|Ancient Halarian City States
|c. 4000 BCE
|c. 1400 BCE
Ancient Halaria never unified, remaining as interconnected city states sharing a culture.
Because of its wide savanna, it never really had any defined borders. Especially because in many periods, it was closely aligned with several pastoralist groups who were not Halarians proper, but did use the Halarian langauge, adopted many hallmarks of Halarian culture, and did settle in Halarian city-states especially in times of crisis.
Scholars tend to either split its 2 millenia long history into 3 periods (Old, Middle, and Late periods), into 7 (with 1 corresponding roughly to the Late Period, 2 and 3 to the Middle Period, and 4-7 to the Old Period), or a comprimise position of splitting period 4 into a "transitionary period" between Old and Middle Periods. Sometimes, periods 6 and 7 are seen as a single period called "6."
Old Period (periods 5-7, roughly 4000 BCE - 2700 BCE)
The Old Period started at the beginning of the 4th millenium BCE, and by the middle of the 4th millenium, we see evidence of writing across the Lake Khuda region by about 3500 BCE. Because of the lack of written evidence from this period, some scholars argue that the beginning of the 4th millenium should be considered a separate 7th period.
The Old Period was generally defined by city-states with a strong bifurcated tribal system, wherein citizens would act with their maternal tribe during the wet season, and the their paternal tribe during the dry season. The two sets of tribes would not necessarily overlap, with some tribes only existing in one or the other month. Each tribe had a central tribal god, as well as the collective gods of the city.
Cities were built around a central temple complex, with a House of All Gods, where city wide meetings were held, and priests and elders frequently lived in. In addition, each tribe had a smaller shrine around the city as well.
While the Middle and Late Periods tend to be known for their Cult of the Trickster alongside their gods, there is no evidence from the 6th period, and only a bit of evidence from the 5th period and only in a small number of cities on the southern shore of Lake Khuda for the Trickster getting a special status.
There isn't an exact end to the Old Period - some scholars date it to the founding of Sonegio in South Halaria by the legendary Kasāta dynasty in what is traditionally believed to be 2760 BCE. Others point to a rapid change in production because of the city at the lake of the river, and northern Halarian cities do not see much change from the 5th Period before 2700 BCE.
Transitionary Period (period 4, 2750 BCE - 2450 BCE)
In most 19th C Halarian studies, this period tended to be lumped in with Old or Middle Halarian periods, with linguistic evidence used for old, and the starting of innovations that would characterize the middle Halarian period (though, these would not be adopted by all city states right away)
There were a few crop failures that sometimes drove Halarian city-state dwellers to become pastoralists and para-Halarian pastoralists to join cities at this time, leading to a mixing of populations, ideas, and all that, as well as innovations in city governance to handle the changing populations.
The city on the mouth of the lake used its existing Cult of the Trickster to establish many of its new citizens as "Wanderers" and at the changing of the gods every season, the collected priests would divvy them to work with whatever clan worked. To keep the clan system somewhat intact, a new parent would be assigned to whatever clan they were in at the birth of their first child, which would lead to a looser social bond among the clans as generations happened.
Due to a growing trade after these collapses, and this new city structure, the city on the mouth of the lake gets very wealthy, and starts extending a cultural influence on the rest of the Halarian city-states, including seeing evidence of some mention of the Trickster in almost all cities, and an adoption of this new Wanderer system.
Between the 27th and very early 25th Cs, the city at the mouth of the lake starts force vassalizing its neighbors. Each of those starts adopting more and more of the Trickster Cult, with some clans in cities both in the infleunce of the southern cites and not in the influence focusing on their chief god more than the clan.
The transition was not just a transition of individual city states consolidating a new clan system within each city, but also a change from a loose set of city states with similar langauge and culture to a specific confederatory structure. In response to the growing influence of the city on the gate of the river, almost all non-vassalized Halarian city-states join a coalition to attack it, which ended up in 2487 BCE with an battle that humiliated the city as a "vassal to all," which had to pay tribute to all cities in the coalition.
The city at the mouth is still a bottleneck of trade, so rebounds quickly. The tribute within a few years causes inflation that causes the tribal systems of most cities to fall apart. The priestly classes of some try new building programs in the hot season, with all citizens becoming Wanderers in the summer, and all priests relying on the Cult of the Trickster to turn people into the correct godly portion.
The changing methods of production lead to both more widespread production, but also more instability.
Middle Period (periods 2-3, 2450 BCE - 1800 BCE)
The greatest number and extent of most Halarian archeological sites are from Middle Period.
One of the greatest changes that sparked a more unified Halaria was when Letsic-speaking peoples from the Azro-Barradiwan branch begin to settle western Halaria.
To present a unified Halaria and end the cycles of instability, in 2450 BCE, one city steps in to diplomatically reforge the city states into a more robust confederation, including getting the mouth city’s trading wealth more equally distributed, at the expense of more military aid from other city states, and more equality, including a more formal system of tribute going both ways. In exchange, the gateway city was made into a neutral middle ground, demilitarized, but all cities were obligated to take revenge on anyone who attacked to gateway city.
One distinction between periods 2 and 3 was that in period 2, Halarian City-States started to colonize other areas of Ekuosia beyond the homeland. These new colonies tended to have colonists from all across Halaria, as well as natives of the areas colonized, and semi-Halarian pastoralists, which meant a unified standard Halarian pantheon and identity began to take hold in those cities, rather than the city-state specific cultures of the original cities. Eventually by the Late Period, all city-states adopt this much more standard Halarian Identity, especially to contrast with the second Lestic identity that gets added on.
Late Period (Period 1, 1800 BCE - 1343 BCE)
Throughout the period, new empires would emerge alongside Halaria, mostly Lestic speaking. These empires had production not done completely through the temple complexes, leading to economic decline in tradition Halarian city-states. Cites kept dropping bits and pieces of Halarian identity, gradually weakening the confederation.
Due to the mixing of peoples from city-states collapsing, many city states adopt bits and pieces of the pan-Halarian synchretism of the downriver colonies.
Halaria starts syncretizing more with the Letsic peoples among them.
During the Late Period, the Trickster gets syncretized with an unspeakable god of nature and chaos in the cities on the western shore, and the cult of the Trickster becomes bolder and is now claimed to be greater than and subsume the gods.
Most scholars put an official date to the Halarian Period ended when Mestani, an Azro-Barradiwan language, was declared the official language of Stalo. Halarian languages begin to decline, though remain spoken as vernacular languages.
Later civilizations would tie themselves to the legacy of Ancient Halaria. In the 11th C BCE, the city of Madrana had a “Halarian renaissance,” so Madranite Neo-Halarian became an important language of Early Iovism.
Hallmarks of Halarian Civilization
While Ancient Halaria saw a massive amount of change over its long history, there are certain characteristics associated with it. Many of these were strongest in the Middle Period, but the culture was never fully standardized and uniform until the late Middle Period.
A common consensus on why land was owned by collectives and not individuals was that the flooding was chaotic, and so any individual plot of land could become unusable in any given year. In the Early Period, this was done via tribes, but in the Middle and Late Periods, various priest-bureaucrats of various gods were in charge of specific tasks and plots of land for the season, and at the start of a new season, there was a city-wide ritual giving various to assign citizens to tasks.
Some people trained to be bureaucrat priests, including all third-gender people, and all elders were treated that way too. All elders lived in the central Temple Complex. Master craftspeople also seem to have become bureaucrat priests fairly frequently too.
People without children would be reassigned every change of seasons, but at the beginning of the new season after the successful birth of a first child, the parents are reveal which gods gave them the secrets of life, and they are initiated to permanently be assigned to that god.
Cities were able to check each other's trade, because all trading expiditions needed approval and staffing from the gateway city, but also cosponsored with a second city, who would provide the guards.
In the gift giving, during the dry season, each city state had a national holiday in which elders from the other city states went there to give tribute. The opening holiday was always the neutral city, which was "lowest", the closing was always the city that proposed the compromise that made the middle period possible as the "highest" and at the gateway's holiday, the order of the rest was determined for that year. The highest always began the tribute of any holiday.
The order was not fixed, but instead, as part of the gateway city's festival, all cities would lay out their gifts, and the bureaucrat-priest of the "highest" city would announce the order of the rest of them based on the gifts given (and internal politics). Then, the date of each other city's festival would be determined going from "low" to "high", ending on the leader.
This festival meant that the major trade from city to city was much more about politics and trust (including based on previous years's gifts) than a strict economic exchange, sometimes with cities able to show off magnanimy in abundant years and receiving more aid this way in lean years.
Halarian Religion was in all cities divided into two sets of gods - one for the rainy season and one for the dry season. Some of these were shared across almost all cities, some were region or city specific.
By the Middle Period, all also had embraced the figure of the Trickster, who does not possess the powers of the gods, but in a sense, weaves them to do his bidding, and subtly manipulates them to bring the right gods in the right season. One cannot sacrifice directly to the Trickster, lest the gods get mad.
Many rituals between the seasons adopted the Trickster as the figure helping with transitions between gods. To start the rainy season, all cities lead a procession under a tarp with a representation of the Trickster to bring to the gateway city, out of the eyes of the angry dry season gods. When the gods of one season are tired, humanity sneaks the trickster out, and does things the trickster taught them, like planting seeds and milling grain and things, before the new gods can come back. It is thought that gods who overstep their seasons become demonic, and you can only trick them to sleep after that with the help of the Trickster to renew the godhood and fight the demonhood.
Rituals done in the dry season tended to be outdoors and open to foreigners, but rituals in the rainy season tended to be closed to foreigners, and indoors (in the main House of the Gods, or the god specific shrine.
All gods had god-specific shrines, frequently ones with various secret rituals that only followers of the god that season could go to, and priests of the gods. All elders were welcome to all secret ceremonies of all gods.
Bureaucrat-priests had two names, one for each season, and a special ritual at the end of the last season to allow the Trickster to hide their wrong season name. Traditional Halarianists sometimes interpreted the non-overlapping lists of priest names during the two seasons to suggest that there were two sets of priests, who became worker the other season, but writing unearthed in 1986 disproved this once popular hypothesis.
Not much is known directly about music in Halaria, but it was clear that one genre of Halarian music was a style of work song, where bureaucrat-priests would know most of the song, and would lead in a call-and-response. The repetoire was probably some songs for specific tasks, but also some songs that were specific to a god, passed along between the priests of said god.
Buildings in Halaria were constructed with passive cooling systems as an integral part of them. The buildings tended to be built in the direction of the prevailing winds, with openings at either side to allow cross breezes. The openings had space that seemed to allow for wooden slats on pulleys, but none of the wood or ropes has survived for modern archeologists to actually look at. Behind the windward openings on a lot of buildings, there was a small room to "keep demons out" that was designed to catch the rainwater before entering the rest of the building. The rooves tended to be steep and tall to carry off rainwater and give space for air to circulate. These little chambers tended to show designs similar to amulets, leading to the hypothesis that they were also there for spiritual purposes like trapping demons. In some areas, more monumental rooves were more dome shaped. The central peak of most buildings was taller than the rest, to allow for a wind-catcher effect, and to allow water stored in cisterns to evaporatively cool the building. Many buildings with collected water specifically had a series of openings and troughs to allow excess water to "spill out" into bodies of water like irrigation canals.
Most monumental buildings were build above the flood line, but there are stones in some places that show signs of water damage. Some scholars argue they were for cisterns, but others argue that some cults specifically had their central building built to be flooded during the rainy season, for some ritual purposes.
The Halarian city-states themselves spoke similar langagues and had similiar customs and were in a structured relations between the city-states, so scholars refer to those as "True Halarians", but they were not the only people who interacted with Ancient Halarian societies. All city-states had groups of semi-nomadic pastoralists who were integrated into their economies, would take shelter in the cities and join them when times were rough or it was the wrong season for their way of life, and would trade with them. These para-Halarian peoples frequently lent things into the city-states they were associated with, and brought it far away, so you see bits of Halarian culture or language in far away places. Older scholars frequently attributed Halarian artifacts or words probably from a Halarian language to later Iovic uses of Neo-Halarian culture, but many of these refer to things that were not preserved into Period 1, or could be radiocarbon dated to earlier than Iovism.