Bergonian History

2000-200 BC

The Ancient Era

The first cities and governments.  The first use of tin and copper, and the development of bronze.  The first written language.

In western Bergonia power belonged to the armed caste of warriors called panitei.  In the east armed nobles called bunidors created Kuan civilization.  Villages clustered around rivers and streams, and peasants worked under the control of nobles living in manors.  Rulers, some imperial and some petty despots, held power in small cities, led bands of warriors, and sponsored temples.  

This was the time before the appearance of the Shufrantei religion.  Bergonian civilization then was young, a time of epic myths, when religion was vague, passionate and based on wonder, ecstatic sense and vision.  Art was vivid, literal, thick and intoxicating with images of the immanently holy, the people feeling very close to gods and spirits who walked the earth and owned the sky.

The Details:

The Neolithic transition

From this time people built clustered settlements like Chaco (New Mexico), Catal Huyak (Turkey) and Jericho (Palestine).  The defensive architecture leaves no doubt that war was known to these people.  

The natural form of organization of human life, the timeless organization of human society, was the hunting & gathering band or tribe, a rather benign stage of production and organization, basically filial-based cooperative organization.  

Then came the  development of agriculture and the "Neolithic Revolution," which, in the common view of Bergonian historians, occurred in these stages, with these pre-requisites:

1) Stable tribes with stable territory (a) experimented with wild grains and developed domestic strains, then (b) developed the basic techniques of sowing, farming and harvesting grains and the basic techniques of processing the grain and baking it.  Humankind's ability to produce food increased dramatically.  Concurrent with the domestication of grains came the domestication of animals-- in Bergonia goats & sheep-- for protein and clothing.  At first the scale of agricultural production remained on the tribal or village level.

2)  But then the stable tribal foundation suffered the effects of increased food production, and changed in conformity with  agricultural technology & method.  Marxian economic determinism has some usefulness in understanding this.   The population increased.  The nature of agricultural work was more complex than hunting-gathering production, and entailed a number of different tasks, which required labor specialization and and invited the development of a chief or overseer.  Yet much of the subsequent class differentiation was superfluous, and thus discretionary.  See Georges Battaille's theory of surplus value

3)  Operations of scale increased, requiring more coordination.  The agricultural surplus enabled a bunch of people who didn't have to participate in production.  A fission occurred in the increased numbers of people-- between those who remained engaged in food production, and those who lived off the food surplus.  The appearance of the peasantry coupled with an oppressive landed gentry coincided with the appearance of cities.  Oppression becomes the organizing mode of society, so that most people worked as peasants, bound to the land in the thrall of an upper class, the Iregemi.  

4) The bosses developed a class of armed attendants, largely to fend against one another, thus the appearance of military and state functions.  There has apparently been armed conflict among different tribes and bands of an occasional, skirmishing, or ceremonial sort, with some tribal cultures using war as the chief means of procuring brides (e.g. many Amazonian tribes).  But an agricultural-based culture apparently needed an armed contingent to protect the farmed lands from invasion or raiding, or to control and intimidate the peasants.  The armed contingent also became useful ad instruments in the wholly discretionary (i.e. unnecessary) intramural contests among the ruling class.  In Bergonia, the "armed attendants" became the Banda warrior class.

5) An ideological monopoly attended the monopoly of force, providing a justification for the social organization, hence the development of the professional Priesthood.  The monopoly was incomplete, and in most societies, perhaps all, belief  was a two-tiered affair, the upper strata consisting of public ceremonial life, including state-sanctioned and state-sanctioning ceremony, i.e. "religion," and the lower strata consisting of the remnants of pre-state, pre-urban superstition, folkways, and magic.

The Bergonian "Horizon Time," 3000-2000 BC

Archaeologists have excavated remains of village sites and discovered seeds and other signs of agriculture, suggesting that hunter-gatherers first settled down to village-based agriculture and herding in the range of 3000-2500 BC.  The oldest pottery shards recovered thus far date from around 2900-2800 BC.  Incidentally, the oldest pottery shards every recovered were recovered in Japan, dating 4000 BC.  

In most parts of Bergonia the people probably lived in wood and thatch huts.  The oldest surviving architecture are stone tombs and stellae, dating from around 2500 BC.  The stellae are carved with religious symbols, including pictures of gods.  Around 1500 BC mud-brick masonry came in wide use in Amota, a prerequisite for city structures. 

The entire archeological record is consistent with the idea that two cultures co-existed in prehistoric times. 

One culture, labeled the Oricar Culture, predominated in the west and south of Bergonia.  The Oricar buried their dead (leaving tombs for archaeologists to find), and practiced human sacrifice and harsh rituals of self-immolation.  Modern archaeological forensics have all but proven that at least some of the Oricar practiced cannibalism in regular ritual, though with what frequency is hotly debated.  Their pottery shards are painted with fanged feline figures.  They had a distinctive form of glyph writing.  Archeologists have discovered enough traumatic injuries recorded in the bones found in their burial remains to prove that they were warlike.

The second, called the Aretarei culture, consolidated in the highlands.  They cremated their dead, had a fire ritual, and organized into the animal-based clans.

The Aracarei in time wiped out the Oricar, and all the peoples of ancient and medieval Bergonia are descended from the Aratarei.  The legends say that the Oricar were given the gift of the sail, so that after all the wars their survivors made ships and sailed away from Bergonia to the west.  This of course has lead to all kinds of speculation that the Oricar  influenced the Olmecs and Maya, and all other Mesoamerican cultures, including even the Anasazi culture (e.g. Chaco).  

Regardless of whatever became of the Oricar, the Aretarei culture became the great island-wide proto-culture out of which all subsequent cultures and civilization evolved.  This Ur-culture incorporated these distinct features: (a) the clan system, (b) fire rituals and cremation of the dead, and (c) a warrior caste.  The wars of the Arecarei against the Oricar are likley the source for many of the ancient hero legends recorded in the Mineoathi.

The first cities sprang up in two different parts of Bergonia around 1500 BC. Ancient historians engage in never-ending debates about how and why cities originated, but they all concur that Bergonian cities sprang up as the warrior clans created a military and state organization under the leadership of a sun-chief.  Agriculture needed an organization (for protection from outsiders and for irrigation), and the organization once in control of the agricultural surplus in turn created forts, palaces and temples-- and then cities.


See Detailed Map of Bergonia, 700-1500 AD (click, then click to enlarge)


The First Cities of Bergonia:

See the entire collection of historical maps


Western Bergonia

The First Cilties in Western Bergonia, 2200- 1300 BC

In western Bergonia the Cuanta River drains the Ifuno Plateau.  Even though the windswept plateau is an average of 4000 feet above sea level, the floor of the deep wide fertile valley is only 400 feet in altitude.  In places it was twenty miles wide.  Here was fertile alluvial soil, with plenty of water and a mild protected climate.  The Cuanta River flows into Clatlao bay, which along with sister bay Claciufla constitute the famous Clacupo.  These protected bays can be reached from the open sea by passing a narrow strait only nine miles wide.  These lake-like bays have no surf, yet in places are deep, and they yield copious amounts of fish and shellfish.  The region around Clacupo is a region of narrow coastal plains and steep hills.  The climate here is moist and all the land, however steep, is verdant.

After 2200 BC the first cities in the west were built by an Oricar race, the Mienai, around the sandy Clacupo coastlines and set back in the dense forests covering the nearby hills.  They were the only Oricar race that ever built what we would call cities.  Typically Oricar, they buried their dead, and practiced rites of self-immolation, torture and cannibalism.  They built wooden houses around a raised temple-palace complex of stone.  All their rooftops were of thatch, and all their buildings were one story.

Up-river along the Cuecha an Aretarei group called the Opimai built cities fortified with stone and earthen walls and wooden palisades.  They engaged in relentless war against the Mienai, prompting the Mienai to fortify their own cities.  The Opimai apparently overran the Mienai rather suddenly and dramatically and extinguished them around 1700.  

The legend records that some of the Meinai sailed away into the setting sun in tiny boats, and thus carried their culture to Central America, which ultimately gave birth to the Olmec, Maya and Aztec cultures, and the pueblo cultures of the S.W. USA.  If there was ever a flight over the waters from Bergonia to Mexico, it would have occurred at this time.  

In time another Aretarei group around 1300 BC called the Lasa built cities even further upriver.  They in time absorbed the Opimai.  They got beyond simple wooden structures, baked brick, cut stone, and mastered masonry.  Their walled cities were each ruled by a sun-king and a moon-queen.  Bronze technology diffused across Bergonia from east to west, and the Lasa were quick to advance metallurgical technology and were soon producing excellent bronze swords and armament.

The people who lived in the Ifuno plateau,  to the south of the Cuanta River, were the Ancita.  They were more rustic, organized into small states, with only a few small towns, though they had many bronze forges.  Many of the Ancita were sheep and goat herders.  Many others were peasants living in small villages growing wheat, beans and orchard fruits. 

The Lasa and the Ancita, as well as many other western Bergonians, worshipped the same shifting polyglot of gods in disorganized cults, though almost all of them anchored their worship and calendar on fire rituals.  Among the more rustic people these rituals were often orgiastic, with wild dancing, with worshippers wearing masks imitating the gods, culminating with the sacrifice of a ram.  The fire rituals among the citified Lasa, with their reigning sun-king/moon-queen presiding over a hierarchical ritual arrangement, were more sedate and solemn, though often no less bloody.

The Lasa, the Ancita and all the other peoples of western Bergonia were ruled by a warrior caste called banda, quite bound by honor but very quarrelsome.  The banda among the Ancita were a particularly spirited and warlike group, and very passionately religious.  They formed feticinai-- warrior societies formed along clan lines who revenged desecrations of temples and shrines (and who perpetrated them), pursued vendettas, and provoked wars with their neighbors for honor and raiding spoils.  The Ancita banda initiated frequent raids upon the more developed Lasa, provoking the Lasa kings to wall their cities.


Eastern Bergonia

Kuan Civilization in the East, beginning approx. 1900 BC

In eastern Bergonia, in the region called Amota, the Kuan people built cities.  Each city was ruled by a strong sun-king called the bunidor, who commanded the army and sponsored a ritual priesthood.  The bunidors wore masks and capes and long flowing robes.  The similarity between the word bunidor and the word panitei do suggest a common origin, probably in the language of the Arecarei.  

The Kuan peasants worked under the control of manored lords who had feudal-type powers and obligations under the bunidor's rule.  The Kuan developed a written language using Chinese-style ideograms.  The peasants lived in mud-brick houses, with thatched roofs, while good solid brick was used to build the houses for the banidors and the nobles.  They developed the manufacture of bronze, and their ceramics were beautiful and sophisticated.  They had an ethos of sensuality and the material.  They built fine cities, with theaters, parks, public hot baths, schools, hospitals, sewers and waste disposal. 

Nine-God Worship:  They ultimately developed a rigid theology centered around a "corporate-godhead," consisting of the Nine Gods (four male, four female & one hermaphrodite) and their alter-egos spouses (likewise 4-4-1).  Their year had eighteen ritual months of 20 days each, one for each god and god-spouse.   The Nine Gods operated in harmony to oppose the nefarious Enemy-Gods, an utterly chaotic demonic rabble, represented as a race of winged giants with faces like monkeys and burning eyes.  The Nine chased the Enemy-Gods away to a place beyond the firmaments-- " beyond the great blue wall of sky." and regularly recreate the universe, in repeated battle and ritual, each time in triumph.  Thus the ultimate creation metaphor for the Kuan was martial.  After birth in battle, the Kuan universe was a thoroughly hierarchical in nature, well ordered, like the military.   

A great cycle of warfare afflicted the entire region from 1320 to 1220.  Most of the small cities were destroyed, and the population decrased.   By1000 BC the entire Kuan region was divided into two empires, the Torazon Empire in the north and the Southern Empire, each with an absolutist imperial governments demanding total obedience from all layers of society, with an organized priesthood and a rigid orthodoxy.  

By 700 BC these two states had been replaced by the single Mragatai Empire.  Mragatai of course exists today as a vibrant modern industrial city, but in its time it was the largest city in Bergonia with a probable population of a mere 60,000-100,000.  The emperor had a palace, fortress and walled garden approximately one square kilometer, surrounded by the rest of the city. Mragatai's rule was harsh, punishing crimes with whipping, maiming, amputation or death.  The imperial presence was equated with the presence of the divine, and to look upon the divine presence without permission deserved instant death.  This society was quite militarized, with every noble family expected to donate second and third sons to service, and every village expected to contribute young men to serve as front-line swordsmen and spearmen.  Gladiatorial contests were extremely popular, with the combatants typically fighting on a raised stage in the middle of the public square for all to see.

This was a brutal society.  Peasants were serfs bound to the land and under the virtual ownership of the nobles.  A great many people were slaves, subject to sale in a marketplace.  Criminals were tortured, maimed or beheaded. Tyrants celebrated battlefield victories by executing prisoners of war in the city squares.

The Pasan

The Pasan people in the north and northeast lived in small autonomous farming villages, each governed by a chief and a bicameral council of elders, with a "men's house" and a "woman's house" who often engaged in ritual contests with each other, ending in a grand reconciliation with plenty of dancing.  They lived in wooden or stone houses with thatched roofs, and they made beautiful pots and baskets.  They used stone implements but in time obtained copper and bronze implements from the more civilized people in the south by trading skins and shells, wine and mead, and gems and gold.  They believed in local deities that animated the things in nature, especially living things, so that plants and animals were repositories of force and goodness.  Their view of things bore analogy to the Shinto religion, with the belief in Kami.