Lands of Red and Gold

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: Before 1900' started by Jared, Dec 16, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. sahaidak Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2008
    Kiev, Ukraine
    The Polynesians used pandanus leaves. It is really interesting what did the Maori use, because I'm not sure that pandanus could thrive in relatively cold New Zealand (there are some 600 species of these plants, but almost all of them grow in the tropical zone of Earth).
    In OTL the Maori cultivated New Zealand flax (two species - harakeke, wharariki) for their clothing, baskets, nets and so on. This website ( claims that New Zealand flax is ideal for sail-making too, but there is no examples of Maorian sails on the site.
    Maybe, the Maori discontinued long-distance maritime travel because of want of pandanus and (possible) unreliability of New Zealand flax as material for sails?
  2. Admiral Matt Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    The more you write on this, Jared, the more I regret the loss of the timelines you considered doing instead. You've got access to so much information that I just don't.... and you're a cheap way to get info on obscure (or over-analyzed) areas.

    I would do some pretty terrible things to get access to J-Stor again.
  3. Hendryk Banned

    Aug 24, 2004
    Nice to see the prologue expanded upon, it had ended as a bit of a cliffhanger.
    It doesn't look like he'll bring writing back home, more's the pity, since the Raduru themselves are only aware of it by hearsay. I do hope that the concept of writing things down will reach New Zealand before European contact.

    What about the Maoris' navigational skills? Will those be picked up by the *Aboriginals?
  4. mojojojo Member

    Sep 9, 2006
    Will the Maori get alcohol in trade? Will they learn to make their own?
  5. Chargone Strange and Unusual Thing.

    Apr 29, 2008
    New Zealand.
    humm. there's an interesting thought.. the migration of writing. IRL, Maori picked up the Latin alphabet [which actually worked remarkably well] upon European contact.

    NZ also, if memory serves from a bit of light research i did for an RP long ago, has plenty of iron and so on. problem is there's no readily accessible soft metals. wouldn't be terribly surprising if They managed to develop iron working, once they had the idea of metal working and mining.

    of course, the only iron i Remember is iron sand... but apparently there's more other places. [NZ also has lots of coal in the south, though apparently it's not the highest grade ever and you have to dig in the mountains for it, mostly]
  6. Alratan Member

    Nov 6, 2005
    So true. When I left university oh so many years ago, I didn't realise that J-Stor (and ISI Web of Knowledge) wasn't public, and it came as a nasy suprise.
  7. NCW Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2007
    Even better - an *Australian equivalent of the Mongols, bounding across the Outback on the backs of Red kangaroos. It's not going to happen, of course, but it's a great image.


    "What's that you say, Skippy ? The Watjubagan army is a day's march away and is going to attack the Kurnawal tomorrow at dawn ?"
  8. NCW Well-Known Member

    Nov 14, 2007
    It doesn't sound like the Raduru are that familiar with alcohol. If they made it themselves they wouldn't find it strange that the "River-men" drink it.

  9. mojojojo Member

    Sep 9, 2006
    I meant eventually
  10. Jared Voldemort Jnr

    Mar 9, 2004
    Kingdom of Australia
    I managed to delete my original reply to all of these posts when it was nearly completed. Apologies if my replies are a bit short, but rewriting everything is a pain.

    Danke schon.

    Europeans already have made brief context with northern Australia; Torres just finished his voyage through Torres Strait a few years in 1605. Willem Janszoon landed in northern Australia in 1606. So there are a couple of hints there for the Dutch. Given what they will discover about the Atjuntja, I suspect that the Dutch (and maybe others) will go exploring further over the next few years. Northern Australia will be explored in more detail, although I doubt that the Dutch will find much to interest them.

    All shall be revealed in due course, assuming of course that there is anything to reveal.

    Sounds quite possible for the quolls. It also depends on the sorts of vermin which they are being bred to catch (rats a la carte, mostly), but it does sound like physically that quolls won't have changed much from their wild ancestors. Except maybe bred for more colours and other superficial traits.

    No marsupials have been fully domesticated, and under current legislation probably won't be, at least in Australia. (It's essentially illegal.) What evidence we do have suggests that quolls are domesticable - very easy to tame, breed well in captivity - but no-one's quite sure what the end product would look like. Given the paucity of real knowledge, I may have to fall back on the tried-and-true methods used by many scholars of prehistory: infer from self-evident wisdom (make up) and extrapolate from associated sources (read a lot of stuff which other people have made up, too).

    As others have also pointed out, taming is not the same thing as domestication. Kangaroos are for various reasons difficult to domesticate, and while we can't say for sure that it's impossible (not having really tried that much), it does look rather unlikely. Emus, on the other hand, are much easier. Of Australia's other relatively big mammals, wombats and koalas are also very bad candidates for domestication (too temperamental and too fussy in their diet, respectively).

    Maori contact with Australia is one of those things which probably happened in OTL, but there's no historical records of it. This is for the simple reason that since both sides didn't have writing, they couldn't keep any historical records of it. However, given the distances involved, the Maori certainly were capable of reaching Australia. We do know that Polynesians from somewhere made it to South America, picking up the sweet potato as a crop and giving the South Americans chickens in exchange. There's no historical records of that, either.

    What I've assumed for the purposes of the TL is that historically, there were one or two abortive contacts between Maori and Aborigines in the early years after the settlement of New Zealand. These wouldn't have gone anywhere since neither side had anything which the other really wanted, and the Polynesians never really went in for settling already-inhabited territory. ITTL, of course, there are things which each side would want from the other.

    It would be nice, but sadly, I suspect it would be difficult. Riding a kangaroo would also be difficult for those who are weak of stomach.

    From the first voyage, all that the Tangata will really be bringing back is knowledge: that there are these people over to the west who have lots of good things to trade for. They lucked out* with the diseases; blue-sleep was not going through right then, and although a couple of them picked up Marnitja (the joys of asymptomatic carriers), they survived it. They stayed long enough that they got over the symptoms, and none of the Tangata turned into asymptomatic carriers.

    Of course, now that the Tangata know what's over there, they will be looking to acquire some of the goods for themselves. They do have things which they can trade, so it's a good deal on both sides, really.

    *Lucked out literally; I used a random number generator to work out if any of them caught Marnitja or turned into carriers.

    Thanks for the comments; it's always encouraging to know that people are reading. :)

    They were lucky with the diseases. Bringing back samples of the crops from the first visit won't happen, but is pretty easy to manage in later visits. Emus are harder to trade, but can be done by bringing relatively young chicks across. (The Maori brought dogs to NZ, and a young emu is no bigger than that.)

    The Tangata are actually from the northern reaches of the North Island, just north of Auckland. (Their home is on the Kaipara Harbour). What's being described here is the very early stages of Maori settlement of New Zealand (they are thought to have arrived around 1280, give or take a decade). They are mostly hunting moa at this point, and hunting them out of the northern areas, and hence having to sail further and further south to find more.

    Paper seems to be one of those materials which is "only invented once." It would take a large dose of luck, and the *Aborigines have already had some luck and to spare. The main materials which I have planned for them to write with are parchment and clay, both of which are easily available and useful, although sometimes expensive.

    There is a plant which might make a native equivalent to papyrus, the leafy twig-sedge, (Cladium procerum), which might be suitable. Maybe. It is a distant relative of papyrus, grows in wetlands, and is widespread in Australia. But this might be a leap. And even if it is useful in some circumstances, papyrus was of most use in Egypt itself because of its hyper-arid climate which meant that papyrus did not decay. The agricultural parts of Australia are moister than that, so any *papyrus would be more prone to decay than things like clay.

    The Polynesian agricultural package would grow pretty well in the coastal regions of north-eastern Australia. The problem will be the inhabitants themselves. The Polynesians never really went in for settling already-inhabited areas (cf. most of New Guinea, and South America). Even if they did, those regions of Australia still supported a decent population of hunter-gathers, probably more than the Maori could defeat using such long-range raids. And in any case, give it a few years and the Maori may well have some competition for northern Australia.

    More or less. The seafaring skills were lost, but not that quickly. Norfolk Island was almost certainly settled from New Zealand sometime in the fourteenth or fifteenth centuries, and the Chatham Islands definitely were settled from New Zealand, sometime around 1500. So the skills lasted for a few generations.

    Yup. There are a lot of things which both sides will want from the other. They won't trade all of them all at once - life isn't that fortuitous - but there are reasons to maintain some long-term trade contact. Quite a few ideas are going to get transferred between the two lands over the first century or so.

    Polynesian crops: sweet potato, taro, various kinds of yams, gourds, etc. New Zealand flax and textiles made from it. Greenstone (jade) and various decorative kinds of feathers. And some other decorative items as well, perhaps (paua shells spring to mind).

    Both sides would think that they were doing better, of course, which is one of the instances of successful trade that both sides would want to keep going. From the Raduru point of view, red yams are almost as cheap as dirt, wattle seeds useful but also abundant (a wattle tree produces a lot of seeds), and so trading them isn't that much of a problem. Bronze would be much more of a premium trade good, since it's already come a long way to reach them. The Maori would get better terms if they could go to the sources (Tasmania and the northern coast of New South Wales).

    I'm not sure what the early Maori used, but at some point they seem to have switched over to making sails from NZ flax.

    From what I can find out in a quick google search, Pandanus doesn't grow very well in New Zealand, if it grows at all.

    Oddly enough, I came across this website myself as well. As far as I know, New Zealand flax is perfectly useful for making sails. Just about everything else can be made from it; in OTL the Royal Navy used ropes made from NZ flax and treated it as superior to ropes made from hemp or common flax. A quick google search finds a couple of other websites which also indicate that sails were made from NZ flax, here and here.

    I suspect not. Early Maori culture was still mostly maritime-oriented for a few generations. Their early settlements were pretty much coastal and relied for much of their food from fishing and shellfish harvesting, plus a little agriculture and inland hunts for moa. Over generations they adapted to New Zealand conditions, including developing better agricultural techniques, and mostly moved inland. But that took longer than it would need if they couldn't make sails - if not from NZ flax or pandanus, from one of the other plants which they used for fibre in OTL (probably a Cordyline species).

    Well, thanks, although there's only so much time I have to put into timelines. LoRaG may well be the last timeline I write. I prefer to focus on one area and do a lot of research into that topic than to cover a lot more areas. And while I enjoy writing LoRaG, there's no denying that it takes a lot of time to write, and my other life commitments are getting more and more time-intensive. If not for the fact that I don't really sleep very much, LoRaG probably wouldn't get written at all.

    And I do mean not sleep very much literally, by the way. For me, six hours sleep a night is a lot; five hours sleep is perfectly normal. A lot of my writing is done at odd hours of the night when everyone else is asleep, I'm not feeling at all tired, and late night TV is boring.

    I don't know if I have access to any more information than you or anyone else. Virtually all of my research is done online, and I don't have any first-hand access to specialist websites such as J-Stor or anything else. (I do have second-hand access to uni websites, but I use that only for professional research, not anything related to AH.) Mostly I just see what Polonopedia has to say on a subject, and then do a bit more work to find out how much Polonopedia got it wrong (which varies from "a bit" to "pretty much everything.")

    Researching potential Australian diseases was pretty straightforward, for instance. All I needed to do was look at what "emerging diseases" there are in Australia today. There's a long list of diseases which medical professionals call notifiable diseases, i.e. those which have to be reported whenever they are diagnosed. I just looked up one of those lists and then found out more about the diseases on the list.

    And, in passing, it was amazing how many diseases there are which are endemic to Australia. Just picking out the ones which are definitely native to Australia: avian influenza (various strains), Hendra virus (aka equine morbilivirus), Menangle virus, Murray Valley encephalitis (aka Australian arboencephalitis), Ross River fever, Barmah Forest virus, Australian bat lyssavirus, Kunjin virus, Australian spotted fever aka Queensland tick typhus (Rickettsia australis), Flinders Island spotted fever (Rickettsia honei) which has several strains and is also found on mainland Australia, scrup typhus (Orientia tsutsugamushi), malaria, dengue fever, leptospirosis, Donovanosis (Klebsiella granulomatis), and melioidosis. Endemic typhus (Rickettsia typhi) may well be native to Australia, too; I can't find out if it came across with European settlement or not. (Epidemic typhus is not found in Australia).

    I always planned to continue it; it was just that there were other matters to be explored first. I will take up the other half of the prologue (European content) at some point too, but that's not until after I finish covering pre-Euro Australasia. I've just finished the first draft of the post on the Atjuntja in Western Australia, which is who the Dutch will first have contact with. (And it weighs in at 7500 words so far - ye gods. I may have to split it.)

    The Raduru don't have writing yet, yes. The Raduru are basically at the arse-end of the world, as far as "civilized" Australians are concerned. They're a backwater, about as far as it's possible to be from the sources of bronze, blocked off by rugged terrain which makes trade limited, and generally hold to a lot of the old ways.

    Of course, in some ways this was better for the Maori; the Raduru also have much stronger traditions of hospitality, as a lot of early peoples did, since that was the only thing which made travel possible at all without being attacked by whoever you visited. Guests are nearly inviolate. That whole tea-drinking ceremony meant that they were under the Raduru king's personal protection, and anyone who harmed them would answer to him.

    To find writing, the Maori will have to explore further. The nearest place with writing is the Patjimunra peoples in the Hunter Valley, which isn't too far to the north. Or they could get the idea from the Yadji in southern Victoria, or various peoples in Tasmania.

    Some skills more than others. Boat-building and sailmaking techniques are reasonably easy to copy, enough so that the *Aborigines will be capable of sailing up and down the coast without too much trouble. The long-range navigational skills are another matter altogether. The knowledge of stellar navigation and other techniques are the closely-guarded secrets of a social class of navigators amongst the Maori (as they were in other Polynesian peoples) which are not willingly shared, and which in any case take a very long time to learn. So the *Aborigines probably won't learn how to sail reliably to New Zealand any time soon.

    Not from the Raduru, who don't make much of it, and what they do make is pretty weak. There are alcoholic beverages made in other places which the Maori may learn about if they sail far enough.

    The syllabic writing system of the Gunnagal wouldn't be as easy to adapt to the Maori language, although something could no doubt be worked out.

    I think NZ has a reasonable amount of iron. They could use bog iron if nothing else, which is useful for small-scale iron working. If the Maori ever learn about ironworking, that is; it's not universally known about in Australia. (The Raduru have never heard of it, although in 1310 neither had anyone else outside of south-western Australia).

    If memory serves, NZ has copper as well; I've done a bit of searching for that, and it looks like they have a few deposits. They'd have a devil of a job making bronze, though, since NZ has no useful tin deposits. They'd have to import raw tin ore or finished bronze products, which would not be impossible, but which would mean very limited usage. Or they might figure out arsenical bronzes, perhaps.

    Sadly about as likely as Zulu rhino cavalry helping to defend Ottoman Egypt from Napoleon Bonaparte, but a very entertaining idea.

    The Raduru make a kind of yam-beer brewed by wild fermentation, but it's pretty weak stuff (max 4% alcohol). Even OTL Aboriginal peoples made various kinds of mildly alcoholic drinks in this way, including one from a corkwood species (Duboisia myoporoides) which was made in the same region where the ATL Raduru live.

    There are alcoholic beverages in other areas of Australia which are much stronger than that. The one the Raduru traveller was speaking of was ganyu (spiced yam wine) which is about 10-12% alcohol, and thus hits much harder, which is why the traveller really noticed the difference. There's also strong alcoholic beverages in Tasmania and southern Victoria, among other places.

    Oh, yes, the Maori will learn eventually. I haven't worked out the date yet, though.
  11. Mark-ITSOT Mercian Imperialist Dog :D

    Oct 19, 2008
    I notice the Maori don't seem particularly impressed by Raduruville.
  12. mojojojo Member

    Sep 9, 2006
    Will the Maori ever bring over wild Australian animals to be released for later hunting (Like the Europeans did with deer in New Zealand)
  13. Historico Member

    Nov 23, 2004
    Cool Installment about the first contact between the ATL Aborigine's and the Maori...Ill have a much more detailled answer a lil bit later, but as always Keep it Comming:D
  14. Dathi THorfinnsson Daði Þorfinnsson

    Apr 13, 2007
    Syracuse, Haudenosaunee, Vinland
    Note that OTL, iron was used for quite a while before it really took off. If you use copper smelting techniques, you end up with a spongy metal that's less useful than bronze - although cheap. It's only advantage was that iron ore was far more widespread than tin.

    If the Maori learn copper smelting and smithing, they may be tempted to do something with iron. It would give them really lousy tools - but still better, in many ways than stone. Eventually, what with bronze being so VERY expensive (tin having to be imported from Tas), they may learn to make proper wrought iron.

    In other words, the Maori may pick up ironworking, not from iron workers, but from copper/bronze workers (as a much inferior substitute, but what they have).

    Also, coal is irrelevant. Iron working used charcoal from wood until the beginnings of the industrial revolution, and was considered superior for some time until new techniques were worked out. (Europe anyway, some one mentioned on this site that the Chinese may have used coal earlier).
  15. Chargone Strange and Unusual Thing.

    Apr 29, 2008
    New Zealand.
    i seem to vaguely recall something about greenstone having a Lot of advantages as far as tools go, even over bronze. been ages since i came across the info though.
  16. Admiral Brown Well-Known Member

    Aug 16, 2007
    Buenos Aires, la ciudad junto al río inmóvil
    Great update!!! :)

    Made me wonder about the first contact between Polynesians and Precolumbian *Southamericans IOTL (IF there was a first contact at all). There's some evidence that *Peruvians had hens before the arrival of the Spanish, and some assume they got them from Polynesia.

    I wonder if this was the case, and, if so, why wasn't a more permanent contact between South America and Polynesia established. Maybe there was no contact at all. Maybe there was one, but Polynesians weren't able to return home due to the Ocean currents. Or maybe they did return, but they had arrived to a desolated part of South America (like the Atacama desert or the South of Perú), and didn't find anything interesting. Considering that most of South American coast was rather sparsely settled (except in parts of Peru, where rivers met the sea), option third is not unlikely.

    A closer contact would have benefited both sides greatly. Do you imagine the Chimu or the Incas with Polynesian seafearing technology? Or the Polynesians cultivating potates or quinoa in the Eastern islands, working with metal tools and buildng terraces for agriculture? :cool:
  17. freodhoric the Ignored

    Oct 20, 2006
    Transylvania Polygnostic University
    May i put in a good word for a few surviving Moas? I'm thinking a combination of seeing the Australian's kangaroo preserves and having ready meat in the form of emus could take some pressure off them. Maybe not enough, but i hope so.

    I strongly believe that the Chimu were Polynesian (not all of them, of course). My reasons are circumstantial, but as follows: My memory is hazy on this, but their earliest legends were of a king of gold or sun or some-such who came from far to the west, and: AFAIK, they were noted seafarers in their own right, trading up and down the coast on large rafts. IMO, they just didn't want to travel all that very, very long way back to Polynesia when they were in a very nice place already.

    AFAIK, the Kon-Tiki proved that Polynesians could have sailed from South America to Polynesia.
  18. Jared Voldemort Jnr

    Mar 9, 2004
    Kingdom of Australia
    Well, it is shown through Kawiti's perspective. He's not the sort of man who's greatly impressed by anything; he sees things more in terms of how useful they are rather than how impressive they are. But even he was surprised at how large it was. And by *Australian standards, the Raduru hometown is, well, a small town. There are much larger cities even on the east coast, to say nothing of those in the Murray basin.

    Maybe a few species of wallabies, but large kangaroos would be a pain to move. They don't even transport emus as adults, and kangaroos would be worse. It's not impossible, but I think that the Maori's first priority would be domesticated animals: emus, ducks, more breeds of dogs, maybe quolls.

    Merci. More is coming, in a week or so.

    As far as I know, the early use of iron which crops up all over the world was using meteoric iron, which doesn't need smelting. Smelted iron was much more recent in its discovery, and iron seems to have spread faster than bronze did before it. Probably because of the advantages of quantity which you mention below.

    Being widely available certainly helped, although there were techniques which could be used to make iron more useful. One of the more surprising ones, but which was pretty widespread, was that smelting iron in a bloomery meant that there was a variable amount of carbon in different parts of the iron. Some of the iron would be effectively turned into steel (or otherwise harder and stronger, thanks to an appropriate carbon content). Blacksmiths would work this part of the iron into the useful part of a tool (e.g. the cutting part of the blade) and keep it attached to the rest of the less useful iron, which formed the main weight of the tool.

    Iron working isn't impossible, but I think that it would need longer to pick up than simply a couple of hundred years. The knowledge of metallurgy doesn't spread that quickly, and there's still a lot of tinkering to do to work things out even for bloom-iron.

    I doubt that the Maori would pick up those techniques before European contact, or at least European contact with Western Australia in 1619. (It may take the Dutch a while to make it as far east as NZ.)

    I think that'd be me mentioning that. :) The Chinese did use coal earlier, but then the Chinese used cast iron and blast furnaces much earlier than in Europe.

    The Maori certainly used greenstone for tools and jewellery, but I haven't seen any sources that suggest that it's got any advantages over bronze. Regardless of that, though, it will continue to be used for tools a lot of the time, if only because there's more of it available than bronze.

    We can be pretty certain that there was some contact between the Polynesians and South America in the pre-Columbian era. Aside from the evidence of chickens, there's also the sweet potato, which was being used in Polynesia long before Europeans showed up. A few sources have argued that the sweet potato drifted across on ocean currents naturally, but from what I can find out, the sweet potatoes which are grown in Polynesia were cultivated varieties grown from cuttings, not the wild variety.

    I suspect that the distance was the main barrier to permanent contact. The Polynesians were capable of sailing great distances, but it was risky even for them. South America is a lot further from the nearest Polynesian settled islands that NZ is from Australia. There's also the fact that the nearest Polynesian settled islands would be small and not have that many people, which means that the benefits of permanent contact aren't that great for them. (NZ and *Australia, by contrast, were much more heavily populated and thus had uses for long-distance trade).

    Getting potatoes would certainly have helped the Polynesians; their population on some islands (e.g. Hawaii, New Zealand) went up dramatically once they got access to potatoes. Although potatoes were mostly a temperate crop; they would be grown in the highlands of some of the bigger Polynesian islands (especially Hawaii), but not in all of them. I'm not sure of the climate requirements for quinoa, but I think that they're similar.

    The killer for moas turns out to be the growth rate. Moas took ten years or so to reach breeding age. This was for all species; even the smaller moas took ten years to reach bredding age, it was just that the bigger moas grew faster. This meant that moas were very, very vulnerable to overhunting. Emus in Australia weren't hunted any worse than moa, but because the emus bred faster, they survived. That's why I think that the moa are pretty much doomed as soon as they come into contact with people. Such a tempting target to hunt, and almost inevitably wiped out once people do start hunting them.

    The raft-building technology which the Chimu and others used wasn't that similar to what the Polynesians built. The Kon-Tiki indicated that people could sail the other way, from South America to Polynesia, not to South America from Polynesia. Of course, it does look like the Polynesians had contact with South America, but as far as I can tell, that contact did not involve major population movements in either direction.
  19. mojojojo Member

    Sep 9, 2006
    What breeds of dog do you think the aborigines of this TL will develop?
  20. The Sandman Purveyor of Sky Cake Banned

    Mar 10, 2005
    A twisty maze of passages, all alike
    Is Junditmara-style aquaculture transferable to New Zealand? Not necessarily the specific fish and eel species involved, but the basic idea?

    And if so, I can see a number of rather angry platypi being transported eastward and then dumped into the rivers as a future source of meat, fur and eggs. And milk.

    Huh, I just realized that you could actually get all the components for a traditional breakfast from a platypus. :p
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.