Empire of a Hundred Millennia: a Congo River Civilization TL

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by DStecks, Apr 15, 2013.

  1. DStecks Writes the songs

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    Prologue: For Want of a Worm

    Great Rift Valley, 3.2 Million Years Ago (OTL chronology):

    A tiny insect buzzes about the head of the large Australopithecus female. She swats at it as it tries to land on her, but even though the insect seems slow, she just can’t quite hit it. Little does she know, this small creature is the last of its kind.

    Around 30 years earlier, about a lifetime to the female but untold generations to the insect, a small, seemingly insignificant change occurred. Not to either the insect or the female, but to a protist, a microscopic worm-looking creature inside the ancestors of the insect. The creature is a parasite that lives inside the insect’s stomach, using it as a means of transportation. Once the creature reaches its destination, it begins to infect the new host, an attack which is frequently lethal. In our timeline, this protist will come to be known as Malaria, and by the speculation of some scientists, it will cause half of all human death throughout history. In this timeline, the African population of it has mutated, and is no longer harmless to its mosquito host. 30 years ago, the African mosquito population teemed into uncountable trillions. Now, it has been reduced to one.

    The tiny insect lands on the small of the female’s back, a place where she cannot reach. It sticks its long proboscis into her skin, and extracts a meal of blood; leaving behind a payload of microscopic worms. Sated, it takes off from her. The female spins around, and seeing the bloated bug, slaps it between her hands, squishing it. In our timeline, one day her bones will be dug up by scientists and named Lucy, and be called the missing link between apes and men, but in this timeline, she will be the last hominid to ever die of malaria.



    Congo, 100,000 Years Ago (OTL chronology):

    King Lu!Batay sailed down the mighty mother-river in his royal barge. The sweet smells of his kingdom’s orchards wafted through the air, signaling that the harvest time was near. A most glorious time to return from war, the king thought, and surely a sign of the stars’ blessing. His armies had triumphed over the armies of the eastern lands, and conquered the Otta-wo-Luku (Land of Lakes). It would make a fine addition to his empire.

    As the barge neared the royal capitol, the king could begin to see his palace, a great pyramid, rising above the city below. If his census-takers were correct, his city was the very first in all of the world to hold a million people. A million, the king thought. Were every man, woman and child of the city a soldier, he could conquer the entire world.

    The farms and orchards of his kingdom reaped a rich harvest, though far less than that of the rumored Nile kingdom to the north. The king had dismissed those reports as mere legend, that no land could ever be as bountiful as the Nile Delta had purported to be. Still, a million is a lot of mouths to feed. While gold and other such goods could be, and were, imported from the northwestern Desert kingdoms, food spoiled too easily for extensive shipping.

    From his boat, the king could see peasants carrying sacks of food, their ration for the week. He prayed to the stars that the spring’s harvest would be bountiful, for the sake of his people. Perhaps, he thought, the rumors of the Nile may be worth investigating, lest the empire of a thousand years perish for want of an onion.

    Empire of a Hundred Millennia:
    an Alternate Rise of Civilization

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    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
  2. casval A shy stalker around the forum

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    Ice age civilizations? Or in the middle of those ice ages? Isn't Africa far more habitable before with its green sahara and more lakes and bodies of water, or larger versions compared to otl around? This can make alot more carrying capacity for Africa.

    This is a cool tl, I don't care if it quashes millions of years worth of evolutionary butterflies because this is quite an original idea
     
  3. MrHaakwood Well-Known Member

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    Nice POD! Keep going! The butterflies will be imense! :)
     
  4. Basileus Giorgios Augustus and Autocrat

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    I think a colder, drier climate of a glaciation phase means a larger Sahara, and smaller areas of tropical rainforest. Certainly, the trend for these ancient civilisations will be a colder and drier world, with a much more limited agricultural potential than IOTL. The map which I attach below could be quite helpful for these purposes.

    [​IMG]
     
  5. DStecks Writes the songs

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    It's an ice age, but early into one, so the effects might not be quite as strong yet as they will become.

    As for evolutionary butterflies, I made the call to ignore all butterflies between the POD and the beginning of ITTL civilization (about 500 or so years before Batu). The reason for this is that it would almost certainly have massive implications for hominid evolution, but covering those changes would distract from the point of the TL, which is that the Congo River is now the cradle of civilization.

    Yeah. All of OTL human history, language and culture is obviously butterflied away by this.

    Thanks a ton for that pic, very interesting. While my TL actually takes place a good 80-90 thousand years before the Last Glacial Maximum, that map should still come in handy, since I imagine conditions would be similar.

    It doesn't even mess with my ideas too much, since the concept for the central conflict at the start is that a world without malaria has a slashed mortality rate, but Africa's agricultural potential hasn't increased to compensate.
     
  6. DStecks Writes the songs

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    Update soon. Revised some of the names in the first post to conform to proper First Dynasty Oosong grammar, which will be covered in a later update.
     
  7. Soverihn Kanye 2020

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    Holy shit! A no malaria TL! Instant subscription :cool:
     
  8. SlyDessertFox Literally Natalie Portman

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    Looks great so far. I'll be following with interest. I can't really lend any help as I know absolutely nothing about this stuff lol.
     
  9. DStecks Writes the songs

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    A History of the World So Far

    A History of the World So Far

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    The first large agricultural communities arose approximately 101 000 BC (OTL chronology) on the Kongo river.

    When humans spread west from what we call Ethiopia, they brought with them a cereal grain called Teff. Humans had discovered that they could spread teff seeds to grow the plant, but simply couldn’t cultivate enough of the plant to feed a community, and it mostly saw use as an emergency food source. One of the biggest issues was a lack of water; the Great Rift Valley was simply too dry for a concept of widespread agriculture to develop. Some humans followed the Nile River north, but as many humans spread southwest into the jungle, they found far wetter climates.

    The beginning of widespread agriculture was in the clearing of shoreline for shelter. In the jungle, large predators could quickly sneak up on their prey. Hunter-gatherer tribes found a solution in clearing small sections along the river for their camp, forcing predators to cross open ground, eliminating the element of surprise. The tribes began to find that the teff took well to the wetter soil, and soon it became a permanent food source. The shores, which once provided habitats for malaria-carrying mosquitoes, now provided fresh water to the humans, for both sustenance and agriculture. The rise of civilizations had begun.

    As the permanent settlements grew, the first governments began to form. Most were what we might call elective monarchies: a single individual would be chosen by the community to lead them indefinitely, until either their death, or their deposition. Some groups allowed women to vote, some only men. Different groups had various requirements for eligibility to vote, though few enforced hard requirements for eligibility to lead, generally resting on the discretion of the group. Frequently, the leader would be the largest male, or the oldest, or the smartest. Infrequently a female could be chosen, if she was a widely-respected elder, or occasionally the widow of a popular leader.

    Many communities grew too large for every member to vote, and new solutions had to be found. Many groups simply became hereditary monarchies, where the eldest child of the leader inherited the position. Some groups attempted to continue the electoral process, having an elective council of widely-respected individuals vote for a ruler, but most of these too gradually became hereditary monarchies, with the families of the councilors intermarrying and becoming a dynasty. Within 300 years of the birth of civilization, almost all cultures were monarchies.

    As settlements became cities, they began to expand their influence into the territory of neighboring cities. Territory disputes became wars, and wars led to empires. The first states were born. 500 years after the birth of civilization, all the settlements on the Kongo river were united under one banner: King Pau!Lu the First of Paubagash. The First Dynasty period of the River Kingdom had begun.

    [Note: this entry originally stated that the grain grown by humanity was wheat. This has been changed for accuracy. I have provided this notice because later in the thread the plausibility of domesticable wheat in Ethiopia was discussed and rejected; so you are not confused if you are reading this thread for the first time.]
     
    Last edited: Apr 18, 2013
  10. DStecks Writes the songs

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    A Basic Primer on the Society of the Kongo River Peoples (the Oosong)

    A Basic Primer on the Society of the Kongo River Peoples (the Oosong)

    The various settlements along the Kongo all belong to a single ethnic/linguistic group, who call themselves the Oosong, which in archaic precursor tongue to their language means “the river people”. They were the hunter-gatherer communities that first migrated into the jungle, and were the first to discover the agricultural potential of the area.

    The largest Oosong settlement is the city of Paubagash, the seat of the River Kingdom. The city was settled by the Pau clan, and they have become the royal family. The city lies at the final large convergence in the Kongo River, where the four major tributaries become one. This convergence made Paubagash into the crossroads of the Oosong, where all the various trade goods of the region could be bought and sold. It thrives on travelers heading to the coast, as no matter where along the Kongo you were, your boat had to pass Paubagash to get to the coast. This led to the creation of the first inns, which allowed travelers to drink the first beer ever brewed by humanity. Inns became community hotspots, serving as places to meet, eat, and drink. They also became the epicenter of prostitution in Oosong society, as well as places where criminals could meet covertly. All of these things led to inns helping to create an urban culture, distinct from the rural regions.

    In Oosong society, the family name comes before the given name. Brides append their husband’s family name to their own, so the wife of Pau!Lu was named Pau!Fayul!Usha. The children take only the family name of their father. The only exception to this is men who marry a daughter of the king. While they do not take the Pau name, they replace their own family name with the given name of the king. Thus, the king at the time of the conquest of Otta-wo-Luku is Lu!Batay, the son in law of Pau!Lu IV.

    The Oosong language is obviously too complex a subject to discuss fully here, so a brief overview and some of the language’s quirks will be discussed. Oosong uses a SVO sentence order, like most modern languages. It employs a wide variety of phonemes, however the ‘th’ and ‘ch’ sounds are absent entirely from it. It employs vocal clicks, here transcribed as ‘!’.

    One of the remarkable features of the Oosong language is that it lacks adjectives entirely: the sound ‘!’ is used as a modifier. It is important to note that ‘!’ is not a proper word in Oosong, but a signal that the word before the sound modifies the word following. In this way, all Oosong words can be used as adjectives. For example, there is no Oosong word for “fast”; instead, an Oosong speaker would append the word for ‘speed’. To demonstrate with English words, an Oosong speaker would call a fast runner a speed!runner. To make the modification negative, the prefix ‘no’ is attached to the front of the modifier word. Using words which already start with the syllable ‘no’ as a modifier is a source of great comedy to the Oosong.

    Religion among the Oosong during the First Dynasty period varies. The rural areas have yet to develop any kind of organized religion, and pantheistic, shamanistic beliefs dominate. In the cities, religion is dominated by a pan/polytheistic tradition that reveres the stars as deities. They believe in supernatural creatures called Zess, which are a rough cultural analogue to Abrahamic angels. They believe that the Zess are messengers of the gods, and agents of their will on Earth. In the millennia to come, these will be interpreted by more imaginative historians as ancient visits by extraterrestrials.

    While the stars are considered deities, they are not worshipped so much as venerated. Religious buildings would be more correctly described as shrines than as temples, and their upkeep is almost exclusively the domain of women. Some stars are believed to govern natural forces; some are believed to embody particular virtues. This obsession with the stars will give Oosong sailors a distinct advantage in navigation in the coming centuries.

    In conclusion, the Oosong are a diverse people. They range from the poorest dirt farmer to the richest Pau clan noble. They carry their traditions while still looking to the future, as they continue the grand experiment they call the River Kingdom. They are the Oosong, and they are the very first civilization.
     
  11. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

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    Just noting, your pod doesnt work.

    1) there are multiple species of malaria that infect humans, so eliminating one doesnt help.
    2) if you did somehow eliminate all species of human malaria, chimp malarias would jump species.
    3) even if somehow humans managed to become immune to all forms of malaria, which unlikely, theres still a whole host of other tropical diseases like yellow fever.

    (Also. 'Worm'!? Plasmmodium is a single celled protozoa, and nothing like a worm, by any stretch of the imagination.)
     
  12. Cuāuhtemōc Twitter fiend

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    Very nice. You got yourself a reader here. :)
     
  13. DStecks Writes the songs

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    Worm was a poetic description of what malaria resembles under a microscope.

    As for the possibility of the POD, well, suspension of disbelief is all I can say. Removing malaria is basically ASB, but it's the premise.
     
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2013
  14. Zeldar155 Humanity First Banned

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    This is very interesting.
     
  15. DStecks Writes the songs

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    The Rise of Civilizations

    The Rise of Civilizations


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    The River Kingdom would not remain the only civilization for long. Soon, Oosong agricultural techniques began to spread to other areas along equatorial Africa. While many places made efforts at agriculture, proper civilization only took hold immediately in areas around other rivers, where there was plentiful access to fresh water.

    The Otta-wo-Luku (Oosong for Land of Lakes) was the first area outside the Kongo watershed to develop civilization, if only because it barely qualifies as being outside. The area’s large Oosong population kept contact with the peoples of the Kongo, and this led to agricultural techniques developed for the river being successfully adapted to a lakeshore society. King Lu!Batay I successfully annexed most of the Otta-wo-Luku early in his reign to secure more food for his burgeoning populace, but two independent areas remain: The Southern Otta-wo-Luku, which largely consists of non-Oosong ethic groups; and the area around what we know as Lake Victoria, home to the Nyanza Peoples. While they have adopted the Oosong agricultural methods, a linguistic barrier makes annexing the Nyanza more trouble than it would be worth.

    The Niger River Civilization was the next to develop, though it took considerably more time than the Otta-wo-Luku. This was largely due to the mountains and untamed jungle between the Niger and Kongo watersheds making travel difficult, and it was only with the advent of boats that travel between the two places became easy. The Niger River Civilization is the fastest growing in the equatorial band, due to its vast supply of easy-to-mine gold. This, and the fact that the Civilization encompasses a number of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups, has made the region very wealthy but very unstable. Warrior kings assuming power by ousting their predecessor is the norm, and most areas of the region are controlled by independent warlords who swear no loyalty to the king.

    The Tchadda River Civilization was next, since the river itself joins with the Niger before it empties into the ocean. It is a smaller, less well-off society, since the land is simply not good enough to support a large economy; and only a couple of true cities have developed along the Tchadda. While it is culturally very similar to groups in the Niger River Civilization, few warlords consider the TRC worth dealing with.

    The Volta River Civilization was next. It is an island of stability surrounded by the chaos of the Niger River Civilization. While it also has gold supplies, they are mined in lower numbers due to the youth of the area’s civilization.

    The Gambia River Civilization was next. It is a dry area on the southern edge of the Sahara, and like the Tchadda River Civilization, suffers from less than ideal growing conditions, keeping its population low.

    The Nile River Civilization began to develop at the extreme north end of the river, in the Nile Delta; at around the same time that the Niger River began to civilize. Utterly unrelated to other cultures, these were the descendents of humans who migrated north. They have much lighter skin than the people of the equatorial civilizations, and completely alien languages. They have little to no contact with the equatorial civilizations, except for what little trade flows through the lands to the south.

    Nubia is what we would call the small civilization that rose around the southern Nile, between the civilization to the north, and the Otta-wo-Luku to the south. The smallest true civilization by population, most of the Nubian peoples still live nomadic lifestyles.

    The Shasong Peoples have a small quasi-civilization between the Niger River Civilization and the Oosong Kingdom. While they speak the Oosong language, they are a distinct ethnic group, and lack of major rivers in the area has inhibited agricultural growth. The civilization is largely a byproduct of the land trade routes between Niger and the Oosong, and only one true Shasong city exists.
     
  16. Stuyvesant C H A N G E

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    It's like that Civilization IV map, Ice Age earth.
     
  17. DStecks Writes the songs

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    It's occured to me that there's going to be some place name weirdness here, so I'm trying to find a good compromise.

    The issue is that bumping civilization back in time 95000 years totally bulldozes all linguistics, so place names will be completely different. However, I do want to preserve some place names, for the sake of not confusing the reader, and also because I lack confidence in my own ability to come up with non-stupid sounding place names. For some places, for example the Gambia or Zambezi rivers, you could argue that they had those names since time immemorial, and nobody could prove you wrong. However, the Niger river's name is a Berber loanword, and that word itself is a loanword from Latin. The problem is that Niger is the native name of the river, or at least the oldest one known, and it cannot predate Rome. So the people ITTL calling it the Niger makes about as much sense as them naming the planets Mars and Venus.

    So, because there is no solution to this problem that has no drawbacks (preserving all OTL names is stupid, making up all new ones is too much to remember, will make the reader's eyes glaze over), I'm going to just pick a strategy and go with it. ITTL, all rivers maintain their OTL names, impossible as this may be. Deserts will also maintain their OTL names. Everything named after a feature with an OTL name will maintain its name, unless an original name is more appropriate (for example, the Niger River Civilization will not be named Nigeria because that's distractingly convergent). Beyond this, everything else will have original names, unless I decide that an OTL name is too good to replace.

    Any thoughts?
     
  18. Hnau free radical

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    I'm guessing you're a proponent of the Continuity hypothesis of behavioral modernity? Because if you instead follow the Great Leap Forward theory, humans wouldn't have been socio-biologically capable to form a civilization around 100,000 BCE.
     
  19. Caesar Well-Known Member

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    Very interesting.
     
  20. Dustin Save us Tammy Baldwin

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    I'm really liking this. Subscribed!