Imperium Universalis (Roman TL)

Amazing chapter!

Love to see Cicero is still around helping with the fixin' of Rome, even if begrudgingly

Just a small tip - Pax Augusta would be more accurate to the Latin here
Map: Middle Earth in 723 AUC (31 BC)


Gone Fishin'
Map of Middle Earth in 723 AUC (31 BC)
In the Year of 723 since the Founding of Rome
In the Year of 31 Before the Lord
In the Year 675 of the 10th Millennium of the Human Era
In the Year 293 of the 32th Dynasty of Egypt
In the Year 2 of the 187th Olympiad
In the Year 514 of Buddha
In the Year 3070 of the Kali Yuga cycle
In the Year of 171 of the Han dynasty

In our world Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus emerged victorious over Marcus Antonius in the renowned Battle of Actium, solidifying his power in Rome and assuming the title of Emperor Augustus. However, in an alternative reality set in Middle Earth during the same year, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus tragically passed away shortly after completing his crowning achievement - the codification of Roman Law. The mantle of leadership fell upon his nephew and adopted son, Gaius Julius Caesar Octavianus, who ascended to the position of Princeps. He and his half-brother, Caesarion, also known as Gaius Julius Caesar Aegyptus, entered into an agreement to divide the Roman republic between them, honoring the wishes expressed in their father's will. This division of power between Octavianus and Aegyptus represented a significant departure from the traditional Roman political structure.

During this critical period in Western Middle Earth, Octavianus faced the formidable challenge of maintaining stability and upholding the legacy left by his late uncle and adoptive father, Augustus. The completion of the codification of Roman Law, a significant accomplishment under Augustus' guidance, stood as a cornerstone of this legacy. However, not everyone embraced the direction established by Augustus, and dissenters emerged who viewed Octavianus' rise to power and the division of the Roman republic to a non-Roman despot as a deviation from the established order. In the face of resistance and a potential disruption of the established status quo, Octavianus found himself contending with adversaries who sought to challenge the new regime. Some individuals aligned themselves with an old enemy of Octavianus' adoptive father, fueling the conflict and posing a threat to the peace that Augustus had worked hard to establish. Amid these challenges, Octavianus held a clear ambition to safeguard the interests of the republic and secure its frontiers, Octavianus embraced a strategic vision of expanding his vast domain and establishing a firm presence against the Germanic tribes. Recognizing the potential threats posed by these tribes, he understood the necessity of extending Roman control into Germania, even if it entailed military conquest. In addition to his aspirations in Germania, Octavianus also turned his attention to Africa and the rebuilt city of Carthage. He envisioned transforming Africa into a prosperous and self-sustaining province, distinct from the politically complex and influential domain of Egypt. Africa's fertile lands, abundant resources, and strategic location made it an appealing prospect for Octavianus, who sought to tap into its economic potential and promote its development as a thriving province within the Roman Empire.

In Egypt, Octavianus' adopted half-brother Aegyptus held the prestigious title of the High King, ruling over all kingdoms, republics, and other realms situated east of the Euphrates, but he remained subordinated to Octavianus, recognizing his authority as the ultimate power in the Roman Republic. However Aegyptus faced the challenge of proving himself worthy of the legacy left by their late father, Augustus. Aegyptus embarked on a delicate balancing act of upholding the ideals and achievements of Caesar to gain the respect and support of the Roman people as well as solidifying his own position of authority within the realm he oversaw. Alongside his responsibility and obligations to Rome, Aegyptus nurtured his own ambitions for Egypt. He envisioned transforming the ancient kingdom of sand and river into a power that could rival Rome. He sought to strengthen Egypt's economy, infrastructure, and military capabilities, establishing it as a formidable force in Asia. Beyond his ambitions for Egypt, Agyptus turned his gaze towards the mighty empire of Parthia. Inspired by the achievement of his ancestor Ptolemy I, general and half-brother of the legendary Alexander the Great. Aegyptus aspired to surpass even his illustrious forebear and envisioned grand conquest of Asia and perhaps beyond the known world as well.

On the other side of Asia, a significant migration of nomadic tribes occurred as a result of the conflicts between the Xiongnu and the Han Dynasty. These tribes, seeking refuge from the turbulent wars, found themselves in the midst of the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, which had once flourished in the area. One notable group among them was the Yuezhi people, who had fought alongside the renowned Han Emperor Wu against the Xiongnu. However, one faction of the Yuezhi decided to take a different path, moving eastward and settling in Bactria, where they coexisted with the Greek urban dwellers. During this time, a Greco-Scythian king named Sapadize emerged and established the Kingdom of Kushan. This kingdom was formed through a delicate alliance between his nomadic tribe and the Greek urban dwellers in the region. The Kushan Kingdom represented a fusion of cultures, where the nomadic traditions of the tribes blended with the Hellenistic influences inherited from the Greco-Bactrian Kingdom. The grandson of Sapadize, Kuljula Khadphises, would later ascend to the throne as the first emperor of the Kushan Empire.

India had entered its Middle Kingdoms period following the decline of the Maurya Empire as the political landscape underwent significant changes. In the northwestern part of India, various invading powers held dominance. Initially, the Indo-Greeks established their rule bringing with them Hellenistic influence, and they were now replaced by the Indo-Scythians. Both invading powers embraced Buddhism which continued to thrive under their patronage. In the central and northeastern parts of India, the Shunga Empire emerged as a prominent power together with other successor kingdoms, creating a fragmented political landscape. The Shunga Empire ruled over the core of the former Maurya Empire and their reign saw a revival of Hinduism and a decline in Buddhist influence. To the south of India, the Satavahana Empire emerged as the dominant power. They hailing from the Deccan region, established their rule over significant parts of South India,. They enjoyed a period of economic prosperity and engaged in maritime trade, establishing trade links with foreign powers across the Indian Ocean. The Satavahanas were patrons of Buddhism, as well as other religions, and their empire marked the rise of the Dravidian kingdoms in the political landscape of India.

At the time of Augustus' passing, the Han dynasty had long passed its golden age under Emperor Wu but still remained a stable and prosperous empire. Emperor Kang, the youngest son of Emperor Yuan, had recently ascended to the throne after a complex power struggle within the imperial court. Initially, Emperor Yuan's oldest son Cheng was the designated crown prince, but tensions arose between his Imperial consorts, Feng and Fu, as they vied for influence and the opportunity to secure the throne for their respective sons. A significant incident occurred a few years prior, involving a wild bear, which tragically resulted in the death of Imperial Consort Feng, who was Cheng's mother. She valiantly sacrificed herself to save Emperor Yuan, leaving Cheng at a disadvantage. Taking advantage of the situation, Imperial Consort Fu skillfully maneuvered to sideline Cheng and promote her own son, Kang, ultimately persuading Emperor Yuan to appoint Kang as the crown prince. Emperor Kang, known for his intelligence and diligence, stood in stark contrast to his half-brother Cheng, who was notorious for his indulgences in drinking, cockfighting, and womanizing. As the new emperor, Kang faced the daunting task of proving himself worthy of the throne and demonstrating his capability to govern effectively. Time would reveal whether Emperor Kang's intellectual prowess and commitment to his responsibilities would make him a superior ruler compared to his half-brother Cheng. The court and the people of the Han dynasty watched with anticipation to see how Emperor Kang would shape the future of the Han dynasty.

To the south of Middle Earth, beyond the vast expanse of the Great Desert, a vibrant civilization emerged during the time of the New Kingdom of Egypt. This empire, known as Nok, left a profound impact on Nigeria, comparable to the influence of Sumer on Mesopotamia or the Olmec on Middle Elysia. Although the memory of the Nok empire has faded over time, its legacy continues to thrive and shape the present. The Nok empire introduced remarkable advancements such as steel-making, the development of writing systems, effective governance structures, and the cultivation of crops like rice and yam. They established a vast trade network, facilitating the exchange of goods and ideas. Most importantly, their cultural influence spread throughout the southern Middle Earth, leaving an indelible mark on the societies that followed.

In the present era, three dominant tributary empires hold sway over Nigeria, alongside numerous buffer kingdoms and city-states. The Bantu people exert its influence over Bentae, named after its Bantu inhabitants. The Bantu expansion has reached as far south as the southern tip of Middle Earth, although the resilient people of Aethiopia have managed to resist their political dominance. In the extreme south, within the depths of rainforests and mountainous regions, pockets of distinct cultures have managed to retain their identities. The eastern and western coasts of Bentea are adorned with bustling city-states and kingdoms that thrive on trade connections with the Indian Ocean to the east and the Nigerian empires to the west. Among these, two prominent Bantu kingdoms have emerged, centered around the Great Lakes and the Copperbelt region, while new states continue to take shape along both coasts. Aethiopia, on the other hand, finds itself under the dominance of the Kushite Empire, stretching from Lower Nubia to the Studd Swamp along the Nile. Additionally, the Axum Empire holds sway over the highlands and much of the Somali coast. Both empires actively participate in the extensive trade network connecting the Mediterranean and the Indian Ocean, competing with the eastern Bauto city-states and Arabian kingdoms for control over lucrative Indian trade routes. These intricate connections shape the economic and cultural landscape of the region, fostering a dynamic environment of interaction and exchange.



Gone Fishin'
I would like to tell a bit about my future updates.
As I mention in the beginning I want to cover rest of the world as well. While I did posted a map overview last week, I want to go into more deeply in one few regions of the world before starting on the next chapter.

Thus there would be three interlude chapters covering Han dynasty, Kushan empire and then Nigeria. What I would cover are hinted in the above map overview.

Unfortunately I had tossed my Han dynasty chapter as I need to rewrite it so it would take some times before the next update is ready

Speaking of which. Nigeria is the atl name for West Africa below Sahara
Interlude I: The Dragon Empire of East


Gone Fishin'

Interlude I: The Dragon Empire of East​

The legacy of Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Magnus had a profound impact on the Roman Republic and beyond. However, the fate of the Roman republic was intertwined with other remarkable civilizations across Middle Earth. One such civilisation was Serica on the other side of Middle Earth. As Rome engaged in conflicts and emerged victorious against the successor states of Alexander the Great, the Han dynasty of Serica experienced its own era of glory and fame under the reign of Emperor Wu. Emperor Wu played a pivotal role in fostering the prosperity and expansion of the Han dynasty during its golden age.

One of the key moments of the history of Middle Earth was the War of Heavenly Horses. This conflict was named after Serica’s relentless pursuit of the famed heavenly horses, legendary for their unparalleled swiftness, strength and endurance, and believed to have been beed by the gods themselves. These horses were speculated to be a magnificent crossbreed of Thessalonian war horses and Scythian steppe horses. Nevertheless the war began one decade after Emperor Wu displaced Zhang Qian, a skilled diplomat and intrepid explorer, to the west in search of allies against the Xiongnu. This nomadic tribal confederation had long been a thorn in the side of the Han dynasty for decades, terrorising their northern territory. Zhang Qian’s extraordinary journey was fraught with numerous obstacles and trials, including enduring a decade-long captivity at the hands of the Xiongnu.

Eventually Zhang Qian fled from the Ziongnu and made his way to the Dayuan, the Han dynasty’s designation for the Greek kingdom of Bactria. At the time it had been conquered by the Yuezhi, a confederation of five noble nomadic tribes who had been driven from their ancestral lands in the Gansu province by the Xiongnu. To Zhang Qian's disappointment, the Yuezhi expressed no intention of waging war against the Xiongnu, rendering his ten-year captivity and his entire mission seemingly futile. However, during his stay in Dayuan, he came across the city of Alexandria Eschate, which its Greek inhabitants greatly intrigued him. They displaced a complex urban lifestyle, astute acumen in trade and commerce, and notably their mastery in breeding the magnificent heavenly horses .

Zhang Qian returned to the imperial court in Chang’an, and impressing Emperor Wu with his description of the legendary heavenly horses. Emperor Wu recognized the strategic value of these horses and dispatched envoys to Dayuan to obtain them, but the Dayuan king refused the deal and even killed the envoys. This angered Emperor Wu, who ordered his general, Wei Qing, to launch a campaign to capture the heavenly horses from Dayuan. After several failed attempts, the Han army finally succeeded in seizing the horses and returned victorious to Serica. The Emperor was pleased with the outcome, as the horses greatly improved the quality of his cavalry. However, the conflict with the Dayuan also marked the beginning of Han expansion westward, which eventually led to the creation of the Protectorate of the Western Region in Tarim Basin and the opening of the Silk Road.

During the turbulent time of the Great Roman Civil War prior to the ascension of Emperor Augustus the Great, which occurred less than a century later, the Dragon Throne of the Han dynasty was occupied by Emperor Yuan, the great-grandson of Emperor Wu. Although the Han dynasty had surpassed its zenith of power, it still remained a significant and influential force in eastern Middle Earth under the rule of Emperor Yuan. His era marked a shift in imperial priorities, moving away from the reformist approach of his predecessors. Emperor Yuan and his statesmen prioritising economic prosperity over excessive spending and expansion, striving to alleviate the burdens on common people Notably, Emperor Yuan actively sought the counsel of capable officials and appointed adherents of Confucius to key government positions.

Amid Emperor Yuan's efforts to solidify Confucianism as the official ideology, the empire experienced a gradual decline attributed to his indecisiveness, inability to quell factional infighting among officials, and misplaced trust in corrupt individuals. This era witnessed the emergence of a recurring theme in Serica's history - the tension between virtuous Confucian scholar-officials and influential eunuchs within the imperial court. Additionally, conflicts arose among Emperor Yuan's consorts: Wang Zhaojun, Fu Yuan, and Feng Yuan, all of whom had sons. Emperor Wu bestowed the title of empress upon Consort Wang, and her son Liu Ao was designated as the heir apparent. Empress Wang made efforts to maintain a harmonious relationship with the other consorts, but Consort Fu harboured ambitions for her son Liu Kang to go beyond the position of an imperial prince and ascend to the Dragon Throne.

When Octavius and his friend Agrippa were on their campaign in Hispania, prior to Octavius' own ascent to the position of princeps in the Roman Republic, Emperor Wu of Serica found himself observing a thrilling spectacle of wild animal fights. Accompanied by his concubines, including consorts Fu and Feng, the emperor witnessed an unexpected turn of events when a wild bear broke free from its cage, creating panic among the nobles as well as consort Fu, who swiftly fled the scene. However, in a fateful and ill-conceived attempt to win favour from Emperor Wu, consort Feng bravely stepped forward towards the bear, ultimately meeting her tragic demise. This untimely loss placed her son, Liu Xing, at a disadvantage, and ignited a power struggle between Empress Wang and consort Fu to secure the position of their respective sons as heirs to the Dragon Throne.

Meanwhile, the once mighty Xiongnu had crumbled from the pressure by the combined forces of the Han dynasty and rival nomadic tribes. The Xiongnu faced an internal conflict as the warlord Zhizhi seized the throne from his brother Huhanye. In desperate need of support, Huhanye turned to Emperor Yuan's father, offering his loyalty to Serica in exchange for assistance. As defeat loomed, Zhizhi and a large group of followers fled to the distant west, seeking refuge in lands beyond the reach of his brother and the Han dynasty. Presently, the exiled faction of the Xiongnu settled around Lake Balkhash, north of Sogdia and Dayuan. Zhizhi formed an alliance with the Kangju Sogdians, but their involvement with the rebellious nomads posed a growing threat to the interests of the Protectorate of the Western Region.

The role of Protector-General was crucial in managing relations between Serica and the numerous kingdoms in the Tarim Basin, as well as overseeing the Silk Road. However, when reports of Xiongnu incursions reached the current Protector-General Gan Yanshou, he hesitated to take action due to the unprecedented remoteness of the territories involved. Unfortunately, during this time, Gan Yanshou fell ill, providing an opportunity for his deputy, Chen Tang, to seize control and launch a military expedition against the Xiongnu without proper authorization. When Gan Yanshou eventually learned of this unauthorised campaign, it was too late to intervene. Aware that he could face the death penalty for exceeding his authority, the Protector-General had no choice but to reluctantly support the military venture, hoping that a resounding victory would excuse his failure to control his subordinates.

With a combined force of 40,000 Han and Hu troops, the expedition ventured westward through Kangju territory, making its way towards Chanyu, Zhizhi's newly constructed fortress located at the present-day city of Taraz. Along the route, the Han army encountered fierce attacks from Kanju raiders, resulting in significant casualties. However, these assaults did not significantly impede the progress of the Han forces. Sensing the need for a strategic manoeuvre, Chen Tang ordered his Hu troops to retreat and successfully defeated the Kangju raiders. Several Kangju nobles, impressed by the Han army's strength, decided to defect and provided valuable information and guidance.

Upon reaching Chanyu, Zhizhi deployed his steppe warriors and Greek mercenaries in an effort to stall the Han forces and buy time for additional reinforcements. The unexpected presence of disciplined Greek hoplites within the enemy ranks caught the Han army off guard, as they had anticipated facing predominantly horse archers. However, the limited number of Greek hoplites proved insufficient to significantly impact the outcome, and they were eventually forced back into the fortress alongside the rest of Zhizhi's army. Undeterred, the Han forces pressed forward, successfully breaching the outer walls despite a spirited attempt by the Xiongnu horsemen to mount a sortie, only to be repelled by the Han forces.

The initial line of defence crumbled swiftly, forcing the Xiongnu forces to retreat into the inner citadel. In a desperate attempt to fend off the advancing Han army, Zhizhi armed his queen, concubines, and courtiers. Despite the arrival of a 10,000-strong Kangju relief force, they too were eventually repealed. Zhizhi's defeat was imminent, and he succumbed to his injuries shortly after. His queen and crown prince were captured alive and taken into Han custody. This battle marked the second recorded encounter between the Sericans and Greeks from the distant western lands. However, it would be nearly a century before the contact between the two mighty empires on opposite sides of Middle Earth would take place.

While Octavius and Agrippa were engrossed in their Illyrian Campaign and Emperor Augustus focused on the monumental task of codifying Roman law, Emperor Wu's health began to deteriorate, leading to a decline from which he would not recover. Consort Fu and Prince Kang found themselves frequently summoned to his sickbed to provide care and support, while Empress Wang and Crown Prince Ao were seldom given the same attention. Emperor Yuan had developed growing discontent with his designated heir, Crown Prince Ao, and instead formed a close bond with Prince Kang, who shared his passion for music, particularly drumming. Prince Kang, known for his intellect and diligence, stood in stark contrast to his half-brother Ao, notorious for his indulgences in drinking, cockfighting, and womanising. The influence of Consort Fu, who had risen to prominence following the tragic demise of Consort Feng three years earlier, had marginalised Empress Wang, and ultimately persuaded Emperor Yuan to appoint Prince Kang as the heir apparent, sidelining Crown Prince Ao and altering the course of succession.

Two years later, in 721 AUC, Emperor Yuan passed away, and the new Crown Prince Kang ascended to the Dragon Throne as Emperor Gong.


Gone Fishin'
For those who doesn't know Chinese history: The death of consort Feng is the PoD. This resulting in Prince Ao not to ascend to the throne as Emperor Cheng with her mother as Empress Dowager Wang. This led to her brothers wouldn't come to power and eventually the overthrow of Han dynasty by her nephew Wang Mang. This would cause the kingdoms in Tarim Basis not to rebel and thus Protectorate of the Western Region wouldn't collapse. This mean a earlier contact between Rome and China :cool:
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Emperor Umberto

Caesar Filiberto, followed by the three elected consuls from each part of the empire. Gisela of Germania, Cardozo of Latina and Antonios of Graecia.
When did Italy get invaded by Germans to the extent that the emperor and heir both have Germanic names?

Cardoso is a surname (place with thistles), really odd to be here

And why have Latin 'us' endings morphed to'o' when the Greek 'os' endings haven't?

Copenhagen in the New World.
Weird to see an English mangling of a name 'merchant's harbour' used as the Norse capital.

The Industrial Revolution kickstarted by that damn Indian upstart
If by 'industrial revolution', you mean weaving cloth with water power, then why is anyone else worried?
If you mean iron and steel, Indian is a horrible place for it to start. They don't have an accessible supply of good coal.
If by 'industrial revolution', you mean weaving cloth with water power, then why is anyone else worried?
If you mean iron and steel, Indian is a horrible place for it to start. They don't have an accessible supply of good coal.
Bengal was already in the process of undergoing proto Industrialisation, during the 17th century on the back of its textile industry.....and may I remind you India is currently the second largest producer of Coal after China.


Gone Fishin'
When did Italy get invaded by Germans to the extent that the emperor and heir both have Germanic names?

Cardoso is a surname (place with thistles), really odd to be here

And why have Latin 'us' endings morphed to'o' when the Greek 'os' endings haven't?
Who are saying the correct dynasty isn't a German dynasty? The prologue take place two thousand years after the death of Julius Caesar and a lot had happen in-between.
Cardoso was a miss and I am not a linguist so these names are just something I have picked by random.

Weird to see an English mangling of a name 'merchant's harbour' used as the Norse capital.
I could have named it as København but as this board is an English-speaking board I choose to use the more familiar English name for it which still mean the same. If you think it is uncreative to name "merchant's harbour" as the Norse capital, then Denmark does actually have several cities whose names would directly translate to "merchant's harbour".

If by 'industrial revolution', you mean weaving cloth with water power, then why is anyone else worried?
If you mean iron and steel, Indian is a horrible place for it to start. They don't have an accessible supply of good coal.
I wouldn't repeat what Viking25 already answered but there is also in Roman's interest in keeping to keep India disunited to keep the spice flowing. Furthermore I see it less like for the industrial revolution to start in Rome or China, and India is a oblivious candidate. This is also a turn away from the trope of steampower Rome.
Interlude II: The Kingdom at the Crossroad


Gone Fishin'

Interlude II: The Kingdom at the Crossroad​

The Greek present at the Dayuan as recorded by the Han dynasty or Bactria as it was known to the west had a long history at the crossroads of Middle Earth. One of its most important cities was Zariaspa, believed to be the birthplace of the prophet Zoroaster and was also known to be the hometown of the first disciples of Buddha. The distance between Zariaspa and Chang’an was about as long as the distance between Zariaspa and Antioch, which made it the centre of Middle Earth. Rebellious Greeks had been deported to this rugged borderland during the height of the Achaemenid Empire, leading to the hellenization of the native population and the absorption of Greek culture, including the Greek alphabet. This was the beginning of the meeting between West and East.

In the year 420 AUC, Alexander the Great embarked on an unprecedented war of conquest across Asia and reached Hindu Kush nine years later. Upon his conquest of the region, Alexander created four Satrapies, and within them founded three prominent cities: Alexandria on the Indus, Alexandria on the Caucasus and Alexandria Eschate. These cities were populated with Greek settlers, and established themselves as the elites over the native population. They would form the basis for Hellenic presence in the crossroads of Middle Earth for centuries to come. Alexander’s companion cavalry did also make its home in Bactria, and horses bred there would one day become famous throughout Middle Earth as the legendary Heavenly Horses.

Upon Alexander's death, his empire was divided among his generals, which led to the emergence of various Hellenistic kingdoms. The eastern territories became part of the Seleucus, one of Alexander’s generals, who ruled over the former territories of the Achaemenid Empire in Asia. However, the Seleucid Empire didn’t hold these territories for long as the burgeoning Mauryan Empire led by Chandragupta in India annexed the Macedonian satrapies in the Indus without much trouble. To avoid a prolonged war, Seleucus recognized Mauryan claim over Indus, while Chandragupta married Seleucus’ daughter. Peace was secured, and Chandragupta came to rule over almost all of India, including the Greek population in Indus.

The Ptolemaic dynasty likewise came to power in Egypt as a great rival to the Seleucid Empire. The Seleucids and Ptolemies engaged in frequent conflicts over control of the Syrian borderlands, but ultimately, the Ptolemaic kingdom proved more durable under Rome’s protection. Despite these challenges, the Seleucids were able to maintain their empire due to their adaptation of the Achaemenid Persian administrative bureaucracy. They divided their empire into satrapies, where a Greek elite would rule over a native population who usually held lower-level administration roles. This system of government helped the Seleucids to exert control over their vast territories, but it also contributed to tensions and conflicts with the native populations.

Ashoka the Great ascended as the Mauryan Emperor in 486 AUC. He soon converted to Buddhism and sent Buddhist missionaries across central Middle Earth as well as converting the Greeks in his realm. Meanwhile further north, the Greeks of Bactria and Parthia seceded from the Seleucid Empire by 504 AUC. Due to the Seleucids' ongoing conflict with the Ptolemies, they were unable to retake control of their eastern satrapies. This allowed the newly formed Bactrian kingdom to solidify its borders and expand its territory to encompass Sogdiana and Ferghana, including the city of Alexandria Eschate.

Although the Seleucids eventually refocused their attention on the east and subdued the rebellious Parthian Satrap, the Bactrians withstood a three-year siege of their capital city, Zariaspa now named Bactra, and managed to maintain their independence. Meanwhile a man called Arsaces of Scythian or Bactrian origin was elected leader of the Parni tribes. Under the command of Arsaces and his brother Tiridates, the Parni invaded and seized the control of the Parthian Satrap. Unable to hold their vast empire together, Arsaces and his successors succeeded to expel the Seleucids from Iran and established the Parthian empire. Eventually the westward expansion of Parthia would clash into the rising Roman Republic.

During this time, the Mauryan Empire began a slow decline after the death of Ashoka. This allowed the Greco-Bactrian kingdom to venture into the Indus Valley and conquer the Indian Satrapies created by Alexander the Great. For a brief time, the Greco-Bactrian kingdom experienced a golden age with the control of the important trade between India, Serica and Iran. However an official back at Bactra overthrew the reigning monarch and proclaimed himself as the new king in 574 AUC, causing a schism among the Greeks. The realm was ultimately divided into two distinct kingdoms, with the kingdom of Bactria situated in the north and the kingdom of Indus in the south

Buddhist art, literature and tradition flourished in the Greek kingdom of Indus, and its kings were great patrons of the faith. This was in stark contrast to the Shunga Empire, the successor state to the Mauryan Empire, which was said to be a cruel persecutor of Buddhists. Unlike the Ptolemiac kingdom and the Seleucid empire who maintained a strict racial hierarchy, the Greeks in Indus mingled with the local Indian population side by side, leading to a syncretic blend of Greek and Indian culture. A unique Greco-Buddhist art style began to emerge, and it was around this time that Buddha was first depicted in human form. Even the legendary Greek hero Heracles was commonly depicted as the Buddha’s protector, and their own gods became increasingly Indianizing.

The other Greek kingdom to the north was described as the wealthy Bactrian kingdom of thousand cities and a land of great riches. Acting as a bridge between the realms of the east and west, this kingdom served as a vital link in the intricate tapestry of Middle Earth. However, its geographic proximity to the Scythian steppes exposed it to the constant threat of raids and potential invasions by nomadic tribes. The rise of the Xiongnu unleashed a profound nomadic movement among the Scythian tribes, an event that reverberated throughout the histories of Rome, Parthia, and the Greek kingdoms in the Crossroad. The consequences of this nomadic upheaval would leave an indelible mark on the political and cultural landscapes of these diverse realms.

One of these Scythian tribes were the Yuezhi, a confederation of semi-nomadic people, resided on the border of Serica for a very long time, prospering by facilitating the trade of jade and horses to the warring states of Serica, as well as the Qin and Han dynasties. Their stronghold was the Gansu Corridor, which was surrounded by various nomadic confederations, including the Wusun and the Xiongnu. Initially, the Yuezhi's cooperation with the Qin dynasty made them formidable, and they began to scorn and attack their neighbours, forming bitter rivals with them. By 534 AUC, the Yuezhi's combined pressure with the expanding Qin dynasty compelled the Xiongnu to retreat north beyond the Gobi desert. At that time, it appeared that Yuezhi was the most powerful of the three major nomadic confederations on Serica’s northwestern frontier, but this was about to change dramatically.

Modu Chanyu ascended to power as the leader of the Xiongnu, renowned as one of the greatest horse lords during the classic era. With his leadership, the Xiongnu underwent a reorganisation that allowed them to assert their dominance over the vast steppe lands. Their expansionist ambitions led them to wage war against neighbouring tribes, including the formidable Yuezhi. In 579 AUC, Modu launched an attack on the Yuezhi, and his son later inflicted a crushing defeat on Yuezhi eleven years later. The defeated Yuezhi were forced to abandon their ancestral land in the Gansu Corridor, prompting a westward migration that spanned several decades. Along their journey, the Yuezhi clashed with another Scythian tribe, the Saka, who were subsequently compelled to flee southward into Bactria from the Ili River.

In their desperate flight from the Yuezhi, the Saka overran the Greek kingdom of Bactria by 609 AUC, resulting in the overthrow of its last king. However, the Yuezhi threat continued to loom large as the Xiongnu and their bitter Wusun allies launched an attack against the Yuezhi once again. Recognizing the vulnerability of their new territories, the Yuezhi themselves decided to push southward into Bactria fifteen years later, driving out the Saka. Overwhelmed by their nomadic kinsmen, some of the Saka sought refuge in Parthia, while others migrated to the Hindu Kush region and conquered the remaining Indo-Greek kingdom. These conquerors, who would soon adopt Hellenistic influences, came to be known as the Indo-Scythians.

Fortunately the Xiongnu was forced to turn its attention elsewhere as Emperor Wu of the Han dynasty launched a series of military campaigns aiming at ending the humiliating tributes to the Xiongnu and halting their increasing raids. It was during this time that the renowned diplomat and explorer Zhang Qian visited the Yezhi, seeking a common alliance against the Xiongnu, which the Yuezhi declined. Emperor Wu’s military campaigns against the Xiongnu reached their peak with the conquest of the strategic Gansu Corridor, culminating in their decisive victory in the Battle of Mobei by 635 AUC. This triumph effectively expelled the Xiongnu from the Gobi desert and shattered their former dominance over the steppes. Never again would the Xiongnu regain the strength they once possessed.

The Yuezhi Confederation, after settling in the territories of the former Greco-Bactrian kingdom, divided the land among the five noble tribes, including the Kushan tribe. Each tribe governed a separate province, led by an elected xihou or 'allied prince', who resided in one of the Greek walled cities within their respective territories. This unique arrangement led to a coexistence of Greek urban dwellers and the Yuezhi, with even their respective warriors, the hoplites and the Yuezhi steppe warriors, fighting side by side. Supreme authority within the confederation was held by each prince for a specific period, after which another tribe would take over. Following the death of Emperor Augustus, Sapadize ascended as the prince of Kushan, and it was his grandson, Kuljula Khadphises, who would ultimately seize control of the confederation and establish the mighty Kushan Empire.
I am not very much familiar with the Middle Kingdoms of India. Do you have some suggestions to which change I can do with India at this period?
I think greater expansion of Kushan Empire in india particularly in South india where in canon they mostly limited in north. Also maybe a consolidation of Mahayana and its key scriptures like Lotus sutra and others under Kaniska's patronage . In canon Mahayana lack any central fremework and various schools formed from it. Maybe here a more orthodox fremework will be created and greater focus on missionary activities both in china and west due being india's geographic position. Kushan's can more or less portray themselves as successor of Mauryan Dynesty and incorporate a Indian version of mandate of heaven or chakravatin title for themselves along with various vedic rituals like rajasuya or ashvamedha under Buddhist fremework to portray themselves as a indian dynasty. Incorporation of south india complete such image after all.
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I'd like to see if there's an earlier overthrow of the Parthians after Caesar beat them. A Persian Empire cowed by a powerful Rome could focus eastwards, winning conquests in India and Central Asia before finally turning to war with Rome.
Interlude III: The Land of Gold and Steel, Part 1


Gone Fishin'

Interlude III: The Land of Gold and Steel, Part 1​

In the southern region of Middle Earth, a young civilisation emerged, distinct from the ancient societies of the Fertile Crescent, Indus River and Yellow River. This civilisation found its heartland along the expansive Niger river, which played a central role in their own agricultural revolution. The Nigerians cultivated various crops such as Yam, rice and millet, harnessing the fertile lands surrounding the river. As their population grew, so did the need for organised settlements, leading to the emergence of urban centres during the decline of the Old Kingdom of Kemet. However, what truly distinguished the Nigerians from their contemporaries was their unprecedented technological leap from stone to ironworking, bypassing the bronze age entirely.

The revolution in metallurgy unfolded in the Termit Massif around the time when the 18th dynasty of Kemet successfully ousted the Hyksos invaders, heralding the dawn of the New Kingdom of Kingdom. As the New Kingdom of Kemet flourished, the knowledge and techniques of ironworking gradually permeated through various trade routes, including the renowned Steel Road that connects the Termit Massif to the Jos Plateau, the ancestral home of the Nok people. Ironworking held an aura of sorcery and mystery in the Nok culture, and the legends surrounding its origins were many. Among the legendary figures of the Nok people, one historical individual emerged from the annals of time: Inadese the Conqueror. Born in Duwa in the year 710 before the founding of Rome, Inadese hailed from a notable lineage of kingmakers, though they never ascended to the throne themselves.

Renowned for his mastery of magic and ironworking, he was elected to the throne at the age of 19 following the passing of the previous king. He exhibited exceptional leadership as he organised his warrior bands into a disciplined army, equipping them with a combination of stone and iron weapons. This technological advantage allowed his forces to swiftly overpower neighbouring warrior bands that still relied on inferior stone weaponry, resulting in the conquest of numerous hillforts. By the age of thirty, Inadese achieved the unification of the Jos Plateau, solidifying his position as its ruler through formal election by a council of esteemed kingmakers who were once the rulers of the hillforts. Around the year 640 before Rome, the Jos Plateau transitioned from a collection of tributary territories to a cohesive and organised state, marking a significant milestone in its evolution.

Tunde the Great, the fourth ruler of the Nok Kingdom, was widely credited with the establishment of a sophisticated bureaucracy that played a pivotal role in governance. Central to this bureaucracy were the bureaucrat-griots, a dedicated group of men and women who held unwavering loyalty to the king. Serving as tax assessors, judges, and historians, these individuals were chosen from the esteemed class of poets known for their exceptional memory and storytelling abilities. Meanwhile, Duwa, the capital city of the Nok Kingdom, had undergone significant growth and transformation. It had flourished into a thriving urban centre, boasting a population of tens of thousands.

Notably, Duwa had become a revered pilgrimage destination, attracting visitors from far and wide across the Jos Plateau and beyond. Within the city, the cult of the nameless creator deity held its sacred place, serving as the spiritual core of Duwa. Additionally, various public cults worshipping different deities, divine ancestors, and animalic spirits thrived alongside the cult of the nameless creator deity. This rich tapestry of religious practices added depth and diversity to the spiritual life of Duwa, reflecting the multifaceted beliefs and traditions of the Nok Kingdom. The secret society who conducted religious rites in the capital held great influence in the kingdom.

During the early period of Nok civilization, intrepid traders from the Nok Kingdom ventured across the lower Niger, embarking on expeditions that took them deep into the heartland of the river with the help of sturdy donkeys. They reached the bend of the Niger by around the Year 630 Before Rome and traded with the tribes engaging in salt mining in the deep desert. Salt proved to be a commodity comparable to that or iron, and the “Salt Road” saw the emergence of way stations and towns at strategic points, serving as vital points for commerce and exchange. Notably, it was during this period that an unnamed smith in Duwa discovered the technique of producing primitive carbon steel, using lignite purchased from the southern tribes, a crucial ingredient in the steelmaking. Around the same time, the descendants of the Hyksos chariot horses arrived in the Lake Chad basin and were brought as tribute and trade goods to the Nok Kingdom.

The advent of steel production and the utilisation of chariots transformed the early Nok kingdom into the grandeur of the Nok Empire. According to the Tales of Kings, the empire's expansion beyond the Jos Plateau commenced around the year 576 Before Rome, eventually extending its reach to the Niger River, Lake Chad, and Benue twenty years later. These geographical landmarks would come to define the natural boundaries of the Nok Empire throughout its historical existence. The territory beyond the Benue river to the south were heavily infested with tsetses, and only the resilient donkeys could endure the arduous desert campaigns to the north. Simultaneously, the people residing in the Lower Niger had acquired the knowledge of steelmaking, empowering them to forge defensive alliances and proto-states capable of withstanding Nok armies beyond their logistical reach.

The Niger Valley rose to prominence following the establishment of Bio around the Year 560 Before Rome, positioning itself as a key player in the region. Initially serving as a military garrison, Bio underwent a captivating transformation into a bustling market town, emerging as the economic epicentre of the Nok Empire. Recognizing its significance, the king and his administration relocated to Bio around Year 510 Before Rome, elevating it to the status of the empire's governmental capital, while Duwa retained its position as the religious capital. Of great significance was the emergence of the Palm Road, the empire's third major trade route, which led directly to Bio, located at the northernmost continuously navigable point on the Niger. Along this route between Bio and Niger Delta, a thriving exchange took place, with palm oil flowing northward in exchange for steel tools and works of fine craftsmanship.

Foreign trade became of such immense value to the Nok Empire that they established colonies along the western shore of Lake Chad, in the Niger Delta, and at the bend of the Niger River. These thriving towns served as vital hubs for the transmission of Nok culture and provided a catalyst for further state formation to the south. By about 515 Before Rome, the forest areas west of the Niger Delta witnessed the emergence of the Kingdom of Asu, while within the delta itself, a multitude of city-states flourished, eventually becoming renowned as the Palm kingdoms. The Palm Road connects with the Ivory road at Bio which continues further east, extending beyond Chad into the Chari basin, where merchants engage in commerce for highly sought-after commodities such as ivory, hides and forest products. This extensive trade network extended even further eastward, reaching the Nile, where one mighty empire held sway: the New Kingdom of Kemet.

As the prosperity of the Nok Empire flourished, the need for an efficient administration became paramount, prompting the bureaucrat-griots to develop a sophisticated system of communication known as aroko. Aroko served as a symbolic method for gathering and managing crucial information within the empire, encompassing diverse aspects such as data collection, record-keeping, tax monitoring, census records, calendrical information, and military organisation. Aroko relied on arranging natural objects in a specific pattern on a string, with each arrangement conveying specific meanings and messages when read in a particular sequence. These encoded messages were encapsulated within parcels and entrusted to highly trained messengers called Iranse, who possessed the remarkable ability to transport these parcels across vast distances, spanning over several hundred miles, using a network of relay stations. The knowledge of deciphering aroko was exclusively reserved for the bureaucrat-griots, ensuring that only those with the responsibility could interpret the encoded messages accurately.

Among the various methods of communication employed by the Nok Empire, the talking drums stood out as a unique instrument of linguistic expression. Its dual tones resembling the cadence of human speech resonated across the dry savanna, carrying messages over vast distances. However chariot horses were only limited to the military aristocracy and roads were too expensive to maintain in the dense rainforest to the south. Nevertheless, the expansive network of communication enabled swift information exchange, fostering seamless governance across the empire’s vast expanse. Its strength not only lay in its territorial dominance and immense wealth, but also in its ability to maintain seamless communication and coordination throughout its domains.

During this era, the Nok Empire reached the zenith of its power, and stood as a formidable force just as the Eastern Mediterranean and the Fertile Crescent suffered a widespread societal collapse.
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Gone Fishin'
I needed to spilt the Nok interlude into two as the update had became too long. Hope you enjoyed this piece of worldbuilding.
It is based on Nok Steel by Jonathan Edelstein and the only difference is I didn't include the spread of Egyptian hieroglyphs to Nok but rather developing their own communication system. Still his timeline is a recommend read - only 10k words spread across 7 pages.
The aroko might resemble the Incan means of communication (Quipu) but it is rather native to the Yoruba people in West Africa. Thank to From Nothing, a Afro-American youtuber with a focus on African Sub-sahara history, whose historic videos introducing me to the vastly unknown African history.

Beneath a map of Africa as it was around 1000 BC in the Wold of Nok Steel as well as the Imperium Universalis

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