Church of the East; the older Rabban bar Sawma would be consecrated as Archbishop of Jerusalem.

  1. Erzincan, Turkey
  2. So perhaps we are having an Azerbaijani language based around Tabriz after all.
  3. Speaking of mainly Afghanistan and Balochistan over here
  4. Northeastern Iran
  5. Pashtun
  6. The Hashashin, anyone


Chapter 102: Petty-Rajas of the Kinari Coast
The Eastern African seaboard had been dotted by a network of cities and city-states, with these gradually developing, with the earliest having been set up by the Himyari and Suqutri in the Horn of Africa as trading emporia. Gradually, however the network of these states along the Azanian coast grows southwards and expands up until the Angoche cape.

The polities of the Kinara Coast. Notice Great Zimbabwe in, well, Zimbabwe, and Rwanda in Rwanda
The earliest colonies established in the area were thus established by South Semitic groups –Himyarites, Mazounis and Suqutris. However, south of the Horn of Africa these cities were out of reach of the realms that had originally founded them. Rather, these colonies had become independent city states, dotting the coastal landscape.

The early Arabian colonists were soon joined by much more numerous merchants arriving from the western coast of India. Sailing between India and the East African Coast was favoured by the ocean currents and prevailing winds: reaching the Azanian coast from India has been directly aided by the trade winds, blowing from a northeastern direction. Thus a solid ship would be driven by the winds directly to the Eastern African Coast; the journey back on the other hand, is going to require to follow the ocean currents in a clockwise direction around Suqutra.

Ruins of a Msadeqi Manichean temple found inthe Kinara Coast
This geographic pattern thus enabled arrival of Indian merchants into the area. Most of them arrive from the region of Kathiawar, also known to some as Gujarat, although a minority of them arrived also from Kerala. The incoming Indians outnumbered the already established Mazouni community in the region, and the region has become known as the Kinara Coast (1)., as such was the name in the tongue of the Kathiawar, from where the majority of the new merchant-colonists arrived.

While the Mazounis had established a truly parallel society on the coasts, mostly restricting their own settlements to the well protected islands such as Zanzibar, Rhapta, Mafia, Kilwa and Lamu, while the mainland was mostly sparsely settled, although covered in plantations, exploting slave labour.

Slaves had become the major commodity that the established islanders bought from the native tribes. For most of the islanders, the hinterland of the continent remained a big unknown, and they had reserved their interactions only to the nearest clans.

The Msadeqi religion has mostly given ground to Hinduism, although pockets of the Mazouni- derived faith remain on the islands.
However, the Indian merchants, throughout the 13th century, have established permanent settlements even on the mainland. The Hindu religion, being a polytheistic system, allows greater religious syncretism and through cultural interactions, the Indian merchants co-opt native chieftains into this religion (2).

The Indian merchants have thus allowed the progression of more advanced culture further into the coastal strip and soon the tribes that used to supply the Mazounis with slaves had themselves become the controller of the slave trade. Slaves were especially demanded by the realms along the Persian Gulf to work at plantations, but some were also shipped to India.

These coastal cities, rivalling one another were daring to explore more of the hinterland. They seem to have raided the east African savannah, the plains of the Serengeti and have dealt with the Maasai tribesmen. How far they have gotten remains unknown. However, they appear to have not expanded much from the narrow coastal strip, although smaller settlements appear to exist a few miles deeper inland along larger rivers.

The dhow is the typical type of vessel being used in Kinara coast.
Thus we have the Kinara Coast, whose rulers seek to emulate the Indian style and title themselves as petty Rajas. And so, we have the raja of Mombasa, the raja of Malindi, the raja of Imhambane the raja of Quellimane and the Raja of Sofala. The island cities retain some sort of republican oligarchic governance, with their head of state being titled as the Dapir (3). What may or may not surprise us, is that the Comoros archipelago at this time is settled as well from Kilwa. And it may not surprise us that much, if the Comorans resort to piracy, but they may establish trade posts on the north of Madagascar, and try conceal this secret, and take the benefit of having the monopoly on the trade with Madagascar.

As can be seen, the coast remains dominated by plutocratic monarchies. The islands have "republic" as their form of government. Most of the hinterland remains tribal
The Kinari language (4) has thus formed in the coastal regions of the Kinara Coast, with a Bantu substrate and many terms from Mazouni, belonging to the South Semitic family, and from Gujarati and from Malay. Perhaps a creole language is the term that can be used to describe the language. The Kinari language starts using a wirtten abugida, based upon the Devanagari script used in Northern India, although slightly adapted to the Kinari phonology. The new writing system is named Barua (6)

Although the demand for slaves is not as large as it may have been thought to be (5), slave trade remains among the top three commodities that are trade along the Kinara Coast. It appears that Hinduism itself does allow the idea of slavery, and the idea of slavery appears to be perfectly compatible with the existing caste system. However, demand in the Subcontinent itself remains relatively low, as India itself is relatively densely populated. The Kinara Coast offers the Subcontinent another resource which is remains valuable in the area: ivory. The Kinara coast offers a relatively cheap supplier.

The Ruins of Great Zimbabwe
From Sofala upstream, arose the Bantu realm of Great Zimbabwe, on the southern banks of the lower Zambezi. Great Zimbabwe came to dominate the gold mines in the region and joins the global trade network and becoming one of the major gold suppliers in the Indian Ocean market.

The remaining hinterlands of Eastern Africa remain populated predominantly by Bantu farmers, although there remain pockets of original pre-Bantu populations, of whom the most famous are the Sandawe. It is very likely that there had existed numerous linguistic families, not related to the Khoi San languages of the Namib-Kalahari regions.

A linguistic map of East Africa. Malgasy speak a language of the Malayic group

As for the Great Lakes region, the area remains isolated from the world trade, although occasional contact with the Kinara Caost does exist, and the people in the area have heard rumours of a lake that is endless in the direction where the sun rises, very few if any of the Buganda or Rwandan people have seen the Indian Ocean; the shores of Lake Tanganyka or Lake Victoria might have been sighted by two or three slave-hunting , or ivory-searching expeditions.​

  1. In OTL, the area was known as the Swahili coast; the word Sahil itself meaning coast in the Arabic language. I can imagine a similar naming pattern among the Gujaratis, who will just label this area as “shore”, in Gujarati Kinara
  2. Similarly as had happened in Southeast Asia
  3. Taking inspiration from Mazoun.
  4. ATL Swahili
  5. Read: as happened in OTL
  6. Meaning Letters according to Google translate to Swahili. Not that creative
Chapter 103: The Horn of Africa: Galla, Waaq and Omo
We are continuing a little further northwards, to the region known as the Horn of Africa. This area, in contrast to that which has been described in the previous update, is much more arid, and the people living here had to meet much more urgent ecological challenges, such as gaining access to water.

Some animals living in the region, like Oryx beisa beisa, have two horns
This was at least true to the Cuchitic-speaking regions of the Shebelle Basin and surrounding regions. In the previous century we have witnessed the unification of many of the clans into the kingdom of Ogaden, while the northern coast had been under control of the Hadhramis (based in Salalah) and Suqutris.

Religion in the Horn of Africa region. The Oriental Orthodox dominate the north and Waaqefanna dominates the east. Between them, dark brown are the regions of unreformed pagan Cushitic beliefs
While the Waaqefanna religion did maintain its influence even in the later periods of the 13th century, the Kingdom of Ogaden as a unified realm ceases to exist, and various successor realms emerge. Among them, Šerafein as an independent city-state emerges, controlling the coastal regions, therefore known as the Lordship of Banaadir (1). Further westwards, we can notice the Boqordom of Rahanwein.(2), with the Boqor being a rough equivalent to a king. Given the unique historical developments of the Somali region, and its distinct religious system mean that these Cushitic titles will remain in use.

Ultimately, at the tip of the peninsula another mighty tribal confederation, the Darod arise. The Darod clans seized control over the area known to many of us as Puntland from Suqutri viceroys, who had no other option but to return as merchants to the coasts around Hafun.

Most of the Cushitic regions are depicted as being nomadic. While being cattle herders, this description tries to emphasize their clan system
Both the lordship of Banaadir and Rahanwein are however dependent on clever and efficient administration of irrigation and water management, thus becoming a hydraulic empire. Being as such, the realm necessarily becomes highly centralized, with little to no regional autonomy. Similar is the fate of Ogaden, which maintains a degree of unity in the inner regions of the Upper Shebele river.

The need to administer the hydraulic system and to prepare for droughts will necessarily result in the need to write down ideas and processes. This had previously been done using the Himyaritic script, however as the need of writing has become more and more urgent in the face of the droughts often experienced in the region, a distinct Somali writing system evolves, descended from the Himyaritic script, but also taking some influence from Geez writing as well.

A map of writing systems: orange is Geez script, blue is Qoraal (the name of the Somali writing system; Qoraal is the Somali word for writing) and yellow is Himyaritic.
The situation of subordinance to Hadhramawt in the north would not however continue in the long run, as the population of the city of Berbera rises in revolt and establishes their own merchant republic (3).This independence does not last long, however, as the area is conquered by the neighbouring Qafar Kingdom.

The Qafar kingdom, previously described as the Harar Kingdom, is one of the major realms existing in east Africa at this point in time. It has shifted its capital to Zeila, which has become a very prosperous and multicultural city, benefiting from its position at the Bab-el-Mandeb, on the valuable trade routes to India. The Qafar kingdom is populated by two major Cushitic peoples: mostly the Qafars(4), also known as the Danakil people inhabit the so-called Qafar Triangle, while the eastern maritime regions around Zeila and Berbera are populated by Warsangali clans of the Somali people.

Manicheism has not completely given place to Christianity within the borders of the Qafar kingdom, although it is in decline. Here, we can see a Manichean temple in the region

In the southern regions of the Ethiopian Highlands, we can spot a handful of emerging entities, out which few can be described as truly civilized. The Ughazdom (or High chiefdom) of Bale is a Galla (5) chiefdom adhering to the Waaqefanna religion. The Galla people are among the more influential peoples of eastern Africa, now adhering to the Waaq The Galla are divided into two major clans, the Borana and the Barentu. The Borana are located in what is known as eastern Kenya, while the Barentu can be localized nar the Ethiopian-Somali-Kenyan tripoint. The Galla remain a clan society, with a level of democracy present amongst them; they have however come under the influence of the Waaqefanna religion born among the Somali (6).

Coffee, named after the Kaffa province of the Kingdom of Damot, is one of the best known products of the Horn of Africa
Further northwards, we may witness the emergence of Sidamo, Hadiya and Gurage high chiefdoms, while in the southwest, we may see the Kingdom of Damot,which has expanded from its home region to the south, to incorporate Kaffa, Welamo and Ennarea. Control over these southern chiefdoms is loose, and is exercised through local chiefs, who pay tribute to the king of Damot.

A linguistic map of the region. Dark green in Cushitic, light green is Omotic, and Ethiopo-Semitic can be seen around Lake Tana
The kingdom of Damot is ethnically very diverse, with the Welayta peoples populating the northern core area, while the southern regions are populated by very diverse populations, such as the Nilotic tribes of Anuak, or various Omotic peoples, like the Kaffa or the Dawaro. In theory, Damot had an archbishop consecrated at Alexandria. In practice, the peoples of the southern part of the Kingdom have at best heard that there was a Christian god.

A political map of the Horn of Africa region. Qafar is depicted in green controlling Djibouti, Habesha is the yellow-green in northern Ethiopia, Medri Bahri is brown in Eritrea. Ultimately, Damot is depicted as red in SW Ethiopia
The Habesha Kingdom itself cannot be considered to be any hegemon in the region. True, it has taken over Shewa, but has lost the coastal regions populated by the Tigray peoples, which is known as the Kingdom of the Medhri Bahri (7). The Horn of Africa is thus home to a large number of fragmented polities, competing with one another, with the four most powerful competitors being Qafar, Damot, Habesha and Medhri Bahri. The Qafar appear to dominate the lowland depression caused by the Great Rift Valley; the Medhri Bahri seek to dominate the northern parts of the Ethiopian Highlands facing the Red Sea, and the Habesha are on their quest to dominate the watershed of the Blue Nile.

The Ethiopian Highlands are culturally very close to the regions of Himyar/Yemen. Without major religious differences, they are in fact considered as belonging to the same cultural region, similarly to as the Tamazgha (8) is considered to belong to the same cultural region as western Europe, united by language, religion and close communication.

Therefore, this update is also going to include the developments of southernmost Arabia. For their part, the merchants of Salalah in Hadhramawt have lost a minor war to Himyar, which pushes the border a little eastwards.

Due to the rise of the Naimans, a large share of the trade has shifted to the Red Sea out of their reach, much to the benefit of Himyar. For the Himyarites, the island of Suqutra has been a minor rival for the trade, but nevertheless, the island had to be subdued. Himyar has also expanded northwards to conquer Asir as well. As mentioned, Himyar is highly dependent on trade, and its coastal cities, such as Aden are home to a large number of Persian, Coptic, and Jewish merchants. The Al-Abna, Himyaritized descendants of Persians since the Sassanid Empire have for the most part assimilated and taken up local Himyaritic customs, but maintained their Manichean religion and continue to live as merchants in the coastal cities, comparable to diasporic communities of Jews, of whom also there exists a considerable community in Himyar.

The canonical jurisdictions of the Oriental Orthodox. Pink is the Coptic Church, yellow is the Himyaritic Church
With the Syriac Jacobite Church in decline, the Himyarites were able to be granted true autocephaly, and the Himyaritic Orthodox Church has been recognized as being an equal member of the Oriental Orthodox family of churches, on equal standing as e.g. the Armenian Church.​

  1. This literally meaning coast
  2. It may be useful to note the Somali honorific and court title
  3. Covering modern Somaliland
  4. Afar people, living in NE Ethiopia, Djibouti and SE parts of Eritrea
  5. The contemporary term for the Oromo is Galla. I know that today it is out of use, and may be considered derogatory, but in a different scenario, it may not be the case.
  6. The Waaqefanna is the Cushitic monotheistic religion, and with “pulling a Muhammad” it is among the serious competitors for religious dominance in eastern Africa. Being part of the Afro-Asiatic group, it is going to bare several similarities with the other Abrahamic religions, but being much more distinct, than islam.
  7. Largely synonymous to an enlarged Eritrea
  8. Maghreb
This is just a request, but could you give a small briefing on Nepal?
Nepal? Well, I believe the butterflies didn't reach this Himalayan area profoundly . It is divided into four larger realms (perhaps a few smaller ones as well).
The only major change is that Nepal is predominantly Buddhist.
I have had trouble finding information on the history of Nepal, so I left it out, mostly
Nepal? Well, I believe the butterflies didn't reach this Himalayan area profoundly . It is divided into four larger realms (perhaps a few smaller ones as well).
The only major change is that Nepal is predominantly Buddhist.
I have had trouble finding information on the history of Nepal, so I left it out, mostly
Thanks. If you need any help on Nepali history, you could always give me a message.
I‘m thinking that the Ilkhanate continue to make raids into both Egypt and the Rhomaic possessions. However before those raids can become invasions, the Ilkhanate ruler suddenly dies without a clear heir via either the Black Death or in battle. As the Ilkhanate disintegrate during the resulting civil war, several previously suppressed ancient ethinic groups take the opportunity to restore their homelands to full sovereignty. The Egyptians and Rhomaics are both suffering from both the Black Death and civil strife and thus are unable to prevent the revival of hostile Levantine states.
How do you think European imperialism will play out in this timeline: With a sizable portion of Africa and Asia in Christian hands, I’m unsure if Europe will have any incentive to expand into these two continents in the 19th and 20th centuries. What’s for sure is that the Americas and Oceania will still be colonized like in OTL. The countries of the Iberian Peninsula will have less incentive to explore, as no Muslim occupation would mean no wealth acquired from the Reconquista, meaning less infrastructure to develop the navy. Most likely they’d expand into North Africa instead. This means other European powers wouldn’t grow jealous of the Iberian monopoly and not be motivated to explore. This could mean the possibility of East Asian colonies in the Americas.
@Mike Louis The Egyptians are going to have to heavily fortify their border on the Sinai with the Ilkhanate threat at the gates
@Blacklister in the 12th century Lusitania (Portugal) has made some naval contact with Takrur in Senegal and have settled the Capverds. While not aiming to cross the Atlantic, they are already proceeding along the West African coast.

As for North America, we have Vinlanders and a few Irish settled in the region; the Miqmaq have adopted most of Viking technology.
Chapter 104: Of Boutros the Builder
The establishment of the Ilkhanate has actually been beneficial to Kemet, as trade from Europe with the Orient has mostly shifted in the direction of Kemet and the Red Sea basin. This has meant also, that Kemet was receiving more income, allowing to build a larger army. The army of Kemet is much more diverse than the realm itself, and an important component of the Kemetic army are Arabs recruited in Hejaz, which remains a tributary state of Kemet, as well as the Nabatean kingdom. These two Arab realms provide substantial reservoirs of excellent cavalry. Another source of formidable desert warriors were the Oobja, known also as the Beja or the Blemmyes, living on the African coast of the Red S. The Beja were a Cushitic people, now fully Christianized and living within the borders of the authority of the King of Kemet.

Beja warriors, equipped with characteristic circular shields, are employed by Kemet as light infantry
After the weakening of the Rhomaic Empire at Kelezene (1), and having lost much of Anatolia, Boutros the Builder, King of Kemet has decided that time has come seize the city of Alexandria, or as it ought to be called, Rakote. For over two centuries, Alexandria had been an autonomous city-state, being tributary of Kemet. The city had been namely home to a large Greek community, known as the Alexandrian Greeks. It had been hinted that should the Copts seek outright annexation of Alexandria, the Rhomaic Empire would step in. Now, with the Rhomaic Empire having to deal with the loss of Anatolia, Boutros the Builder sets on a campaign to end with the independence of this city-state. While the existing alliance with Lebanon was still valid, it appeared the Lebanese would not send their men overseas. This assumption proved to be correct, and as the Kemetic troops besieged Rakote, it was evident that the city founded by the great Macedonian conqueror was left alone. After three weeks of siege, the commander and the mayor offered surrender and Boutros enters the city at the head of his troops.

The city of Rakote, while being a great commercial centre and hub for the trade in Mediterranean is however not chosen as the new capital of Kemet. Amongst the reasons are its predominantly Greek population and Hellenistic roots, as well as its historical development, for the city had been long separated from the rest of Kemet. However, Alexandria becomes the new seat of the Coptic Pope, at least on paper, and the Greek Patriarch is by official royal decree expelled from the city, as there shall be one Patriarch in Alexandria – the Coptic one. A Greek bishop, however is permitted to reside in the city with the title “Bishop of the Greeks in Brucheum and Canopus”, with Brucheum being the name of the old Hellenistic neighbourhood of Alexandria, while Canopus was a Greek town found a few miles east of Alexandria itself.

The royal court of Kemet move however to the eastern edge of the Delta, to the city of Tamiat (2), located an analogous position to Alexandria – also located at the estuary of the Nile river, but on the eastern end of the Delta, much closer to the trade route crossing the Sinai to the Red Sea. This choice emphasizes the importance of the Spice Road linking the Mediterranean and Red Sea basins.

The Sinai Peninsula is largely a desert landscape
However, with the fall of Jerusalem to the Ilkhanate, Kemet has lost a precious buffer state and faces the Ilkhanate alone. While an alliance with Jerusalem had been contemplated, the king dismissed it out of ideological reasons. After all, the Kingdom of Jerusalem was established in the wars of the Holy Sepulchre as a fiercely Chalcedonian state. However, with the Ilkhanate controlling the Levant as far south as Gaza, Kemet feels threatened and rightfully so. The sole barrier between the Levant and the Nile Valley is the Sinai Peninsula – a wedge-shaped piece of arid desert, the inhospitality of which may be Kemet´s only shield to the invasions of the Naimans? Or perhaps not. Boutros the Builder, named so for his seizure of Rakote, is not going to leave anything to chance. The entire peninsula is garrisoned by the best and toughest of Arab skirmishers, prepared to ambush any attacking force out of nowhere and then perishing in the desert again. They are prepared to cut down any supply lines of the enemy, in order to make attrition in the Sinai as large as it possibly can become.

Even after marching across the desert, an invading army is going to have to face a major obstacle – the 130 km long stretch between the Mediterranean and the Red Seat at its narrowest is going to be defended by a massive wall, comparable to that of Hadrian running across Britain, to keep all invaders coming from Asia at bay.

The construction of this ambitious project is to begin at the Mediterranean shore and finish at the town of Suez. Labour shall be provided by slaves bought at Aden from merchants selling them from the Kinari Coast.

A political map of Kemet and its neighbours
To the south of Kemet lie the two Nubian kingdoms – Makuria and Alodia. In the mid-thirteenth century, Makuria and Alodia are united under the crown of the latter. The royal line in Makuria has failed to produce a male heir, and the dynastic union, enabling the two culturally very close realms face common threats is heavy. Makuria had been facing prolonged periods of drought, while Alodia had been dealing with the threat coming from the Shilluk. The combined armies of Makuria and Alodia manage to defeat the Shilluk and retake the area that had been previously part of Alodia. The Shilluk themselves had been joined by other Nilotic groups coming from the marshes in the south, chiefly the Nuer and the Berta. Their continued raids have devastated much of Alodia´ s southern borderlands, but ultimately they have been thrown back into the marshy swamp.

Religion in the Nile Basin
Regarding the western region of Darfur, the interactions with the Nile Valley are now more intensive as they had been, and the region shows a gradual conversion to Christianity, and the new religion is making further inroads into the society, as more warriors and village chieftains become baptized.

This brings us back to the Coptic Orthodox Church, the dominating jurisdiction among the Miaphysite communion. Originally, the Miaphysite family of churches had split from the Chalcedonian communion following a dispute over Christological questions. In the meantime, it had established a parallel church organization in the Afro-Asiatic provinces of the Rhomaic Empire – Egypt and Syria. Their faith later spread to their immediate neighbours: Armenians and Arabs by the Syrians and Nubians by the Copts. By the thirteenth century, the Syriac Orthodox are substantially weakened, and the Armenian and Himyarite Churches are the most serious competitors.

Previously, Axum was on a good road in achieving autocephaly, being the dominant power in the Horn of Africa region. By the year 1300, Ethiopia was one among many competitors for dominance in the region. One may object, that nominating capable bishops in a territory spanning from Berbera on the Red Sea to Tajuwa in the Darfur to the Nile Delta from one centre may not be the most efficient way. But that was not the goal. It was more a way of extending Kemetic influence further into much of north-eastern Africa. The previously stressed principle of establishing national churches was now reduced to theory, and the Coptic Church now exerts canonical control over the Nile Basin​

A map of the jurisdictions of the Coptic Church
  1. Erzincan
  2. Damietta


Chapter 105: Kemetic Culture and Society in the High Middle Age
The society of Kemet in the later medieval period has not yet been described. Given the unique historical background and influences, the culture of Kemet is be substantially distinct from the culture of the other Mediterranean countries. The reason for this is that Egypt had managed to maintain its distinctive culture even during the periods of Persian, Greek and Roman rule. Given the geographic setting of Egypt, where the country is surrounded by desert on the west and in the east as well, cultural diffusion may occur primarily on the north-south axis, to a certain degree cultural interaction with the Levant has been also present throughout history.

Kemet has not taken in major influences from the south; rather the Nubian kingdoms , be they called Meroe, Kush, or Nobatia, Alodia and Makuria, have always inspired themselves by the example they witnessed in Egypt and sought to imitate the cultural development there. Therefore, medieval Kemet is not influenced as much from the south as from the north and east.

A Coptic church. Religion has always played an important role in the culture of Egypt
The major influences shaping Coptic culture are thus going to be predominantly the legacy of the ancient Egyptians (felt more intensively as one travels upstream) and Greco-Roman influence, felt most extensively in the western part of the Nile Delta. The Greek influence in Egypt can be dated even before the conquests of Alexander the Great, when Neukratis used to be the main centre of Greek culture in Egypt. However since the founding of Alexandria, that city had been a profoundly Greek city, in an Egyptian country. Hellenistic influence in Egypt had grown strong namely during the Ptolemaic dynasty, and was continued also in the Roman and Rhomaic eras. One of the lasting legacies of the Greek influence in Egypt is the shape of Coptic letters. In fact, the Coptic alphabet is practically the same as the Greek one, with a few unique letters, for some of the sounds in the Coptic language are not present in the Greek one.

Ultimately, the third vector influencing Egypt goes across the Sinai Peninsula. In the past, it has brought the Hyksos, the Hebrews, the Persians and most recently, the Arabs into the land. Semitic influences in Egypt are still felt, and the Arabic language has had some influence on the Coptic language as well. Again, the Arabic influence is most profoundly expressed in the eastern Delta regions, but also in Phiom (Fayyum).

To sum it up, Egyptian culture and society is shaped by three major cultural influences – Ancient Egyptian, Greek (Mediterranean) and Arabic (Semitic). The intensity of these influences thus varies geographically and thus the composition of the society is going to be different.

Most of Kemet´s population were farmers
Most of Kemet´s population is restricted to the relatively narrow Nile Valley, where most of them continue to work in agriculture. Given the fact that Kemet is an independent country run by an efficient bureaucracy, the management of irrigation is done at a professional level and does not result in any major problems, leading to no severe depopulation. The population of the Nile Valley in the late 13th century may be estimated at around 6 million people (1). High yields meant that Kemet was able to sustain not only a large population, but was also one of the prominent exporters of grain in both the Mediterranean and the Red Sea basins.

Most of the population of Kemet remains rural, and the Delta and the Nile Valley both remain dotted with over 2000 villages. However, the High Medieval period sees and increased rate of urbanization. Kemet´s population had been more urbanized only during the Ptolemaic and Roman periods. Kashromi, with around 60 000 people, located near the bifurcation of the Nile, is the largest city in the country, surpassing Alexandria with 35 000 people. The third city of the kingdom is the newly declared capital of Tamiat with 30 000 people. Other important cities are Phiom (2) and Siout (3). Lower Egypt also hosts a number of larger towns, although they cannot compete with the three metropolises at the corners of the triangle-shaped Delta.

In the rural areas of Upper Egypt, where the rate of urbanization is considerably smaller, the largest authority and owner of land is the Church. Working hand-in-hand with the bureaucratic apparatus, the Church is the single most powerful institution in Upper Egypt, and most of the peasants are paying rents and tithes to the Church, which are also used to sustain monastic life. Monasticism has a long tradition in Upper Egypt, and it has been mainly the monasteries, that had been the source of intellectual and philosophical development in Kemet. Said in short, the monasteries are also supplementing the role of universities in Kemet.

Most of Upper Egypt is held by the Church. However considerable areas of Lower Egypt are held by the landed nobility
The Coptic Church is however no longer the prominent land-owner in Lower Egypt. Considerable stretches of land have been granted to maintain the mercenary regiments, while large areas around Phiom and in the eastern Nile Delta were held by the descendants of the original clans of the Arab conquerors of Egypt. Thus, these areas can very well be described as having a feudal administration. However, the larger part of the Delta remains administered directly by the bureaucratic apparatus of Kemet.

As for the cities of Egypt, each of the three major cities of the Delta has its own distinct atmosphere and culture. Alexandria/Rakote is known to be multicultural metropolis, dominated by Greeks but home to a considerable Jewish community, as well as Latin merchants. Copts are present in the city as well, but are no more than a third of the city´s population. The city has a multicultural and mercantile atmosphere, and is known for its philosophy and history.

The pyramids of Giza are an iconic landmark
Kashromi has been until now the capital of Kemet, and while having large bazaars as well, it was regarded mainly as the seat of power. The pyramids of Giza could be seen on the horizon as a legacy of the country´s ancient glory, and the great palaces and garden, great architectural projects conducted by the heirs of Yaraklas were a testimony to their power in the present. Kashromi is known to be a city of bureaucrats and home to the largest barracks in country, embodying the power of Kemet, and the heart of the entire hierocratic system. Kashromi can also be described as a multicultural city – but in a much different way than Alexandria – the soldiers in the barracks are Armenians, Berbers, Nubians, Beja, Arabs and Copts. The city is also home to a Jewish and Armenian community.

Thirdly we have the city of Tamiat. Tamiat is located in the eastern part of the Nile Delta, and has a different spirit. Being the new royal capital, Tamiat seeks to become the dynamic gate to Egypt, and to represent a departure from the despotic hierocratic system. The bureaucratic apparatus had become colossus that when put at work had become difficult to manage, and rather often has the bureaucracy and the Church, two institutions ruling the country since the times of the Arabs, worked hand in hand. The Kings have found it difficult to stop one or the other, and have reached out to the landed military aristocracy, plantation owners and the cities to face these two institutional forces. It is largely symbolic that Tamiat is no longer the seat of the Coptic Pope; thus enabling a first hint for the division of church and state, a concept largely unknown to Egypt. Tamiat is thus the home of wealthy merchants, having acquired their status in the Spice Trade with India and South Arabia, as well as many palaces of the important noble families. In Tamiat, Arabic is heard often, as many of the commanders of the tribes stationed on the Sinai visit the city for vacation, spending time in magnificent villas. Tamiat is the new centre of native Coptic merchants, who are ready to take a more active role in running the state.

The dialects of Coptic
As for the Coptic language itself, it has diverged into numerous dialects. The literary form of Coptic, prevalent in most of the Delta is Bohairic, which has become the standard literary version of the language. Rakotic, a dialect spoken around Alexandria, is characterized by heavy Greek influence, with some Aramaic influences from the local Jewish community as well. In the east of the Delta, the Coptic language has come under significant influence of the Arabic language, and the heavily Arabized form is known as Mishri. Tamiettic has become its own dialect in the new capital. Menfi and Phiomic as well are significantly influenced to a significant extent by Arabic. The dialects of Upper Egypt – Pemdjeic, Sioutic, Khmimic and Nobatic are more conservative, with Pemdjeic exhibiting limited Greek influence, while Nobatic has a significant Nubian influence, which can be seen in Khmimic on a very limited scale as well. In general, the dialects of Coptic can be grouped into three major groups in the High Medieval Period: Western Delta – to include Rakotian and Bohairic, Broader Mishric to include Tamiettic, Mishri, Menfi and Phiomi and Upper Egyptian including Pemdjeic, Sioutic and Khmimic, sometimes described collectively as Sahidic.

  1. Historically, there were 4 million people in the 12th century
  2. Faiyoum
  3. Asyut